Sunday, May 12, 2013

Zion National Park

The decision to visit which national park, between Zion and Smoky, was a tough one and by a chance freakiness, Zion won. With 4 days in hand, zion now seemed perfect to live in solitude away from all people.

Day 1: Morning started early with me driving from vegas to Zion. The drive amidst the desert outside vegas is always fascinating. What made it even more interesting was the audiobook with me - The story of O (Not complete yet, review some other time). By the time i reached Zion, i was sleep deprived and exhausted. Visitor center pitstop helped clarify my schedule for next two days. Then, i went to the Zion lodge and slept at the lush green grass right outside it. Sun was almost up but the thick bark tree, standing at the center of the park, provided cool shade. I did a quick hike to Lower Emerald pools, then to Upper Emerald pool via the Middle Emerald. The Upper Emerald pool was a delight. Surrounded by canyons from three sides, it was totally therapeutic to sit there and just watch those large rocks. There were a lot of visitors, today being a saturday, hence, the tranquility of this place was getting disturbed. So, i moved on after about 20 mins or so, walking to the Grotto. A short 0.7 mile trek, but it offers great views of the Grotto, its nice collection of trees on this desert soil. It was a sight to watch. From Grotto, i took the shuttle to Temple of Sinhawa and there did the 2 mile round trip hike that takes you to the entrance of narrows. The hike was ok.  The trail is flat and paved for the most part.  

Day 2: To avoid the Sunday crowds, i decided to go for the 14 mile round trip hike to the arch at Kolob canyons. Kolob canyons are located at a 45 min drive. Even though they are close to Zion, they get much less crowds and are equally scenic. The trail was interesting as it criss-crossed a creek 17 times, yes i counted. Trails at these canyons change from rocky to sandy, and sometimes proper ground if we cross a forest. Sand comes mostly from disintegrated rocks over time. The arch at the end of the trail was not as scenic as one finds in photographs, nevertheless the hike makes up for it. I was tired after the hike and came back to the lodge to sleep and watch game of thrones. 

Day 3:  Hike to Observation point is one of the most recommended hike at Zion and please add my vote to this as well. As usual, i started early, took the the 7:15 am shuttle and at the trail head by 7:45 am. Observation Point trail has an elevation gain of 2100 ft and round trip distance of 8 miles. The trail is carved out from the rocky sides of the canyons. At a point near the middle, it even goes through a tunnel and by the looks of it, it appears humans have made it. In other words, the trail is very interesting, one of the best trails to hike. It is similar to trails at Yosemite, fascinating views as one goes up. The view from top is worth all the effort when going up. You get to see the entire valley. On the day that i hiked, it was a partially cloudy day, by the time i was returning down, it even rained few drops. It was a perfect day to hike.  Overall, i would highly recommend this trail. I did a Thai lunch at Thai Sapa just outside Zion. This was followed by the movie - Zion - Treasure of the gods at the Zion theater where the screen is as big as a six story building. Movie was decent (little bit on the bad side).

Day 4: This was a relaxation day. It started out by a nice breakfast at Bear Claw cafe at St. George. Their waffles look amazing, i had the french toast with Chocolate filling and i still remember its taste. That good! But they didn't had wifi, so i went to a cafe nearby - 25th Main and cupcakes and sat there writing blog and reading stuff, while drinking coffee, ofcourse. At around noon, i headed back to Las Vegas and once again, The Story of O, playing in my car. 

Photos can be seen at -
Zion National Park

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