Yesterday I mentioned Zion’s resident wild turkeys, Meleagris gallopava; but there are, according to Zion Park Map and Guide, 69 mammal species, 208 birds, 29 reptiles, 6 amphibians, and nine fish living here.
Some can be unexpectedly dangerous. One sign informed me that 2 children were injured by deer in 2000-2001. Deer! One child was bitten on the neck and the other trampled.
Another sign told me that in the past 11 years 6 people have died falling from the Angel’s Landing trail. Just last year a man drowned in the Narrows when the Virgin rose rapidly during heavy rain. Also in 2014 a woman fell 2000 feet to her death when her parachute didn’t open properly.
Although Ruth and I enjoyed hearing others tell about thrilling experiences, we played it safe. Our favorites among the 9 shuttle stops included Big Bend, where we could at least see Angel’s Landing far above. The strenuous Angel trail actually departs from The Grotto, where we chose instead the family-friendly Emerald Pools Trails. Overall, Ruth favored the Temple of Sinawava’s Riverside Walk and my favorite was Weeping Rock.
Yesterday’s photo showed the Court of the Patriarchs. Elevation in Zion National Park ranges from 3600 to 8700 feet. Although many Mormons settled in this Canyon, the 3 peaks honoring major Old Testament figures Abraham (6890 feet), Isaac (6825), and Jacob (6831) were actually named by a Methodist minister named Fisher.
Zion came into existence as Mukuntuweap National Monument in 1909. When tourists discovered it, a Lodge was proposed, but the Ponderosa pines needed for construction were on cliff tops. A cable operation was built to lower boards to the Canyon floor in 2 ½ minutes. Looking up vertical walls to those pines and thinking about building this system gave me the creeps.
Most of the college age visitors we talked to seemed determined to hike as many difficult trails as they had time for. The first and last 2 hours of shuttle operation each day were standing-room-only due to them and their equipment. The shuttles in between hauled the more sedentary and many were virtually empty.
The main Zion brochure that focuses on Canyon history and geology gets it right. “This national park is beautiful but not pristine.” It is also not uncrowded. Visiting Zion remains a great experience, but you have to accept the role of guest at a big party.