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Zion National Park, Hurricane, Utah…

Posted by on April 11, 2014

There are five National Parks in this area of Utah…we’ll try to visit each.

APRIL 11, 2014. We drove today from Nevada to a KOA Campground in a little town called Hurricane, Utah. The population here is about 14,000. Back home in San Diego, the population is 1,500,000. In fact, more people live in San Diego than in the entire state of Utah! We love San Diego. It’s been home for more than 40 years. But we’re starting to like these little towns we’re discovering on our Journey.

Hurricane will be home for a few days while we visit Zion National Park. The KOA is adjacent to a small creek and a cobalt-blue lake dotted with bass boats and hopeful fishermen, both in their boats and on the shoreline. Hurricane and nearby St. George, (population 75,000) are both “gateways” to Zion National Park. It’s of course the main attraction in the area.


The little lake “next door” to our campsite at Hurricane.

A SCAREY DRIVE! I’m really glad to have completed the drive today. Most of you know how little I like high places and bridges,  especially those spanning rivers and canyons. Well, as we approached Hurricane this afternoon from about 25 miles out, a road sign stated: “Expect high winds on mountain gorge passes.” I’m OK with high winds but not OK when they’re combined with “mountain gorge passes.” Silently, I tried to convince myself that there would be nothing ahead for me to fear. After all, the word gorge doesn’t necessarily mean a  deep gorge, right? Yet before long I spotted a narrow two lane bridge ahead spanning a deep canyon! A big, deep gorge! What choice did I have? Deep breathing and silent prayers got me across it, but after we were safely on the other side I informed Florence that I’m not sure I want to visit Colorado any time soon! I remember John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” song. Also some remarks a guy recently made to me:  “You’ll really enjoy the something-or-other summit in Colorado…it’s 11,000 feet high and the scenery is breathtaking!” Swell. I guess I’ll just have to take it one bridge at a time…and try to avoid those Rockies!

OUR IMPRESSIONS OF UTAH. But before I write about Zion, a few observations about what we’ve seen and experienced in the State of Utah during the last few days. It’s nice….really nice. The people are friendly and helpful. The towns and buildings are clean and well maintained. There is no trash along the roads or highways. There are lots of nice retail stores and tasteful shopping malls. The folks seem to spend lots of time outdoors. Hiking, biking, fishing and snow skiing are huge. The young people hangin’ out at Starbucks are clean-cut and polite. They hold doors for us. They say “Yes, sir” or “No, ma’am.” Utah feels like a nice place to live. I don’t know whether it has anything to do with the fact that a tad more than 50 % of the state’s residents are Mormon or not. Doesn’t matter. I don’t know anything about cost of living or weather extremes in this part of the state, but I certainly won’t cross it off our list of places to consider living when our Adventure finally comes to an end.


Zion National Park. Sheer bright-orange rock, set against an almost-full moon. Gorgeous! 

THE NATIONAL PARK. Zion is located 30 miles from Hurricane in a really tiny town called Springdale (population 499).  Can you imagine! You’d know everyone in town, literally! Upon entering the Park and passing by the Ranger Station, a 12 mile road leads from one park entrance to the other. We decided to drive all the way down and back again. Oh, no! Another narrow, winding two lane road, climbing from 3,600 ft. above sea level to almost 9,000! Right at the edge of these sheer rock walls! And I’d just recovered from the harrowing drive to get to this place a few days ago! Turns out the drive was excellent. Everyone else on the road drove slowly in order not to miss any of the scenery. Fine with me! All I wanted to do was drive slowly and not see the scenery! I made it up and back again. Didn’t see much ’cause I didn’t want to see it from the road. Fortunately we had our dash video camera running the entire time! (I exaggerate a bit about all this, but not too much!)

GEOLOGY AND ANIMALS. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep. It cuts through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone. The lowest elevation is 3,666 feet at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 feet at Horse Ranch Mountain. The park’s unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bats!) and 32 reptiles inhabit the park’s four life zones. The park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, rivers, slot canyons and natural arches. It really is beautiful although candidly not quite as dramatic as I’d expected.


This tunnel at Zion is more than a mile long. It’s Halloween-night-dark inside there! Maybe that’s where the 19 species of bats live!

Perhaps that’s because we just came from Valley of Fire in Nevada, and that was spectacular! 

Tomorrow morning we leave Hurricane, heading toward Bryce Canyon and beyond. We’re driving on Interstate 15…hopefully flat and boring with no deep gorges and high winds. I wanna be a “Flatlander” again for awhile!

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