On theme with my national park dreams (and plans) lately, I’m remembering last March and a trip to Zion National Park.
Located in Southwestern Utah, Zion is home to natural arches and slot canyons, mountains, mesas, and monoliths. It’s a geologic wonderland. The more distinguishing feature, though, is the color.
The vibrant mountains are all shades of red, orange, burning ochre and rust that fades into beige and pink. Hues of warmth radiate through the layers of Navajo sandstone, and then there’s the sun overhead coursing through the valleys giving physical warmth and light to all the stunning features.
With March days blissfully warm compared to North Idaho, Zion welcomed us with open arms and smooth red roads with sweeping curves through wide valleys, tight canyons, and tunnels.
While spring can be rainy and unpredictable (causing flash floods in slot canyons, yikes!) we saw glorious days.
Early springtime in Southern Utah glows, and it’s not too crowded. The Zion Canyon Scenic drive, closed to all but shuttles April – October, is open to cruise in March. Although we stayed in St. George – just south west of Zion’s boundaries – we spent the better part of our few days there hiking in the park.
We drove the scenic road through Zion Canyon and hiked to the viewpoint on the Canyon Overlook Trail.
We took the Riverside Walk to the Narrows.
We climbed to the Emerald Pools.
We spent two days in Zion, and it wasn’t enough. We didn’t hike Angels Landing, and we came too early in the season to venture into slot canyons. Then there’s Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park so close, along with Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, and the Grand Canyon just over the Arizona border. I’ve got some more exploring to do…
Now a year later, it’s mostly Zion’s colors that saturate my memories. The intense natural beauty was also a reminder that I don’t need to travel far from home to find vastly different landscapes. The West is blessed with incredible variety.
Tomorrow we’ll be off to California to get a taste of Yosemite and Sequoia, but I know I’ll return to Utah someday soon.