Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Long Road to Zion

Leaving the South Rim of the Grand Canyon behind, I headed northwest toward Las Vegas. There I would meet my wife and some friends for the next part of the journey. It wasn't long before I was back in civilization. There is a lot of road work being done all over the area and I was caught in the grip of this road development with many other unfortunate travelers. It would be slow going for several hours.

I can't say that Las Vegas is an ideal stopover after the tranquility of the open desert. It's more like a dunk into ice cold water after baking in the Sun. On one level it is revitalizing and on another just shocking to the system. Thankfully this would be a short layover.
I picked up my wife and the next morning we were off on route 15 to the open spaces of the Colorado Plateau and the next major location of Zion National Park. Along the way it is worth stopping at St. George, for gas and food before the route 9 cutoff as there is not much between there and the small town of Springdale which marks the entrance to the Park.

I'd herd a lot about Zion and how beautiful it is and was looking forward to the experience. The bad news is that we arrived at the gate late in the evening and the road into the park was very dark. All we could see in the darkness as we drove the winding road for the several miles to the Lodge were the trees lit by my headlights. Also, just a word of advise at this point, you need a reservation at the Zion Lodge to drive your car into the park. All others must use the shuttle buses that run during open hours. 

Night hid any chance of seeing the grandeur of anything but a few rodents caught in the headlights as we drove to the lodge. Soon a sign announced that we have arrived. We checked in quickly and were so tired we went directly to our room to get some sleep. The lodge is rustic and the rooms are nice and without frills, but the bed was soft and soon I was fast asleep... Zion will have to wait for morning.

The morning sunlight brought the first view of the valley and it did not disappoint.  The red cliffs formed bands of strata layers revealing  the history of 225 million years of erosion from the Virgin River, earthquakes and volcanic activity. I strained my neck to look to the top as the peaks rose to meet the blue sky.  

Over the next days as I walked the trails and photographed this valley I could not help but be awed by the majestic scale and color of this spiritual place. It is clear why and how Zoin got it’s name one feels the energy of a higher power here it is a vortex of energy, a place of contemplation and self awakening.

It’s at this point that I become lost for words. Yes... you heard me right... I became speechless. I have been sitting here thinking what I could say that would add to the images that follow but the story is in the images so I think I will let the images speak for me. I hope the pictures that follow do justice to the experience of Zion National Park. 
My first view of the Canyon.

Emerald Pools Trail "The Falls"
Emerald Pools Trail the path along the pools.
Emerald Pools Trail water etched rock face
Trees along the edge.
Towers of the Virgin

Looking south over the Virgin River
The wide view looking south

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