Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Grand Gallivant: Zion National Park, Utah (a New Experience)

I visited Zion National Park in April of 2011, hiking the Angels Landing Trail and generally having a fantastic time. Visiting in August, we were braced for an experience that resembled Disneyland more than a national park, and we were right.

Me in 2011
Me now

To begin with, we only had half a day to spend in Zion— we had to get back to Vancouver so Zach and I could have at least one day to pack before we headed home. We drove in on the east side, taking some time to hike a trail near the entrance that offered us a glimpse into the canyon from above, before driving through the mile-long tunnel into the proper park. (We also saw some bighorn sheep grazing among the rocks, which was pretty cool.)

We were a bit crunched for time to begin with, and this wasn’t helped by the fact that there were literally no parking spots left in the the park. So we drove to the nearest town and took a free shuttle into Zion, then transferred to the shuttle that runs through the park itself, waiting in life for twenty minutes and cramming in between sweaty people, glancing at the rock formations through the skylights in the bus.

We hiked only one trail, Emerald Pools, in the main section of the park, which gave us some nice views of the canyon as we switchbacked past a series of pools. The trail was crowded with people, a constant start-and-stop of letting people pass on the narrow route. At the final pool at the top, people were splashing and wading in the fragile desert oasis, ignoring the “Do Not Swim” signs and making lots of noise. We tried to see past this to the beauty, but soon turned around and headed back.

I was disappointed that we only got a brief, tourist-packed look at Zion, but this is what you have to expect when traveling during the summer. If you ever plan to make the trip in summer, arrive early, leave plenty of time for getting around, and be at peace with the crowds.

We, at any rate, piled back into the car, bought some Fritos, and started back toward Vancouver. Our Utah vacation was drawing to a close, and it was time to head home.


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