Journey with Raven • Zion National Park
The last stop on our grand circuit would be the main part of Zion. Earlier we had made a brief journey into The Kolob, a remote part of the park accessible only from another entrance.
One of my favorite parts of Zion is near the eastern entrance, up off the valley floor, on the part of State Route 9 coming from Mt. Carmel. Here, the eggshell-colored Navajo sandstone seems to go wild in both form and color. The Checkerboard Mesa is criss-crossed with
Stone's throw away, a dry wash was overgrown with cottonwoods and other trees splashing the landscape with bold reds and oranges, yellows, and golds.
Later, we descended into the valley proper, the main part of Zion, by way of a long tunnel built earlier this century. Prior to that time, the only practical way into and out of the valley was from the south.
Inside the canyon, you're surrounded by monstrous peaks such as the East and West Temples, the Great White Throne, the Court of the Patriarchs, Lady Mountain, the Altar of Sacrifice, and other curiously named peaks. As the story goes, these names
The agent responsible for Zion -- etching the walls and scouring the floor for millions of years -- is the modest Virgin river. Though it spends most of its time meandering down the valley as little more than a trickle, it can achieve furious proportions, and it is at these times that it does the most work.
Over the millennia the continental plate has shifted. This made the course of the Virgin steeper, accelerating its erosive force. Tributaries, not heir to the same benefit, were literally left high above as the Virgin sliced sheer walls into the stone. Nowadays, several small waterfalls plunge hundreds of feet down the valley sides, testimony of the Virgin River's efficiency.
Once within the valley, we took the scenic drive northward. It was late afternoon, and the shadows had already made their way across the valley floor. By the time we got to the end -- the Temple of Sinawava -- the entire valley was in shadows.
Later that evening we set up the tripod near the visitor's center to get this shot into the valley. Compare the subtle colors, unhindered by shadows, to the views of the East Temple above taken earlier in the day.
The following morning we got up and made our way back into the deepest parts of the valley. Almost up to the Temple of Sinawava is Weeping Rock and the Hidden Canyon trailhead. As we started
Before too long, we were high above the valley floor, ourselves clinging to a chain fastened to the cliff as we approached Hidden Canyon. Eight hundred fifty feet below us was the parking lot.
Once we achieve the landing into Hidden Canyon, the valley was laid out before us, and from a dramatic perspective. Before, we looked up at the smooth vertical walls; now we looked across at them. Wow.
Yet Hidden Canyon has more subtle treasures to offer. Following the wash up to its source, we came across many little treats,
It seems like every place we visited, from Valley of Fire, to Bryce Canyon, to Arches National Park, to Canyonlands, and finally to Zion, had so much more to show than we had time for. And now our stay was at an end. By nightfall we would have to be in Las Vegas. The following day would find us aboard an airplane flying back to our familiar, if not somewhat mundane, world.
Last year, we concluded that a week was not enough to do justice to all these places. It's abundantly clear that two weeks is only slightly better. It's a big world, and this circuit is only a small part of it, and yet we still have barely begun to explore it.
Ah, well. There's always next time....
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