Forewarned by the friendly staff of the Vermillion Café that nothing would be open in Kanab on Sunday, we decided today would be ideal to visit the Zion National Park. Neither of us had yet had the chance to spend any significant amount of time in America’s National Parks, so we did not know what to expect.
Zion is beautifully organised. Private vehicles are not allowed in the park. Instead, eco-friendly, propane-powered, shuttle buses run every 6 minutes or so from the Visitor Centre to the (mysteriously-named) Temple of Sinawara at the top of the canyon.
Finding no designated motorcycle parking, and a full car park, we parked alongside the RV’s – just outside the car park boundary.
he shuttle makes a number of scheduled stops at various places of interest along the canyon. We got off at Zion Lodge, a motel providing the only guest accommodation in the Park. More importantly (to us anyway), the Lodge also provides the only café and gift shop in Zion.
Unfortunately, being a sunny Sunday, half of Nevada (and his wife and kids) had joined their Utah cousins for an afternoon stroll … and they all wanted lunch! We queued for an hour for our sandwich and root beer. (Next time, we vowed, we will bring a picnic!)
Lunch finished, we thought we should try one of the ‘less strenuous’ trails. The Emerald Pools seemed to fit the bill, “… easy to moderate drop-offs, round trip 2 miles, average time 2 hours”. Perfect.
The walk to the lower pool was, indeed, easy – we could tell by the number of rather overweight senior citizens who were returning from the climb. The lower pool was somewhat disappointing, being rather drier than we had expected, so we headed on up the trail to the middle and upper pools.
The number of old folk diminished significantly by the middle pool, and we saw only one couple of ‘wrinklies’ returning from the upper pool, as we started our climb. They looked quite fit, but clearly found the steepness of the path quite intimidating on the way down.
The temperature was again around 100 degrees. But the 350 ft climb to the upper pool was rewarded by some stunning views across the canyon on the way, and we were grateful for the chance to rest our weary legs in the shade provided by the towering cliffs.
Back at the Lodge, we took the next shuttle all the way to the top of the Scenic Drive, and took the Riverside Walk to where the Canyon narrows. Here we paddled in the Virgin River, before it started to rain, and we thought it time to head back to Kanab.