Zion, Utah’s first National Park
The Paiute Indians call Zion, Mukuntuweap, meaning canyon or “straight up land”. This is an excellent description. When entering the park, sheer red Navajo sandstone walls surround me. I almost have a feeling of floating as the walls seemingly rise as the winding roads descend. This vertigo effect is a sensation that I find impossible to capture with photos and videos.
Zion is a busy park during the summer travel season requiring shuttles to transport to 1 of 8 dropoff points. Even arriving early morning, shuttle wait times are 45 minutes to an hour. I visit on 2 separate occasions taking in the Emerald Pools, Kayenta, Weeping Rock, and Angels Landing trails. I could easily spend 2 more days here.
When heading to Bryce I am pleasantly surprised to travel through The Dixie National Forest and the Red Canyon. Red Canyon features spectacular red sandstone spires and formations. It is easy to see why the area has been called the “most photographed place in Utah”. The brilliant red soil contrasted with the green pines is a sight like no other.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Conversely, there is no place like Bryce Canyon, a forest of stone. The Hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) can be found on every continent, but here is the largest collection of hoodoos in the world! Descriptions fail. Photographs do not do it justice.
Bryce Canyon offers 2 viewpoints Sunrise point and Sunset point. There is a 1.3-mile trail that descends into the canyon and connects the two. Like most national parks, Bryce prohibits dogs on the trails. So Murphy and I watch the sunrise from the canyon rim. My only regret is not planning ahead a little better as there is a horse riding service that provides a tour to the bottom of the canyon. This looks really cool.
Given the close proximity of these parks along with Grand Staircase-Escalante, it’s amazing the difference in personality that each has. Southern Utah has the most dramatic everchanging landscape that I have ever seen, and With Moab, Arches and Canyonlands on the agenda, there is more to come. It is certainly a national treasure.