Saturday, December 12, 2015

Zion National Park - The Adventure Begins

The National Parks of southern Utah have been a bucket list item for years.  Many times I've tried to arrange a visit, only to have something get in the way.  But this year I decided come hell or high water, I was going!  When recuperation from a June foot surgery took me out of action, I filled the downtime by planning a trip.  I set a date, and made the necessary arrangements and reservations.  Four months later, my hubby and I packed our car, and hit the road.

We were greeted with a lovely rainbow

Zion National Park is a long journey from Portland, Oregon, requiring two full days driving to reach.  We spent the first night with Roger's sister in Sacramento, CA.  Rising early the second day, we braved a harrowing journey over Donner Pass in a torrential rainstorm, and then an endless drive across the desolate state of Nevada, via Hwy 50 (dubbed the "loneliest road in America").  I was never so happy to cross the Utah state line.  Even though rain showers followed us the entire day, on our final stretch to Zion, the sun came out and we were treated to a vivid rainbow.  Another gorgeous double rainbow led us to the park entrance.  A fine end to a long journey.

I finally made it!

After taking a few obligatory park sign photos, we had just enough time to erect our tent and cook a quick dinner before darkness, and more rain, descended.  Although it rained all night long, happily we awoke to dry skies by morning.

Clearing skies

While in Zion National Park, I'd hoped to hike the Narrows.  This slot canyon of the Virgin River's North fork is a popular trek.  But this trail doesn't follow a earthen path - in this case your "trail" is the river itself.  Hikers wade up the knee- to chest-deep water as far as they desire, before turning around and sloshing back.

Fabulous view from Watchman Campground

But narrow canyons of the southwest are not the places to be during rainy days.  Runoff concentrates in these confined spaces, creating fast currents and flash floods.  Everything I'd read recommended avoiding the Narrows after rain events.

No hiking the Narrows today

After hearing rain pound our tent all night, I knew hiking the Narrows was not gonna happen today.

Riverwalk hike into the Narrows Canyon

But Roger and I were in a beautiful National Park, and there were lots of things to see.  A short walk from our campground brought us to the visitor center, where we caught a shuttle bus into the park.  To help alleviate traffic congestion, all visitors to Zion National Park must use their shuttle bus system.  Buses were frequent, convenient, and I enjoyed not having to jockey for parking spaces everywhere we went.

The Virgin River

Even though a Narrows hike was out for today, my hubby and I decided to at least go check out the canyon.  The last stop on the Zion shuttle, it was a 40 minute ride.

Beginning of the river trail

A paved one mile trail, called "The Riverwalk" takes park visitors to the Narrows' very beginning.  After departing our bus, Roger and I set out through the canyon on this delightful path.

Lots of left behind shoes!

Oh it was fantastic!  Tall walls of red rock towered above our heads.  Green trees lined the river banks.  And the lovely Virgin River burbled in its rock-lined channel below.

Fantastic view up the Narrows
After meandering through this wonderful canyon (me taking copious photographs, Roger marching ahead and then waiting for me) we came to the trail's end.  Several dozen pairs of shoes lined a low wall, left behind I assumed, by some of the river waders.  Then I spied a set of steps leading visitors down to the river's edge.  This must be it!

My hubby enjoying the view

Oh was it impressive!  The canyon walls rose nearly vertical from the river banks.  Looking downriver, I could see the canyon opening already necking down into a narrow passage.  Although the river was flowing strong, it didn't look that threatening.  But I wasn't about to risk it.

Foolish people decided to hike anyway

My hubby and I hung out here for a good hour, taking in the scenery.  Not only the natural landscape, people-watching was also quite interesting.  Some folks timidly inched their way to the water's edge, while others plunged right in.  One group actually began wading upriver, despite the warnings.

Lots of great river viewpoints

The longer we stayed at the Narrows beginning, the more crowded the riverbank became.  Finally Roger and I got tired of the masses, and decided to find a less congested attraction.

Fall colors just starting

The walk back was just as wonderful.  I admired the tall canyon walls, comprised of colorful red sandstone.  The lovely green trees lining the river were just beginning to change into fall colors.

The Riverwalk was a beautiful trail

Yeah, I took just as many photos on the return trip.

Checking out more of the river

Back at the bus stop, I wasn't quite ready to move on, so I followed a user trail to the river's edge.

