November 17, 2018
We met up with Sheila and her girls (Kenzie and Bunnah) in Cedar City, Utah. We camped at The Home Depot for a couple of nights and then headed into Zion.
Even though I had read that there were some first come – first served campsites in the park, there were not any. They all were reserved 6 months in advance. We had to find a commercial campground outside the park. We chose the one right at the park entrance. We paid $72 CAD ($55 USD) for ONE night. Never in our lives have we paid so much for a campsite. I guess you pay for location, but that’s all we got. We were expected to share a picnic table with our neighbour and there was nowhere to park the truck. However, we were close to the action, and by action I mean ZION!
As soon as we unhitched, we headed into the park. We had an America the Beautiful pass from last year and it covered the admission for the 3 of us. We decided to drive Utah Highway 9 from the south to the east entrance. Oh the glorious views! This route includes the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel, which was built in the 1920s, when vehicles were much smaller. This tunnel is 1.1 miles long and fairly narrow. Vehicles 11’4″ tall or taller or 7’10” wide or wider require traffic control and drivers must pay an additional $15 fee per vehicle. There are many switchbacks leading to the tunnel. It’s a wild ride! For this reason, we did not continue with the trailer to go on to Bryce Canyon. We will go to Bryce on a different road another time.
Here are some sights along Utah Highway 9 inside Zion. I have not adjusted any colors. This is wonderful, colorful Zion! (Click to enlarge)
Once we got to the east entrance, we stopped for a picnic lunch. There are no picnic areas in Zion, so we just used the parking area at the entrance. Afterwards, we headed back. The views were different in this direction.
We returned to camp to drop off the girls, and then we took the shuttle through Zion Canyon. This scenic drive is no longer open to vehicles. Park guests must use the shuttle. It has 9 stops. We took the shuttle from the Visitor Center all the way to the last stop at the Temple of Sinawava. We got out for a walk along the North Fork of the Virgin River to the Narrows. Most of the walk was quite lush, sometimes swampy, and incredibly spectacular. There are hanging gardens throughout, but even in this damp environment, there are cacti. Zion is in the desert after all.
As we took the shuttle back to the Visitor Center, night was falling. The Airstream looked beautiful against the backdrop of Zion and a rising moon.
Goodnight Zion. You are spectacular!