We hit the road exactly at 11am heading to Zion National Park in Utah. It was a pretty easy drive mostly down highway 15. We came very close to the google driving time of just over 2 hours. I was pleased We made great time! I called ahead to the KOA in Hurricane Utah. I wanted to make sure we had a place to stay with a laundry facility. We were running out of clothes and it was necessary. KOA is typically more expensive than other campgrounds but they have all the amenities, like pool, laundry, and good showers, etc.
We registered and set up camp quickly. I wanted to throw the laundry in the washers, 2 loads, and dash to the pool to relax before we ran out of sun. The pool was situated behind the bathrooms and shower. As the sun came around, it shading the pool much to my dissatisfaction. I was wedged in the corner by the fence hoping to grab the last rays of sun when the pool guy came to clean the pool. It was almost 3:45pm. I watched him work to see if I’d be able to swim. His pace let me know that This job Would take until 5pm…….when he was off work. I cut my losses and went to watch the laundry spin.
The KOA receptionist was helpful with restaurant recommendations. She gave me a list of 200 in the area close by in 2 different directions. Overwhelmed, we popped into the truck and headed down highway 9 into the town of Hurricane. It seemed to have the most restaurants on the main street. This way is easier and we don’t get lost on the way back. We found a nice looking chinese restaurant called China Buffet. I usually don’t like chinese food(Larry does) but I was weak and gave in easily. It was actually very good. I was surprised how many vegetarian dishes they had. Win!!! Larry had 2 helpings and a small dessert plate loaded with goodies and a fortune cookie. Larry’s fortune said, “Better ask twice than lose yourself once”. Larry interpreted this about how GPS always gets us lost. LOL The only desert I got was my fortune cookie. I was hoping for a good fortune. I always believe the ones I like and discount or ignore the ones I don’t agree with. But this one said, “A lifetime of happiness lies ahead of you”. Wow! Agreed!!! I ate my cookie and Larry’s too.
We made it home without any GPS problems. We wanted to get an early start to see Zion the next morning. We only had one day in the park. We put the laundry away and went to sleep by 9pm. Larry was still sick with his cold but he rested while he was driving that day. Ha Ha. The alarm was set for 6:15am.
Driving into the park was wonderful as the sun was just coming up. The colors of the hills were warm and welcoming. We were packed for the day. A couple of backpacks, lots of water plus more in the cooler, and our food for the day. I usually make oatmeal on travel days. It’s faster to make and eat. I’ll add some fruit and Larry always adds sugar. It’s good and lasts till lunch. I mostly pack peanut and jelly sandwiches. Larry has 2. I also will take clif bars and an apple. We drove back through Hurricane into the park. The drive was only going to be about 30 minutes but we ran into a bicycle race halfway to the park. The traffic was slow for a bit but not bad. I thought about past events that I’ve raced in and remembered the early morning rush and anxiety. My day ahead was going to be another type of fun!
We drove through some really cute small towns and I remarked that the next time we come back we need to stay a lot longer. I especially liked the town of Rockville. It’s right below the canyon and Springdale. Springdale was beautiful as well and had a very nice bike trail that went for 4 miles. It was the Springdale Town Loop. This is on my list of things to do next timehttps://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/springdale-town-loop.html
I drove into the park and Larry got to be Looky Lou and take some pictures out the windows. Zion National Park! I saved myself another $35. Yes!!
I had read some old information on the internet about being able to drive the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive during the off season. I was wrong. They had a free shuttle that will take you into the canyon and makes stops at the major trailheads.
My friend’s Vern and Nancy told us we should hike Angel’s Landing trail. We first decided to drive the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway to the east entrance and work our way back. It was only 11 miles and we got to go through this amazingly long (and a bit scary) narrow tunnel. I was still driving. We stopped at some great pull outs to see the mountains. On one of our stops, we ate our yummy lunch. We did a small hike on the east side of the tunnel. Canyon Overlook trail was relatively easy and only 1 mile. The views of Pine Creek and lower Zion Canyon were remarkable. I was in heaven taking lots of pictures! We spent over an hour on this trail and it was well worth it.
Larry drove us down Highway 9 through the tunnel to where you park to catch the shuttle bus. Lots of people were already parked so we had to walk a bunch before we could hop on the shuttle at the Canyon Junction stop. We had the map to tell us which stop we wanted for each trailhead. It was well after 2pm. We really dilly dallied so we made the unhappy decision not to hike Angel’s Landing. We weren’t sure we could do it before dark and it looked pretty hard. Larry was still very sick so I thought we could do 2 smaller easier hikes instead. We are definitely coming back here and will need to stay at least a week to enjoy the beauty of this park. We got off on the last stop Temple of Sinawava. They had fabulous restrooms and we walked the Riverside walk for an easy 2 mile stroll. There were lots of folks on this easy walk. Tourists like us but with lots of kids and a few strollers. We made the best of it. It started out very warm but in the afternoon but as the sun went down in the canyon, it cooled off quickly. I had packed a lightweight long sleeve shirt to put on under my t shirt. Larry did not get the “What to take” memo so he only had a short sleeve t shirt. I felt bad with him being sick and all but not bad enough to give up my warm shirt. Sorry, it’s true! The river walk was very pretty and we saw lots of deer and squirrels. We both took a ton of pictures. You just Have to here!
We hopped back on the shuttle. The next stop for us was the Zion Lodge. More fabulous bathrooms and the lodge with an outdoor restaurant with beer. Noted! We had heard others say the Lower Emerald Pool Trail was not to be missed so we headed over the North Fork of the Virgin River to the trailhead. Another 1 mile hike that did have some small hills. Right at the beginning as we were hiking, we stopped with a group of folks looking at a tarantula!! Fantastic photo op! Larry doesn’t like spiders but he’s a good sport and acted interested. We got to the Emerald Pool about 5:30. It was very nice but my expectation was high so I was a bit disappointed. We decided to head back to the restaurant, have a beer and a snack and then call it a day. Larry had goosebumps. He really wanted a coffee but the restaurant closes at 6pm and the last shuttle out of the park was a 7. All they had was beer and soda. Their grill was closed too. We opted to have our own snack back in the truck. We saw more deer near the Zion Lodge and there was this massive cottonwood tree and I made Larry stand by it before we hopped back on the shuttle to leave the canyon. https://www.nps.gov/zion/learn/nature/fremont-cottonwood.htm
I really enjoyed our time exploring Zion. I did feel sad that we didn’t have longer to stay. We were still on the fast track to the Mexican Border before Larry overstays his visit in the U.S.A. We headed out with the sun setting in the canyon. The colors were so beautiful that I am already planning another trip back to Zion.