Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wrapping Up Zion

As the holiday weekend crowd started to thin out, we headed back into Zion National to sample some more of this wonderful place. The first mission was to drive ourselves through the park on Utah Rt 9 which travels the high, higher, highest parts of the canyon wall and then ducks though a light-less tunnel of 1.25 miles. There are some "windows" in the tunnel but even with those, with the absence of any electrical lighting, it is very dark in there- headlights and all. The switchback route to it climbs very quickly and if you are a fan of guard rails, well, there are only a few and if you get careless they are not going to help all that much. Not my favorite road safety wise, but again the scenery was great. The tunnel itself permits traffic first on one direction, then shuts down while the other direction funnels through. We had the good fortune to stop before going through in a spot where we could watch a couple of kamikaze climbers defy gravity and shuffle up a rock cliff that looked unclimbable to the likes of me. I want you to know these pics were taken with my telephoto lens...and those guys still look way up there and tiny.

When you finally come out of the tunnel that tops the canyon, it is as though you have entered a completely different world. The hard sandstone of the canyon gives way to curvacious and soft sandstone that in many places seems like it would be moon-like landscape. The vegetation changes at this point as well. It is like two national parks for the price of one. And now that we claim "seniorhood" we get in all national parks for 10 bucks each- one pass covers ALL national parks. There are some captions on the slide show so that you will know where the shot was taken, but I think you'll figure it out on your own.

Then after out trip through the park on rt 9 we followed signs to Coral Pink Sands State Park only a short ride beyond Zion. It wasn't a large park but the sights were impressive and while I'm not sure I would have named it "pink" park, it is a shade of reddish rose and I guess that's close enough. Those pictures will be evident as well.

And then finally we used our last day to go back into the deep canyon to shoot a few images and mountains we had not had a chance to get. At Dripping Springs we happened upon a young buck mule deer grazing just below the spring on the side of the cliffs. We stopped and had our snack/lunch and watched as the deer munched on tender leaves. Nice.

Tomorrow it is off to Bryce Canyon for us- a week in that spot. Looking forward to what should be a very different experience there.

Oh heck, one more shot:


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