Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Into Zion NP. On Friday the 13th!

It was time to make tracks out of St George and start the discovery process of all of the great NP's and other awesome places that Utah has to offer.
Later then expected start, but that did not stop me from meandering and making unexpected detours :).
I saw a great mountain view as I was nearing the park, and just HAD TO get a pic. Backtracked, and decided that if I went out Kolob Reservoir road, I could get an even better shot. Guess that I was seeing the Northwest side of the Zion canyon peaks. It was a nice drive, even though I u-turned at about 5 miles, since I had climbed 1200' in the final mile, with more to come...
I explored some trailheads and did a cache or two, before getting back on hwy 9 into the park. Nice detour, and would be a great daytrip or more. The "subway" trail goes into the canyon within the park. Alas, you could not hike any of these trails without permit, which must be obtained within the park.
Further in, I stopped and scoped out what would become "basecamp" for my stay here, Mosquito Cove. This is a BLM dispersed camp along the virgin river. It is nothing but flood plain and a wash, and so some of the sites are 4x4 only. Nice enough spot though, and after the weekend I have been camped within 20' or so of the river :)
The park has a shuttle system... That really works...Made up of two routes, you can park in the town of Springdale along 8 stops, and ride the shuttle to the park entrance and visitor center. The inside route takes you into the far reaches of the canyon. Only vehicles permitted for access to the lodge are allowed into the canyon during spring and summer. The buses are only 7 minutes apart, so it is no big deal to step off at a stop for a picture or quick hike. I wish Yosemite's system was as efficient as this.
Since I got into the park late in the day, I decided on the visitors center, a ride through canyon and a walk out Riverside walk would do it. Riverside walk takes you out to the "narrows gate". The narrows is the stretch of the canyon that you see depicted in anything regarding Zion. You have to wade and hike up canyon through some of the highest walled portions of the canyon, with all of the etched sandstone and tight walls. This was going to be a must do for me, so I went out to see how people were outfitted and get some feedback on the trek.
Just taking a shuttle ride through the canyon, and some of the easy trails like Riverside walk are worth the price of admission. You could shuttle through a few times on the same day and still be mesmerized by the different looks the peaks take on in the various lighting.
I know that I am going to enjoy this visit :)

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