Bright green trees

The scenery here was especially nice, and I spent another half hour trying to capture it all (much to my poor hubby's chagrin!)

Tall red cliffs

But more attractions beckoned, and Roger was finally able to tear me away from this gorgeous place.

Bus Stop at Weeping Rock

Our next stop was to explore a short trail to a natural phenomenon called "Weeping Rock."  A junction between layers of porous sandstone and denser shale cause water to pour out of the rocks.  Water trickling through the sandstone can't penetrate the shale layer and moves laterally to the cliff face.

Watching the rainstorm come in

As Roger and I climbed the short trail to Weeping Rock, I noticed the clouds had thickened, and a white mist hovered in the sky.

Hanging out under Weeping Rock

We barely made it under Weeping Rock's tall overhang before the rain hit.  A good place to hang out and wait for the storm to pass, I busied myself taking more photographs.

Amazing canyon views

The scenery wasn't too shabby either!  Weeping Rock's viewing platform provided some nice views of the adjacent canyons.

Good place to escape the rain

When the rain finally began to let up, Roger and I returned to the bus stop.  The river below the road looked so inviting, I couldn't resist climbing down and checking things out.

Tall canyons eroded by the Virgin River

It was amazing to stand beside the rushing Virgin River and gaze up at the tall canyon walls, thousands of feet above.  It was even more stunning to think this river was responsible for carving this deep canyon through the park.

Can't get enough of this scenery!

So far so good, we'd only endured a brief rainshower all morning.  But the day was still young, and there was more of this magnificent park to see.  Next on our agenda was a hike to the Emerald Pools.  Would the weather continue to behave?  Well, you'll have to wait for my next blog post to find out!

Sharing with:  Through My Lens and Our World Tuesday.


  1. Wonderful post, Linda. You really captured the beauty of Zion, rather magnificently.
    I haven't been there in many years, it's wonderful seeing it again... through your lens.

  2. Absolutely breathtaking views (even in rain) from the Zion National Park. During my recent stay in the USA I also though about visiting it, but we just didn't have the time. It's a beautiful park, with many narrow hiking paths and I love the views of the river that present themselves while you hike!

    Mersad Donko Photography

  3. If the introductory taster is anything to go by then I'm really looking forward to the rest of your tour. Astonishing scenery.

  4. I'm have been patiently waiting for your posts of this trip. It is exactly as I remember it to be, spectacular.

  5. Hello Linda,
    What a great pictures.
    Amazing to see that area of that National park with fantastic rocks.
    That must be great to be in real.

    Many greetings,

  6. Hello, Linda! wonderful post on your trip to Zion! It is a gorgeous park, I heard the trail up river could be dangerous. The canyon walls are so pretty, lovely collection of photos. I do hope the weather improved during your stay! Happy Sunday, enjoy your new week!

  7. Beautiful series- brings back memories- was there many many years ago

  8. The green foliage contrasts beautifully with the red rock. How lucky you found a rocky overhang to wait out the shower.

  9. Looks awesome! Look forward to more reports, and so glad you got in a big trip. I mve never seen a flash flood warning sign before, but i understand how they happen. Scary.

  10. Such amazing views you had. This is a place that I have never been, but looks gorgeous. Glad you did not risk doing the narrows though as I imagine with the rain, it could be a very risky hike. Your photos are wonderful, and love the beautiful colors of the rocks. I am about to have one more surgery, and then am hoping by spring that I will be able to do some hiking again. Have a wonderful Christmas season Linda, and will look forward to more of your adventures

  11. What a wonderful place. Why do folk leave their shoes?

  12. On our last visit to Zion we had bright sunshine most days making it difficult to take decent were fortunate to have overcast skies so you didn't have to deal with harsh sunlight and dense shade competing on the canyon walls!

    Poor Roger! Always waiting for the photographer to catch up! ;-)

  13. I'm always impressed with the bright oranges and browns seen in the rock formations out west. They dominate the colors out there. They're much more impressive than the gray colors seen in the rocks here in New England. Very impressive photos, Linda.

