Like Baby Bear’s porridge, Zion National Park is just right in March. It’s probably too cold for me in January, and I already know that it’s just too hot on a June afternoon. On February 9, 2015, I blogged about our unpleasant summer of 2014 visit. Making our escape, Ruth and I vowed to return to Zion in March because that’s a lower-traffic month when visitors can usually take the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive on their own all the way to Temple of Sinawava. However, Zion’s helpful Map and Guide mentioned that this is subject to change. I should have checked.
Ruth & I arrived on March 24, 2015, to find the 450 slot parking lot mostly closed for resurfacing, cars parked haphazardly everywhere, the shuttles already running, and the crowd incredible. I went into the visitor center in a foul mood and learned that a lot of Utah school districts were taking spring break earlier than usual. We had 2 choices: take the shuttle up Zion Canyon or come back in December, or February.
We boarded a shuttle and a couple of seats had water puddles in them. I asked the driver about this. She frowned but wiped them dry. “The Narrows!” she groused. I didn’t yet know what that was.
By the 2nd day my foul mood had lifted and I was a shuttle booster. Ruth & I got off at all 9 stops, did many activities at each, and seldom had to wait for more than a few minutes for the next shuttle to appear. Because it was spring, shuttles began running at 7 am and the left the Temple of Sinawava, the last stop, at 8:30 pm. In summer they will run from 6 am until 9:15 pm. The drivers were unfailingly friendly, helpful, and knowledgable. If it hadn’t been for an observant driver, I would know nothing about Zion’s wild turkeys. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even have seen them.
And that’s part of the beauty of Zion’s shuttle system. I didn’t spend my Canyon time looking at a curvy, narrow, busy road. I spent it looking at exceptional scenery. Sharing one of our best National Parks with many others enhanced the experience. In March, most of those others seemed to be similarly dressed university students on spring break. Pausing for frequent selflies, most were hiking as many trails as they could. So, another shuttle bonus was getting to hear about their experiences. One young man in serious hiking gear named John told me that Angel’s Landing was the best hike. He called it majestic but scary. I just googled Angel’s Landing and one reviewer (April 29, 2015) said, “I’m not normally afraid of heights, but some places along this trail made me question my sanity a couple of times.” Nevertheless, 900 reviewers rated Angel’s Landing excellent and used words like stunning to describe it. It’s said to be the #2 attraction in Zion National Park.
The #1 attraction, then, has to be The Narrows. Many attempt it. Few probably make it to the end. It’s described as moderate but 16 miles–one-way! It reportedly involves river crossings in mid-calf to mid-thigh, often very cold Virgin water. A million tons of sediment are carried down Zion Canyon’s Virgin River each year, and flash floods that collapse roads and strand visitors have occurred.
to be continued…