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Harry and Judy's RV Trip
No Photos 4th Jun 2011 - Summer 2011
Day 49-Zion Canyon National Park

Headed to Zion Canyon National Park via Route 12 to 89 to 9, which is the road I’m apprehensive about. Big sign at the entrance to the road warning about the road and big rigs but it’s much shorter and how bad could it be, really?
So we get to the entrance to the park and the ranger says normally they would tell us to turn around because the length limit is 50’ and that’s about what we are, but OK, go ahead, just wait for the escort when we get to the tunnel.
And then the views start. First, right in front of us is a MASSIVE rock they call the checkerboard because it kind of looks like a checkerboard (see the picture). Then we’re in the middle of slickrock which looks like somebody dropped warm putty and it just oozed into layers (oh, never mind, I can’t describe it).
All the while we’re going down into canyons, up into mountains always with huge rock formations of all different colors, shapes and sizes around us. And the twists and turns! This is one of the best places on earth.
Now we get to the tunnel. I thought we’d have to wait a while for the escort but we’re the second vehicle in line and we only waited maybe 10 minutes. Then the escort at the other end stops traffic and we go through. It’s a 1.1 mile tunnel with a few windows carved out of the rock every now and then. We have to drive down the middle ‘cause we won’t fit height wise. Not bad at all.
But wait, we haven’t gotten to the switchbacks yet. Now they start, there’s nine hairpin turns with no guardrails, one right after the other, round and round bends that you can’t see around with rocks jutting out of the walls, oncoming cars that you can’t see, and all this on a 6% downgrade. Harry drives, I take pictures. In retrospect I’m glad all nine came one after the other, it was over quicker. But it was wonderful, one of the best experiences of this trip.
At the end is Zion Canyon National Park, which is really busy today, being Saturday. There’s two campgrounds that are first come, first served and they’re full but we made reservations a bit down the road anyway. They started using a free shuttle into the canyon in 2000 to lessen the traffic and it works well. There’s 8 stops along the 6 mile road to get off and on and a canned narrative on the way up canyon that tells you what you’re looking at, which trail to take to go where, lots of historical info and safety warnings. Every one ends with “Your safety is your responsibility, there have been fatalities in the canyon”. There’s the Virgin River that runs alongside and it famous for flash floods. Last summer a flash flood closed the road and the guests at the only hotel in the canyon were stuck for a while. Some trails are closed ‘til July because there’s still runoff from the snow. There’s lots of biking and hiking but mostly rock climbing, these rocks are sheer cliffs, mostly sandstone, deep red, brown and black. Lots of cottonwood trees losing their seeds and it’s almost like it’s snowing. But as beautiful as this was, we both agreed it didn’t come close to the road we were just on.
Stayed there about three hours and then continued to our campground in Hurricane, UT, about ½ further south. It went from 60 degrees this morning when we left to 93 now. Signs all over the shuttles saying “Got water? Drink it, you’re in the desert now”.
Arrived at Sand Hollow State Park and Campground about 5. There’s a manmade reservoir in the middle of a “sand hollow”. Sandstone all around us, there’s an ATV track near here, so lots of ATV campers, boaters for the reservoir and the sites are great. We’re on a hill overlooking the reservoir with a nice breeze. Cooled down at night and we sat out and watched the stars come out. Amazing what you can see when it’s dark.

Next: Day 50-Sand Hollow State Park
Previous: Day 48-Kodachrome Basin & Grand Staircase, Escalante. UT

Diary Movies

Through the tunnel...look for the little window in the rock

Navigating a switchback

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