Road Trip to Utah — Zion National park

In April, I took a trip to Southern Utah. Originally, I wanted to go to Monument Valley, but, by the time I got back to Southern California, I had visited Zion Canyon, Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Kodachrome Basin, and driven 1,000 miles of backroads — and finally got to Monument Valley, returning home eleven days later.

I not going to write a tour guide, or tell you any travel secrets, or give a lot of technical information on photography, or post-processing. If you are interested in that, use the contact form and ask away. I’ll share what I can remember. 🙂 I will tell you that most images were captured with a Nikon D7000 — yes, not with my D700. I wanted the reach of the crop factor. Also, you will have to enjoy over-saturated, sort of fake HDR post-processing. 🙂 Hey, I just retired, so I don’t have to please clients, or anyone but myself, now!

Today’s post is about Zion National Park. Mid-April and early May is a great time to visit Zion. School isn’t out, yet, so the number of visitors is less than mid-summer. Also, beginning in April, private cars are restricted from Zion. The park service operates a fleet of shuttle buses that pick up hikers and sightseers at the Visitor’s Center, and circulate through six or seven bus stops, inside the park. While each drop-off area is scenic, in itself, there are multiple trails heads at each stop. You can select from easy 2-3 hour loop, or in-and-out trails, to overnight trips.

There are a variety of maps, guided books, and internet resources to help you plan your time. A few days before I started my trip, I made a hotel reservation, in town of Springdale, UT. Driving up from Orange County, I passed through St. George, just before dusk, made the turn off to Zion, and arrived at the hotel after dark. The next morning, I was up at dawn, had breakfast, and caught the local shuttle to the park, and jumped on the park shuttle to the farthest stop. I hiked on the mostly paved River Trail as far as I could go without the need for waders, or swimming. Then I doubled back, along the same trail, to the shuttle stop, got on the next bus (they come and go about every 10 minutes, are free, and you can get on and off as frequently as you like).

I stopped at two more times, hiked a few more trails, and got back to the hotel around 3PM.

Zion is unlike the Grand Canyon — you don’t start at the top and look down into it. You start in the canyon, and look up at the massive rocks towering above you. There is certain majesty about it, and even if you arrive not believing in a Supreme Being, you will leave with a firm belief in something greater than yourself.

After spending the morning and early afternoon roaming the floor and lower reaches of the canyon, I wanted to get a look at it from above and from a distance — but the areas around the rim of the canyon are not in the park and some are on private property. I found a tour company who had a license to take visitors into these upper areas, via four-wheel drive vehicles. More importantly, for me, since I spent most of the day looking up, the views from the high plateaus gave a different, and more encompassing perspective of the area.

Often, petroglyph locations are not well publicized, to prevent them from being defaced. Fortunately, I didn’t appear to be a vandal, so my guide took me to a location, outside the park, that had a couple of examples of rock art.

More views of Zion, from a distance.

Not far from the village of Springdale, on a dusty, bumpy road, on the side of a mesa, is the cemetery and remnants of the town of Grafton. Two brick buildings have been restored — a church and a house.

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by Paul Edward

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Paul Edward Hey Shane — good to hear from you. Funny that you should mention the film. I didn’t know that, but, coincidentally, a few days later, I drove over to Bryce, and through Red Rock, which was one of Butch’s hideouts — and two days later, I drove up Rte. 89 and saw the sign to Beaver — his birthplace. I didn’t cut over, since it is on I-15, and I am likely to go that way, sometime.

Take care, Shane!

Shane Thompson Paul, I don’t know if you knew this, but Grafton is where they filmed Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. In the film they stay in the house, and that is where the bicycle scene is filmed as well. It’s also really interesting to read the headstones where they have the cause of death.

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