April 21 – Zion National Park, Utah

We left Las Vegas with much success or at least we still had money in our pockets. We were gone by 9 AM. It was another monotonous ride through the desert. It went on for miles but at least it was along Interstate 15 and the ride was smooth. When we finally got into Utah all I could say was WOW, there were tall mountains and trees that were so beautiful.

We stopped for fuel and the Visitors Center in St. George and got lost as the Garmin took us to a fuel station that was there no more. We were able to see parts of the city. When we arrived at the Visitors center at the convention center I noticed large equipment and trucks. I bumped into a conference attendee and he indicated that this was a Public Works convention. Brought back memories of all the past conferences I attended and the fun had.

We stopped at the Pipe Springs National Monument in Arizona. We had left Utah and headed slightly south through Arizona to find this hidden treasure. Also we went this way to avoid the tunnel and the 6 switchbacks in Zion National Park. We were headed for the east side of Zion. Here at Pipe Springs the Mormons used it as a retreat – hideaway place for their polygamous wives, since they were being persecuted. It is still a working ranch with animals and crops.

We arrived at Zion RV Park at 4:30 PM, the latest we have arrived at a site. We lost an hour as we entered another time zone. This is a private campground in the canyon on the east side of Zion. We have no telephone service or wifi except at office. This campground looks like a state park with gravel roads and slightly unlevel sites. It is sitting at the base of a mountain and for the first time in a long time there are no live-in residents. One of the things I noticed when we entered Utah was there were trees. We haven’t seen trees since January. Where do you think are campsite is, but under a tree. Great for shade but bad for satellite. We were able to get satellite thru the tree because the leaves have not quite blossomed out.

While were were getting ready for dinner, I heard someone call out “Rich”. I went out and it was Jerry, We met in Twentynine Palms RV Park back in California. He had noticed our sign in the front of RV, so we chatted about our recent travels. Small world.

We have a cat, chicken, horses all in campground. Our neighbor (from Germany) asked if could rent one of our dogs to keep the cat away his camper.

Friday morning we woke to 38 degrees. Not used to this mountain coolness. We headed over to Zion NP, WOW WOW and WOW!!!

We came in from east entrance and it was already crowded with a backup of cars waiting to get in.

We did the Visitors Center and the Museum to see orientation movie and got my stamp and refrigerator magnet. They have a shuttle (only way to get thru the canyon) and we rode it from beginning to end to get an overview of the park.

We had lunch at yes Zion Canyon Brewery. We then walked the Lower Emerald pond trail (1.2 miles and 69 feet up)and later we walked the Weeping Rocks Trail (half mile and 98 feet up). Those were on the easy level.

While in the shuttle, we saw rock climbers climbing a huge cliff, in fact we were told they spent the ngith sleeping on their route up.

We did get a chance to see some long horn sheep.

I am so glad I didn’t take the RV into the park. There is a 1.1 mile tunnel that you had to pay $15 to get a ranger led single lane drive through the tunnel, plus there were six switchbacks that were narrow and sharp curves. The edge of the road was close to the cliff and would have been scary in the RV. Car wasn’t too bad.

Saturday we took the dogs into the Park. They are not allowed on the shuttle or trails but there is a 3.5 mile paved trail called Pa’rus. We walked it and the dogs said WOW!

We then drove thru Springdale (south entrance to Park) and then over to Kolob Terrace. A section of Zion west of the canyon. It had some spectacular views and was an area of ranches, therefore cows wandered along the road. We did stop on the way back at the Brewery for a beer and stew.

Sunday morning we awoke to 35 degrees outside but the sun was shining. We went back to the Park and were ready to hike some more difficult trails. We did the Canyon Lookout (one mile and 63 feet up, but the view was awesome) and the Watchman Trail(3.5 miles and 368 feet up).

Can you believe we stopped at the brewery for an award to reaching the end of each of the trails? There are still more and better trails to adventure on so we will have to come back in the future.

Monday we woke up to 44 degrees, oh its going to be warmer today. We were having some drizzle but no down pour. The weather did break and my plan was to ride my bike through the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. I took off dressed for the cold because it hadn’t gotten up to 50 degrees by 11. I couldn’t wait any longer because today is our last day here. On the way to the Park, it started to snow lightly.

I got into the park (had to show my senior pass because all of last week entry into National Parks was free). Got my bike unloaded and the weather seemed to be getting better. Started the ride and after the first curve the winds picked up so bad they almost blew me off the road. It was scary as there was a 50 drop off at the edge. Continued riding harder to get past these winds.

The view from a bicycle seat is breathtaking. You can see everything around and hear the sounds of the river adjacent to the road. I just can’t explain the great feeling and experience of the ride.

Getting close to the end of the route I noticed that rain clouds were moving in, its amazing what you can see with the mountains as a backdrop. I rode faster and faster to get back to the car before I got drenched. I made it and found sanctuary in the warmth of the car. I noticed now that the temperature was 38 degrees.

Started the drive home when the rain turned into snow – you have to be kidding – no way! It snowed for the rest of the afternoon. Zion looks totally different when it is snowing. Snow is sticking to the grass but not the roads.IMG_1396

Tuesday we woke up to one inch of snow – no hurry to leave, but we did get out by 10 AM to Bryce National Park.

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