It’s been 43 years since I was last at Zion National Park, and it reopened Memorial Day weekend. Off I go.

I found this photo from May of 1977 at the Court of the Patriarchs with me (R) and my brother (L).

43 years later

They’ve removed the sign and the top two rows of stone, but I found the spot. And I really wish I still had a “boy-size daypack” right about now. I packed in too much a hurry. 😦

Zion is beautiful, and a bit chaotic, since its COVID-19 “soft opening”. A park of paradoxes. No entry admission charged. Crowded. No shuttles running, and no parking lots at most of the shuttle stops. Zion Canyon scenic drive is full virtually all day, and no more car are allowed in until some come out. I make 20 drive-bys and U-turns and give up.

It’s HOT, so I’m very happy the campground has electric service. Near 100 degrees in the trailer when I park, and takes hours to get the interior below 85. Note to Airstream: put a larger AC in the 23-foot trailers…

I’m only here one precious night, and “the Narrows” is a morning hike I don’t want to miss. At 5:20am, I get in the already-long line of cars near the lodge waiting for the 6am opening of the road.

The gates open, and I begin the parade-speed entry into the far end of the park.

I have none of the right gear for this hike. No “canyoneering” boots. No walking sticks. No Pelican case to keep my phone and 360 camera dry. No boy-size daypack.

What I have are an old pair of running shoes. I see a pile of “loaner” walking poles at the end of the dry part of the trail and borrow one. And as I wade through the 1-3 foot water, which represents most of the “trail”, I put my camera, phone, and car key in the higher pockets in my sweatshirt.

If only I had a boy-size daypack.

While everyone else suits up in their fancy gear at the quickly-full parking lot, I head down the trail – nearly alone for mostly of my hike.

The “Narrows” trail starts like this…
…but this is the fun part.

Those of you who have read this blog for awhile know that I’m prone to ankle sprains and breaking toes in KOA kiddie pools. But I take it slow, wearing my polarized sunglasses to see into the water as I choose my steps carefully.

It’s a slow go, but fun. Really fun. Like no other hike I’ve taken. And the early start means I’m virtually alone.

I’d like to keep going, but I have to check out of the campsite and drive to Capitol Reef National Park. The early start really paid off, since as I make the easier downstream trek, droves of hikers are heading up stream…

It’s hard to leave this kind a beauty.

And as I empty my trailer’s black and grey tanks, I notice that Zion’s dump station might just have the best 360 view in the whole park.

Leaving Zion via eastbound State Route 9 is spectacular.

Thanks to my “wide load”, the ancient tunnel becomes one-way. See the tunnel?

Should I just go? I’ve seen enough James Bond films – so I wait.

The Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel is over a mile long, and is a step back in time.

Remember this Scooby Doo episode?

And out the other side.

Next post? Capitol Reef.

PS: After I wrote this post, I found a photo of Grandpa and Grandma McDougall visiting the Zion trailhead to the river hike (Tempe of Siniwava). In 1965.

Gpa & Gma McDougall
Zion NP, Temple of Siniwava
September, 1965

4 thoughts on “Zion

  1. Thanks, as always, for sharing all this beauty with us. Glad you made your “hike” without injury.

  2. Stunning, Dan. Thanks for taking me away from Philadelphia humidity for a while. And I’m glad it was a safe hike.

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