A couple weeks ago, we spent a week exploring Zion Canyon. I remember visiting there with my family around my sixteenth birthday, but hadn’t been back since. We were pretty surprised, and fairly disappointed, to find out you can’t actually drive your own car into the main canyon anymore. Zion National Park is the third most visited National Park in the U.S. and the road up and down the canyon is only about 8 miles long, so you can see where having that many visitors can become an issue. Thankfully, they have a free shuttle bus system that allows you to get on and off the shuttle at any of the nine stops in the canyon. It wasn’t ideal and made us feel more like tourists than anything, but it worked. The first couple of days it snowed and rained, but we got our bearings, figured out what hikes we wanted to do and enjoyed seeing the canyon with a frosty white layer on top, adding texture we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. Once the weather cleared up, we took turns hiking Angel’s Landing which has now claimed the #1 spot on our list of all time favorite hikes. It was the highlight of our week and therefore has earned itself it’s own separate blog, so stay tuned for that.
We camped outside the East entrance to the park which meant driving through a mile long tunnel on our way to the shuttle buses at the Visitor Center. Our kids love tunnels because our big old diesel truck is sooo loud. When Erich revs the engine, it just roars through the tunnel. We were perplexed after a couple days of Micah saying “Be a frog, dad” as we approached the tunnel. It was always “Tunnel, be a frog.” I was always like “What is he saying?!” Finally, on like day four, I figured it out when I was driving through the tunnel on our way to pick up Erich and the two older kids from their hike. River said “Rev it mom!” and Micah said “Yeah, be a frog mom!” It finally hit me, rev it…ribbet. I’m pretty sure I chuckled for the rest of the drive and we all enjoyed his request to be a frog after that.
After thoroughly exploring Zion Canyon, we ventured out to find some less crowded spots. We camped at a BLM site near the Belly of the Dragon, toured the Moqui Cave and meuseum, and explored the Moqui Sand Caves. We wanted to visit a slot canyon and settled on one called Peek-a-Boo. It required some 4x4ing in deep sand. We got partway in to it before we realized we weren’t going to make it in our heavy truck. We either needed to find a way out, or let some air out of our tires. We dropped our tires from 65 psi to 35 psi and it – was awesome. Like floating on air. It was one of my favorite 4x4ing adventures yet. On the way in, we saw a family hiking the three mile sandy road by foot and agreed they were crazy. The canyon was amazing, as you’ll see in the pictures below, and well worth the effort. As we were exiting the canyon, the “family on foot” finally arrived. I could see the relief and exhaustion on their faces, and even a twinge of panic as they faced the trek back. Without even knowing the other had done the same, Erich and I offered them a ride back. They didn’t hesitate. While they explored the canyon, we enjoyed a snack and rearranged our truck to accommodate their family of six. We enjoyed the drive out as well as the company. After dropping them off at their car, we stopped to add air back into our tires when we were flagged down by two young ladies with what they thought was a dead battery. It turned out to be their starter. Erich has enough automotive knowledge to try an unlikely trick that he was surprised worked! He sent them on their way and told them not to turn off the car until they arrived where they needed to be. We got back to filling our tires with enough air to get to a gas station where we finished the job.
It was a very full week. Zion was super busy and crowded and I can’t imagine it during summer break, but I’m so thankful for the time we spent there. The terrain is truly magical. Utah and Arizona have so much to explore, I don’t think one contract will allow us to see it all, but we will certainly try our best!