  14. Absolutely gorgeous, Linda, and I can never resist a rainbow! Thanks so much for always sharing your lovely photos, your posts bring me much joy and serenity. :)

  15. And what an adventure it was!

  16. Oh, you lucky girl! Southern Utah is one of my most favorite places in the whole world--though I'm partial to Arches & Bryce Canyon. Most of my bucket list places are in the Four Corners region: Delicate Arch; the horseshoe bend of the Colorado River, just downstream from Page, AZ; and Antelope Canyon, also outside Page. Curt and I got to visit all three in one trip November 2006. So glad you got to see Zion and hike the river!

  17. Thanks for taking me back to this incredible place. I only had a day there a few years ago and was in awe of the sheer, soaring walls of the canyon. My son Matthew hiked a ridge line there in August, when he took a US Parks camping trip. I so wanted to climb where he climbed, but know it was too high and narrow for me. Now I'm waiting to see if you take me there!

  18. Linda, your photos are amazing of the red rock. So lovely. My sis was in Vegas and just outside there is some lovely rock as well. One of these days we'll venture out again. We should be thankful for husbands who tolerate our photography trips! Glad you had a good time and looking forward to your next post! Have a good week, my friend!

  19. I love the southwestern parks!

  20. Zion is one of my favorite places on earth (but the rest of southern Utah is pretty special too!). On our last visit (May 11, 2010) we were there during a freak blizzard, and we spent hours in the park, exploring and photographing the snow and blue skies and rivulets of water running down the canyon walls. It was an experience I'll never forget, as I'm sure you'll never forget your time there. I loved reading your post and reliving my past trips through your photographs. Zion is truly a special place.

  21. Montanhas fantásticas que devia ter dado uma bela caminhada.
    Um abraço e boa semana.

  22. Spectacular photos. That's one National Park in the USA I have seen featured over here, but not often. Looks amazing.

  23. Gorgeous nature photography of a beautiful place ~ Glad you made it there to share the beauty with us!

    Wishing you the magic and love of the season,
    artmusedog and carol

  24. Breathtaking... been there in person too! I see a dusting of snow... cool capture!

    Keep safe..

  25. What a spectacular place! That was a long way to drive only to find that you had to tweak your plans because of flood danger, but you still captured the beauty of the place wonderfully well.

  26. What an amazing, gorgeous place - I must get there one of these years.

  27. That is an amazing park, I have never been there but now I feel like I have been! Your photos are wonderful! :)

  28. Beautiful photos, Linda! LOve the colors in the canyon. I have Bryce and Zion NP on my list of places i hope to visit in 2016!

  29. How inspiring! I love that place and will have to visit it myself one of these years. :-)

  30. One of my favorite places to hike - your photos capture its incredible beauty. I had to smile when you wrote about Highway 50 - when I turned 60, Bob and I rode our bikes from Eagle, CO, to San Francisco and used Highway 50. I thought I was going to be killed by motor homes!

  31. Those majestic rocks rising from the valley, weeping rock, double rainbows. It's a photographer's paradise.

  32. A truly gorgeous place...even with all the rain! So glad you finally made it! We went to Arches last year but only to drive through. We can't hike anymore. So you live in Portland...we may actually be moving to Bend, OR next year!!! I've never been to Oregon either, though my hubby's sister lives in Brookings.

  33. Gorgeous photos!! Love how it starts with a rainbow!

  34. Oh, I love Zion. Never had the urge to hike the Narrows though. Too many people.

  35. Wow! Nice hiking "So far so good." I feel the same things. I enjoyed all of your photos very much. Especially I like "Tall canyons eroded by the Virgin River" photo. Thanks for sharing.

  36. I did some of these hikes many years ago. A return to the park is long overdue. I was about to go back the last week of the year but ended up choosing southern Arizona because of weather reasons. Your photos increase my urge to return.

  37. Não me canso de ver estas belas fotografias.
    Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.

  38. Beautiful! For as much as I like hiking on sunny days, the cloudy and rainy ones are the best for photos. I hope you got into the Narrows later in your trip!

  39. You always have to take photos coming and going, it looks different each way.

    great images.

  40. It's a stunning place. I love the views of the river and the red cliffs are so beautiful.

  41. So nice to see Zion on an overcast day, everyone else's shots are always so bright and sunny. Good to hear that the shuttle system was a pleasant experience, I've wondered about that.

  42. Ahh, on this trip you are in my 'back yard'. We have a winter home about 25 minutes from Zion, and it is truly a breathtaking place to visit and photograph, which I do regularly. I've enjoyed seeing it through your eyes!


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