It’s been a dry winter so far here in canyon country, but it snowed a bit a couple of days ago, so I drove over to Zion National Park for a few hours yesterday afternoon.
This is one of the back trails, off the beaten path. Footprints indicated that three people had been there ahead of me today. Four or five miles up the trail (and it’s up all the way), there’s a waterfall from a small creek that drops hundreds of feet into a narrow canyon. I didn’t go that far … I was wearing a t-shirt and it was starting to cloud over with more snow coming in.
The road through Zion was built in the 1930s. It was one of the great work projects of the Depression era. Coming in from the north – about 20 minutes from where I live at Angel Canyon – it winds through canyons like this one …
…and then comes to a solid wall of rock that you can’t go around because, just to the right of the road, it’s just a huge drop-off to the bottom of the canyon. So they dug a three-mile tunnel through it.
A trail goes around the other side of the drop-off. You can see what the builders were working their way through – the tunnel goes right along the inside of this cliff. They drilled a couple of windows for light and for drivers to be able to see what’s outside as they go through. Here’s one of the windows from the other side of the cliff:
Continuing on the trail, you edge your way past a small dome cave:
Looking across at the cliff that the tunnel goes through, you can see the beginnings of what, just a few million years from now, will be a much larger dome cave:
And then you get your first glimpse of the famous iconic cliffs of Zion National Park:
A few hundred yards further along, the trail ends, and you’re looking at the giant bowl with those same cliffs on the other side. After emerging from the cliffs on the left, the road winds down to the bottom:
Here’s looking over the edge at the road. When it snows again, it will look like fairyland. But this trail will be too dangerous to hike on.
This huge bowl canyon is still being carved out by the various branches of the Virgin River. When you see a flash flood during a summer storm driving humongous boulders as it goes, you begin to understand how this enormous canyon was/is being created. Here ‘s looking straight down from the top:
On the way back, a mountain goat suddenly appeared from behind a rock:
He was soon followed by his whole family:
They are a lot more sure-footed than I am!
But dad keeps a watchful eye on all of them.
It was a magical end of the day at Zion National Park.
* * *
Have you been to Zion? Let us know about your trip in a comment or on Facebook.