Travel dates :: May 2 – 7, 2016
After surgery in St. George, Utah and getting the blessing to continue traveling we headed to Zion National Park. Back in early April I had found a rare 5-day cancellation in Watchman campground located right in the national park and we couldn’t wait to get there.
We pulled in early Monday afternoon and immediately knew we were going to love it here.
We saw a small deer right before the campground entrance.
Breathtaking views of the canyon – everywhere you looked.
Here is a panoramic of our spot at AO14R – right on the Virgin River – we loved listening to the rush of the river from our site. After a rather stressful week in St. George with Hadley’s surgery we honestly needed this. The sidewalk will take you to the Visitor’s Center and park entrance – just about a 5 minute walk away.
Our first afternoon there we picked up the Junior Ranger booklets at the Visitor’s Center so we could get started on them.
And we walked across the river and into the small town outside the park entrance. We decided to have an early dinner at Zion Canyon Brewing Company. The stew here was AMAZING and we washed it down with a cold beer from the local brewing company. The kids loved the pretzel bites on the menu.
The next day, after doing school in the morning, we walked along the Pa’rus Trail to the Zion Human History Museum. This was an EASY walk on a paved trail.
Beautiful views on either side of the trail. Isn’t it gorgeous?
We watched the introductory video on Zion National Park at the museum and attended a FREE Park Ranger program about the important role of erosion in the canyon. Hadley even volunteered to help the ranger illustrate erosion by playing a big game of Jenga!
Then we took the shuttle back to the campground. Zion has many FREE shuttles running back and forth into the canyon. You can hop on the shuttles in many different spots along the route. Depending on the time of day and I guess they can get a little crowded!
We would spent the next few days hanging out at our campsite, playing in the dirt, going on walks and hikes. . . .this quiet, beautiful place was just what the doctor ordered.
Later in the week we took the shuttle all the way to the Temple of Sinawava – the farthest spot inside the canyon that the shuttle runs. And we went on the Riverside Walk into the Narrows area.
The Riverside Walk is an easy, paved walk along the river. It’s gorgeous (and a bit crowded).
We had packed a lunch and ate at the end of the trail. We weren’t the only one with this great idea – and lots of people camped out and had lunch. The squirrels were VERY aware that this was common practice and were very aggressive!
The famous Narrows hike was CLOSED while we were there – the water levels were too high. It was a bit unnerving to see that the flash flooding sign was on “possible”. . . but this is a constant reality for the canyon area. We learned that as little as 2 inches of rain can cause a major flash flood – and that rain doesn’t even have to fall in Zion National Park but in an outlying area! If you plan to spend a substantial amount of time in Zion it’s a good idea to learn about the risks of flash floods. Just last September seven people were killed in a flash flood in the park – very sad and very scary.
The kids learned a lot about the risks of flash flooding and other important park history as part of the Junior Ranger program. Learn more about Junior Ranger programs here.
We loved it so much here that we extended our stay with a 3-day stay in loop B, in spot B004 (thanks to another last minute cancellation!). This spot had a HUGE space between us and the next spot, with a beautiful set of trees that my kids played around.
The kids played in and around the trees for hours. . . .
Isn’t it a cool tree? We loved this spot and would recommend it if you like a spot with plenty of space to spread out.
Jeremy went on a few strenuous hikes by himself and I tried to get caught up on work while the kids played. Couldn’t ask for a more beautiful place to set up an “office”!
While at Zion we decided to make s’mores one night. I think people assume we do this on a nightly basis – but we don’t do it nearly enough. Imagine having a fire pit in your backyard – just because it’s there doesn’t mean you use it every night. But the weather and setting was perfect for a campfire and s’mores so we bought a bundle of wood for $7 from the local shop (ouch!) and made s’mores. It was delightful and made us all happy.
We were here in early May and at times it looked like it was snowing here – the Cottonwood trees were full of white fluffy seeds being spread all over the park. . .
Isn’t it beautiful?
It was here at Zion that we decided that instead of heading to Bryce Canyon (our next planned stop) that we should jet up to Idaho to see family. The weather was still a bit chilly and we were anxious to get “home” to the northwest.
Zion was a refuge for us. It was a RESET button after a stressful couple weeks and it was so perfectly delightful I don’t have words to explain just how beautiful and relaxing it is. I hope we can make it back when the Narrows is open (I’d love to hike it) and when we don’t have a broken arm to fret about.
We left on Mother’s Day. . . and the line to get into the park seemed to go on for miles! I can’t even imagine how busy this place gets in the summer. Everyone wants to see the beauty. . . .
From here we head North – stay tuned!
A friend peeks out of the ground near the Zion Visitor’s Center. . .