Gobsmacked again. How can Utah have so many spectacular spots that are so different from each other in such a small area?
We came in the eastern side of the park and our first sight was Checkerboard Mesa. Zion National Park is formed out of sandstone that was result of enormous sand dunes from a couple hundred million years ago. The horizontal lines come from the original cross-bedded sand dunes. It’s less clear where the vertical lines came from but they are probably stress fractures of some kind.
The first couple of miles there were sandstone domes and cliff walls everywhere. When you looked closely at the sandstone you could see it was made of thin layers, some less than an inch in width.
You then drive through first a short tunnel and then a real long one (1.1 miles). When you come out of the tunnel, you find yourself in the main canyon of the park. Photos don’t do it justice because the walls of the cliffs are a couple thousand feet tall.
You then drive through a series of switchbacks that I would never want to drive our motor home on. There are tour buses that come this way frequently but even if they can do it that doesn’t mean I’d want to try. On the first switchback, however, you are greeted with Zion Arch which is hundreds of feet high and wide.
If you are looking for a place to make you feel insignificant, this is it. The canyon walls are so tall and yet the valley floor is wide that you feel very small inside of it.
We took a ride up the the Temple of the Sinawava, which was the highest point. There was a paved path there that goes further up the canyon, and I was able to get Susan almost to the end. It was in the 90’s inside of the park but the weather report we’d seen in the morning had said it would be in the 70’s so we had dressed accordingly. It the path finally got too steep and we both got too hot, so we turned around and headed back down.
As I said, photos just can’t do it justice to its incredibly grand scale. Very magnificent.
We’d give Zion an A for handicap accessibility. The shuttle buses were eminently wheelchair accessible and all of the drivers were very nice. The handicap bathrooms were large and it was easy to get in and out. We’ve also never seen a park with so many handicap parking spots. We had no trouble finding one and despite the parking lot being mostly full there were still a number of them available.