Continuing with our mini-trip from Las Vegas, we woke up in the hotel in Cedar City and wished to get an early start to see Zion National Park. Rain was forecasted for later that afternoon (and snow that evening!), so we needed to get up and at 'em!
We drove the hour southwest to Zion National Park and arrived around 10:00 in the morning. As with at Bryce Canyon, this place was brimming with spring break sightseers! The park ranger in the visitor center warned us to get the hiking done early due to the crowd and the pending rain, so we hustled to the end of the park road and worked our way backwards to the front of the park. Even so, the place was quite busy. It is difficult to sense the serenity of nature when surrounded by people, noise, and confusion, but we tried to make the best of it.
Zion is a gorgeous place. It is like a desert version of Yosemite National Park, if you can imagine such a thing. The Ancestral Puebloans, subsequent Southern Paiutes, and the much later Mormon settlers all lived in a gem of place! The Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park (and many other protected areas) were all formed from the same Colorado Plateau which covers the entire "four corners" area of the country. When the Colorado Plateau rose out of the ancient seabed in which it sat, all of these amazing geologic formations came into being.
We first went to see the so-called "Temple of Sinawava" and stroll along the Riverside Walk. While enjoying the scenery of the towering cliffs above us and the babbling brook at our feet, we noticed rock climbers in the middle of the cliff face above us. How frightening! I will never understand the desire to hang precariously on the side of a cliff!
Our next stop was to see the "Weeping Rock". This is an outcropping of rock that is covered with cool green moss and dripping water. We could stand right underneath the shelter of the cliff and watch the water dripping in front of us as if we were veiled from the world. So serene!
Our last hike was to see the Emerald Pools. This was a longer hike (about 1.2 miles round trip), but at the end of the hike we were enchanted by the pools of green and the dripping rocks around us. As with the Weeping Rock, we were protected by the outcropping of rock. We sat for a little while and rested while enjoying the cliffs above us, the emerald pool below us, and the waterfalls around us. We were enchanted!
By this time we were quite hungry! We picnicked in the car again (it was starting to get quite breezy outside), then drove to the Zion Human History Museum within the park. On the way, we passed the impressive "Court of the Patriarchs" which is a trio of tall mountains with steep cliff sides - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. At the Human History Museum we learned of the importance of the early Mormon settlers in the area, as well as the Native Americans before them.
At the exact moment that we shut the car door to leave the park, the rain started coming down. That was the clear signal that it was time to leave. We drove back through the remaining area of the park, back toward the interstate highway, then all the way back to Las Vegas where our camper stood waiting for us.
Although we had a lovely "vacation", it was also nice to get back "home". Home Sweet Camper.