Friday, June 11, 2021
This morning we were up and moving by 5:00 AM to head to Zion National Park. We had heard how crowded the park has been and we wanted to avoid the crowds as much as possible. The sun rose over the mountains as we were heading to the park.
In Zion, you can not drive through the park like we were able to do in Bryce Canyon National Park. You have to take the shuttle busses (from spring to fall). That’s where the line began. We were in line at the Visitor’s Center at 6:15 AM and even at that early hour we didn’t get on a shuttle until 7:38 AM!
The line was even longer by the time we got on our shuttle. Masks were to be worn in line and on the shuttle. The national parks were still being careful with the Covid protocols. We were happy with that even though we are fully vaccinated. Zion’s Visitor Center was open but you needed to wear masks and stay 6 feet apart.
Four shuttle stops were closed and that made the other stops busier and those trails did get busy with hikers! Two trails were closed due to a major rockfall! Stop 1 for the Shuttle was the Visitor Center where you had to park and wait for a shuttle.
Stop 5 was our first available shuttle stop. This stop was for Zion Lodge and the Lower, Middle and Upper Emerald Pools Trails. We decided to do these hikes which were considered easy to moderate. There weren’t too many people on the trail as we headed for the Lower Emerald Pools. On our way we passed a mule deer eating some leaves and totally ignoring us!
We were disappointed with the Emerald Pools. There wasn’t much water coming down and the pool wasn’t filled with much water. We decided it was from the high temperatures that the area has been experiencing and no rain.
We were on our way to the Upper Emerald Pools when we passed some hikers coming down and they told us to not waste our energy climbing the rest of the trail. They told us there was even less water in the pool and not much to see. We took their advice and hiked back down. It wasn’t a loop trail. By this time, the sun was really warming up the temperature! Again, water is a necessity and they have signs posted all over the park warning hikers about carrying water and making sure you have plenty of water!
We walked into the Zion Lodge and looked around and then walked the Grotto Trail to the next shuttle stop. It was only half a mile between the stops!
We got on the shuttle at The Grotto and road up to the last shuttle stop before it loops around. Here we did the Riverside Walk trail. There were a lot of people along this trail. Many families because it is an easy walk and round trip a little over 2 miles. This trail follows along the Virgin River.
When we got back to the shuttle stop we rode it back to the Visitor Center so we could get our packed lunches in the cooler in the car and get more water! We found a picnic table in the shade to eat our lunch. As we were eating we watched car after car driving by looking for a parking spot. This was the reason we arrived early and we were so glad we did!
After lunch we walked over 2 1/2 miles on the Pa’rus Trail. The temperature was 84 degrees and full sun. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and this trail didn’t have shade!
When we finally left the park, vehicles were still trying to find a parking space. This was late afternoon. Our spot was gone as soon as we pulled out.
We stopped at the pull off to look at the Checkerboard Mesa, named because it resembles a checkerboard. There was horizontal cross-bedding from the ancient sand dunes and then there was vertical cracking from the expansion and then contraction of the sandstone during winter. We kept our eyes open for the Desert Bighorn but we didn’t spot any!
We were ready to get back to the campground and relax after two very long days and little sleep! Even though we were exhausted, we loved every minute of our adventures so far!