Well folks, the Christmas and New Year’s holidays are almost over – literally a few hours left of the weekend and the first work day of the new decade starts – tomorrow is January 4th….But in the next few hours I will try to catch up on posting photos and writing a brief set of notes about what my family and I considered the noteworthy points about some of the trips we took during this vacation.
So lets start — first topic: ZION NATIONAL PARK. In planning our trip during the week of December 20-25th we had several destinations in mind (Las Vegas of course — it was the place we were going to stay the nights, the Grand Canyon, Zion). ZION was certainly a very pleasant surprise — its beauty was quite something! But first things first. If you are willing to spend only a day at the park — which is what we planned — then you can certainly make a day trip out of it. Plan to leave your hotel in Vegas early in the morning. The trip is about 170miles (one way) — we stayed at the Signature at MGM Grand — and will take you approximately 3 hours of driving. Here is a link to the driving directions (per Mapquest — our GPS system showed similar route)
Once you get close to the park, you will enter the town named Hurricane — interesting name where you will see many rock and jewelry shops. We did not get a chance to see any of them as on the way in we wanted to spend as much time as possible in the park so we did not stop. Later that evening, on our way out of the park everything was closed — surprise ! We had forgotten that it was December 24th — yes we visited ZION on Christmas Eve. Needless to say there were plenty of benefits of that — most importantly — the park was near empty. We felt we had the place to ourselves. One of the park rangers told us that there are 5000 cars that enter the park daily in the summer!!! On Dec.24th there were may be 5
Once in the park, we went to the visitors center (only a couple of miles after the main entrance), where we took a map and were told that the best thing to do for a day trip is to take a drive first on the North Fork road (along the Virgin River) and then backtrack and take Route 9 / Zion Mt.Carmel Hwy through a couple of tunnels and as far as we would like to go past the two tunnels.
It is very difficult to narrate all the beautiful views we encountered on both roads. The North Fork gives you access to see the Grotto, Angels Landing, Big Bend, West Rim, Court of the Patriarchs, Temple of Sinawava…. all these names are neat but the best thing to do is to see the photos (at least) – my descriptions will not do them justice.
The views from the Zion Mt. Carmel Hwy are very different — also spectacular… Here you will get the benefit of climbing through a series of switchbacks in the road. Since we were pretty much alone (or one of the few cars in the park) it was very easy to stop or pull off the road at many of the pullouts and of course took tons of photos….Going through the tunnels gave us the opportunity to see some interesting views as the tunnels have “windows” to let natural light in — as they were built in the 1920s and finished in 1930, there was no provision for electricity — and none is needed as the tunnels are small and the “windows” provide plenty of light and of course give you the opportunity to see the canyons framed in a different way.
On the way out of the park we stopped at a bridge just before the visitors center and again had the opportunity to snap some great photos….
The return journey back to Las Vegas and our hotel was uneventful — we spent the time recounting all the different sights we had encountered and deciding when we will make a longer trip to ZION next…. Hopefully soon