Zion National Park 2022
Zion National Park is one of the most visited parks in the United States. It’s a picturesque park park with landscapes and panoramic views that are hard to beat. So beautiful, I can’t keep count with how many times of visited the park. This was my last stop of my road trip. The park is full of world class hikes like Angel’s Landing, the Narrows, Emerald Pools, etc. But, with my health condition I decided to hike along the Virgin River to avoid the strenuous and elevated hikes the park is noted for.
I arrived at the east entrance at 9:30 a.m. and it didn’t seem to be very busy. As I made my way past the Mount Carmel Tunnel and the Canyon Junction Bridge, I noticed cars parked along the road and others reversing course from the Visitor Center parking lot. The summer season was in full effect. I decided to exit the park and park in Springdale. I found parking just a 10 minute walk from he park entrance. I made to the visitor center where a 30 minute queue to board the park shuttle was waiting for me. The shuttles were standing room only.
I exited the shuttle at the Grotto, where multiple trails begin like the famed Angels Landing. I made my way down to the Virgin River to take some photos. I hiked along the river with Angels Landing in the background. I got closer and closer and I decided to make my way into the river.
The water was cold but it felt refreshing after hiking in the sun. I decided to retrace my steps and hike in the same direction I came from. I stopped at the picturesque bridge that leads to the Emerald Pools trail.
I decided to enter the water again, this time I dipped my full body into the water. I wasn’t the only one in the river at this point. It’s a popular area for hikers coming back from the multiple trails to take a dip in the river to cool themselves off. Most of them where at the opposite side of the bridge so I had a peaceful dip in this pristine location. I got out of the water and waited until I was dry, well, dry enough to be presentable. I made my way to the Zion Lodge and to the cafe. The queue was out the door so I decided to have a snack under the enormous tree in front of the lodge. I eventually had lunch at a restaurant right outside the park.
I got back on the shuttle and made one last stop before exiting. I made the short walk to the Court of the Patriarchs viewpoint to get some photos of the rock formations that make up the three patriarchs. I, also, wanted to take the short walk down to the river. It was like discovering paradise, a spot not widely known by others as everyone visits the viewpoint and then moves on to the next stop. It was a pristine section of the park where the sound of the flowing river was the only thing I heard. I just sat on a rock along side the river and soaked up the view and the fact that I had this piece of paradise all to myself was another plus. I eventually woke myself from this dream state and exited the park.
My second day at the park started early. I boarded the park shuttle by 8:30 a.m., and the wait was only five minutes this time. I took the shuttle all the way to the last stop at the Temple of Sinawava. This is, also, the trailhead for the famed Narrows. For me, it was the start of my hike along the Virgin River for the day.
I made my way down river and I was the only person walking along the river. I did eventually see bicyclist using the road that paralleled the river. I made my way toward Big Bend Viewpoint before getting back on the shuttle again. Some of the best canyon views are between the Big Bend Viewpoint and the Weeping Rock stops which I completed on my last visit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time and Weeping Rock was closed, due to rock slides, so I couldn’t do it.
I had to make my way back to the Zion Lodge and to the horse coral for my horseback riding tour. I checked in and we were on our way. We crossed the river and headed down stream. The start of the ride was, thankfully, under some shady trees. Then, the route opened up and I could see the canyon rim to my left. We continued on and the view even got better.
We arrived at another clearing and we found ourselves at the base of the Patriarchs, the rock formations I viewed the previous day. After taking in the this amazing panoramic, we made our way back. We crossed the river again as we ended the tour back at the coral.
I was hungry and it was now lunch time and I walked by the cafe at the lodge again. The queue was even longer than the previous day.
So, I made my way back out of the park. But, before I made my exit, I made a stop at the Court of the Patriarchs again. I wanted to sit in solitude on the bank of the river again. This time, I had the fresh perspective of being so close to the Patriarchs as I did earlier on the horseback ride. This park is so beautiful, I seem to find something new and amazing after every visit. I ended the day earlier than I usually would but with all that I’ve accomplished I wanted to call it a day before my long drive home the next morning.
Even with the adversity I had to go through before I even embarked on this journey, I had an another amazing experience on this road trip. I put together my itinerary three days prior to my departure and I was proud of what I achieved. The U.S. has announced that they will no longer require Covid testing to enter the country and I now the rest of the world will follow. I’m now resting my body as dozens of possibilities for my next expedition run through my mind. The world awaits as I come up with my next travel itinerary.
Safe travels and see you soon!