We left Richfield and Arches National Park for what we thought would be a short easy drive, mostly on Interstate I-70 and I-15, heading to The Zion River Resort in Virgin, Utah and Zion National Park. Once we were up to seed on the highway, we thought the front end and the front tires were going shake right off the coach. I knew it wasn’t a flat tire as I checked the tire pressure monitor before we left. That left us to worry we did something to the front end or suspension when we raised it so much to get level at the site in Richfield. After a few minutes that felt like an hour, it all smoothed out. Turns out it was the road?! That left us with the road. Remember the I-70 ride to Arches? That reached an elevation of almost 8,000 feet? This road was much better. We are only at almost 6,000 feet. And now we were doing it in the motor home. The coach handled the 5% grades, both up and down, and the very strong cross winds with no problem,.
Zion National Park’s canyons and mesas boast an exquisite beauty that draws more and more visitors each year. With 220 square miles of explorable land, there is something for everyone. The park features short, mid-range and one to two day hikes, including some hikes requiring rappelling and swimming. It also features biking trails, horseback riding and numerous rappelling and canyoneering options. Zion’s 2,000 foot sandstone Cliffs are world renowned for their large wall climbs. If you hike in a slot canyon, keep an eye on the weather. If it rains, you can get trapped in a rising river.
Zion River Resort is a short hop, thirteen miles, to the South Entrance of Zion National Park. That gave us the opportunity to drive in many times at all different times of the day. And I could go back for a day of hiking. If you are ever going to visit a National Park, buy a Park Pass. It pays for itself with two visits! I wrote in Stop Twenty Two how different Arches was from Yellowstone. Zion is very different from Arches. In fact, Zion itself is almost like two parks. There is the main road, Route 9, that you drive from the South Entrance, up the switchbacks, over the bridges and through the tunnels, to the East Entrance. As you climb up and over the mountain, the views are spectacular. The mountains change from steep cliffs reaching up into the sky to what looks like someone spilled liquid rocks from up top, and the ripples are what is left after it hardened. Watch out for the Long Horned Sheep! They may be on the side of the road, until they are not. You will know if there was a sighting. Much like Yellowstone, traffic comes to a standstill as we all try for our perfect picture. If I do say so myself, I got some great shots, listed on the Post Cards 2021 Page.
The second part of the park is by shuttle bus only. As you enter the park from the South Entrance, you park at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and take one of the tandem shuttle buses that run every few minutes. This is what most of the visitors do, although no bus looked crowded to me. The buses follow a loop road with six different stops so you can get off and hike the trail you selected. In each area of the park, the rim, the canyon and the river, you can discover different plants and animals. The system works well and everyone had no trouble getting to where they wanted to go. However, unlike Arches this side of the park didn’t seem too handicap friendly to me.
Also near the resort in the town of Rockville, we discovered The Grafton Ghost Town, said to be the most photographed ghost town in the West. It has been featured as a location in several films, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And the nearby Grafton Cemetery. It is a long, bumpy, dusty, trail to get out there but well worth the car wash that follows. While we were there we met the Philip Varney author of the book Ghost Towns Of The West and many other books on the subject of Ghost Towns.
Before we left Virgin, I had a glorious day of hiking. Rather one long hike to a destination, I combined three shorter hikes of great variety. The first, was a first for me. I’ve never been down in a slot before. You scramble your way down to a dry creek bed and skinny between narrow canyon walls. Very cool! No, literally, it is cool down below the sunshine even in the Utah heat. I took the Lower Clear Creek Trail into “The Hobbit Hole.” Then I went across the road up the Canyon Overlook Trail. You climb stairs, cross a narrow cliff kind of path hugging the uphill side, cross an iron walkway that cantilevers out over the valley below, only to come to the top where the whole Canyon lays out below and in front of you. Just spectacular! After a lunch break, I followed The Pine Creek Waterfall Tail for a few miles along a small creek. As if all that wasn’t amazing enough, as I ended the hike and crossed the field to where the car was parked, I joined a herd of Long Horn Sheep eating their lunch. They kept and eye on me but would only get so close before heading for higher ground.
Zion River Resort is a very pretty campground on the valley floor. The sites are paved with plenty of shade trees but, there is NO cell service and internet is spotty at best. (this is the first time our Verizon wifi hot spot let us down) When we checked in, the park was full as there was a Fantasy RV Tour of twenty eight rigs already there. To the park’s credit, the day they all pulled out for the next stop, each site was cleaned, raked, and washed down within minutes of their leaving. Our ratings Kathryn 7, Paul 7, out of 10.
On to Las Vegas. Talk about something different!