Zion National Park: A Short Adventure
Zion; promised land. On a warm June morning we once again packed up Laura’s life into a truck and drove from Tucson up through the desert into Las Vegas, city of sin. Coming in through Henderson we saw the bacchanalia of the Vegas strip in the low horizon, opening up into an urban sprawl cradled on each side by barren Martian cliffs. This would be Laura’s home and our future home (as of next year, when I move on to my dissertation); as we made our way into town I remembered my sister laughing when I told her about my future life in Las Vegas. ‘You living in Vegas?’ She thought that was very funny.
Laura and I are determined to make the best of it, and in fact have already found Vegas to be much more than just the strip. One of its positive qualities is its nearness to interesting national and state parks. After a week of looking for housing and staying with one of Laura’s very generous friends (I have yet to visit a city in this hemisphere where this woman doesn’t have friends), we headed out towards Colorado, where I was to participate with friends in Ride the Rockies (future post). Our first stop was Zion National Park.
The drive from Vegas to Zion was an incredible 2 or 3 hours of desert landscape, made easy by a Harry Potter audio book. Off we were on another road trip, this time having chosen a much lighter soundtrack.
When you start getting near Zion you start seeing that incredible landscape. Unfortunately, our enjoyment of the scenery was tempered, since as we entered the park we saw that all of the camping spots were full (June seems to be an especially busy period at this park). On we drove towards the park hoping to see an inn of some sort where we could bunk for the night. Everything, however, seemed to be full. Finally, as we pulled nearer to the imposing cliffs at Zion, we saw a sign for a lodge with space, the Majestic View Lodge. It looked really nice and we knew it was going to be expensive, but what the heck. It was expensive, but we were just happy to have nice accommodations for the night, and actually get to enjoy the park.
Off we went on a free shuttle that took us from hotel to visitor center. On the way we passed small motels that had vacancies, and we smacked our hands to our heads, but at this point there wasn’t much we could do.
None of this was going to stop us from having a good time. Once in the park, fully protected against the sun and mosquitos, we decided as usual to go for gold: we went to hike “the Narrows”, a river path cutting through high canyon walls. This is not a hike for those who want to stay dry, and even though it was summer, it can get chilly when you are wet and in shade.
You will have to hike through water, often up to your news and occasionally up to your navel. At first there were lots of families and groups of people, but the more we hiked on the more alone we were, and the more incredible the views became. The walls of the canyon have incredible colors, ranging from earthy reds to the most incredible pastel blues. Laura had some new camera equipment on tow; she wasn’t going to let the water deter her, and she got some incredible pictures of this sublime place (I got some sublime pics of her).
We must have hiked for a good three hours or so, perhaps more. On we trudged through the water until we realized that we had to turn back or we would risk having to hike back in the darkness, which seemed like a terrifying prospect. We got back with plenty of light and walked around the park just a little more, until we were so hungry we made our way back up towards the lodge. We made it back to the lodge when the sun was no longer in the sky, a sky which was taking on hues of violet.
The Majestic View Lodge does have some nice views, so we contemplated the horizon before heading up to our room. The next day we had to continue on to Colorado, so we would not have more time on this occasion to explore this incredible place. Nonetheless, our one-day excursion into Zion was well worth it, as these pictures surely can attest. Laura and I will definitely be coming back to Zion, promised land, when we feel the urge to get out of Sin City.