In Zion, you are the player; you create the experience. Once you descend into the canyon by car or bus, you have your choice of many different hikes rated easy, moderate and difficult. We knocked off a couple of easy hikes and tackled a couple of moderate. Uneven footing, yes; minor drop offs, yes; steep, a little; exposed cliff ledges – I’ll buy the post card. We let the spray from water falls glisten our faces and enjoyed the one and only maple tree we’ve seen, its red leaves a reminder of home.
As soon as we entered the park, I felt her reach out to me as if to say welcome; strong and chiseled, but softened by time and weather. For twelve miles, we navigated the narrow road, with switchbacks and tunnels, but she was never far from my side.
At times, I could reach out the window and almost scrape my knuckles, she was that close. This was Zion National Park, and I felt as if I was wrapped in rock, in a gentle, caressing kind of way.
Zion is an interactive experience. At the Grand Canyon, unless you are ready to take on the challenge of hiking to the bottom (and then back up again), you are primarily an observer. You can walk along the 13 mile, mostly paved, flat section of the south rim and ooh and aah at the gaping gap in the earth, and it is worthy to be ogled, but in essence, you are on the sidelines.
This is a popular bus tour from Las Vegas and even for the senior woman in her blingy flip flops, or the gentleman in his expensive loafers, there is much to be seen.
We saw little wild life except a ginormous tarantula that greeted us as we stepped off the shuttle on our first hike. I was the first to see it and was convinced it was a fake Halloween prank – nothing real could be that big – easily 5 – 6”. The smarter people around me (everyone) convinced me I was wrong. That woke me up!
As we left the next morning, an assembly of wild turkeys, mule deer and big horn sheep came to the side of the road as if to say good bye, and made me feel as warm about Zion National Park as the rocks that welcomed us and never left our side. I loved Zion – can you tell?