Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Land of Zion

The other thing I wanted to do last weekend while visiting my sisters, was to go to Zion National Park. People come from other countries to see this park, and my sisters live 20 minutes from the east gate. And yet I've never been. I have a goal to see all the National Parks, and figured I should probably start with the ones within my own state. I had planned to buy a year pass because you go twice and it's paid for. But on the spot decided to pay a little more and buy the all parks pass. If I go to three more parks in the year it will pay for itself. So that is the commitment I am now making. I will make that pass worth it this year!

I'm really glad I went that weekend because it was the last weekend of the year that you can drive through the full park, starting in April you have to take a shuttle bus around. It was a beautiful day to be there, although a little busy for my taste. As far as photo taking goes, I was there at exactly the wrong time, right in the middle of the day. Early morning, or early dusk is when you are going to get interesting lighting, but even though I didn't get any amazing shots, it was still a nice way to spend a day. And it's nice to have one park marked off my list. There are so many things that I don't like about Utah, but the beautiful spots I have access to definitely help make up for those negatives.

After driving through the park I decided to check out a couple of the easy hikes to see if they would be appropriate for future visits with the kids. My first stop was the Lower Emerald Pools. I have to comment that I was a little surprised by the lack of friendliness on the trail. It's not that anyone was rude, it's just that the vast majority of people won't even look you in the eye. I've had similar experiences hiking around where I live, and have noticed that unless someone is over 60, it's a pretty low chance that someone will say hi, even if I say it first. It made my experience at Best Friends the next day stand out even more because every single person I came in contact with there was friendly to me.

Back to the hike. This is the waterfall creating the lower pool.

From behind the falls

Not exactly looking emerald, but I did get a rainbow which seemed fitting

I loved this little patch of trees along the side of the cliffs lit up by the sun. I smiled when a family behind me was trying to explain to one of the kids that no, someone didn't paint trees on the cliffs, those are actual trees.

I really wished I had a stronger lens on this visit. And also a panoramic lens.

I thought this looked like some creature ready to take a bite out of something

Flowers in the desert have an extra beauty

This little guy was taking advantage of the sun and was willing to let a few of us snap his photo

I looped around to another trail and then walked back to the starting point along the river. Which is a little more green than the water at the pools.

After a couple hours on the trails I had lunch at the Zion Lodge. It was a perfect spot to sit and relax and view the area I had just hiked.

After lunch I drove the rest of the scenic loop and stopped at Weeping Rock for a short hike. The wall was really cool with lots of moss and plants, but the sun was shinning straight on it, so I couldn't get any good shots. From underneath the ledge

On the way out of the park I stopped to take a picture of the area where you drive through a long tunnel. Which honestly is a bit freaky. My friend Wade had mentioned that it has openings that would be great places to take photos, except you can't stop in the tunnel. Going into the park through the tunnel, there was a group of harleys and all the women riding on the backs were taking photos with their phones as they slowed down at each opening. I stopped where I could see the openings to the tunnel and a raven flew down right over me as I got out of my car and circled around me. My camera was not on a setting right for the bright sun in that spot, but I didn't have time to adjust anything.

The significance of the raven the next day at Best Friends was even more special having seen this one the day before.

This is the section of the mountain that has a mile long tunnel through it. Pretty amazing to think about when you see if from this side.

Have to mention here that I love that the road through the park is a reddish brown with makes it blend in more with it's surroundings than a typical black road. I thought that was cool.

A closer up shot of one of the openings along the side of the tunnel.

I really love the beauty that surrounds me here and that I had the opportunity to experience another little section of it. I will definitely be returning to Zions.


the Lady said...

Beautiful pictures, Kari. You are so lucky to live so close to Zions. I think Steph and I went there once before we moved from Utah, but didn't have the chance to hike it.
I love your goal to visit all of the state parks. PA has the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. Next time you are out our way, you'll have to visit that one, too.

Marty Wombacher said...

That looks like an amazing day and a wonderful place! You took some great photos there!

Britta said...

You know how much I love that place. I wish we had visited more often because I really miss it. Enjoy having that near by (relatively speaking), and get to Arches too-and Dead Horse Point...Tom and I did all those together and they are each amazing in different ways.

Tom said...

Zion's is one of my all time favorite places on this earth. It is special to me in ways I'd never be able to express on a blog comment- but reading your observations of your first visit there takes me back. I hope you get to many more parks this year.

Kari said...

Tom and Britta, it would be a lot of fun to be able to go sometime as a whole family. I hope it is an area all of our kids grow to love and have memories of.