With our lunch and water packed in our small backpack, we headed over to the office shortly before 9:00 to catch the Zion RV Resort shuttle to Zion National Park. There were five of us taking the 14 mile shuttle ride this morning.
The shuttle driver dropped us off in Springdale just outside the pedestrian entrance to the Visitor Centre in the park.
We walked across the footbridge over the Virgin River ...
...to the park entrance...This park used to be called Mukuntuweap National Monument (meaning "straight canyon" in southern Pauite) until 1918 when the acting director of the National Park Service changed it to Zion National Park. Zion is a biblical word meaning a place of peace and refuge or sanctuary and is an exceedingly important word to Mormons because of their previous history of persecution in the 1800's...
After paying our $30 entrance fee (good for 7 days), we walked to the Visitors Center and the start of today's adventure!
There is a free shuttle that runs through the park...The Zion Canyon scenic Drive is accessible by shuttle bus only through October 25 and on weekends in November. The shuttles have room for backpacks, climbing gear, and three bicycles. The shuttles are free and you may get on and off as often as you like at each point of interest.
We got on a shuttle...and decided to get off at the first stop...The Zion Human History Museum. We had to wait about 10 minutes for the museum to open
There are great views of the Towers of the Virgin and Bridge Mountain outside...
When the doors opened we went right into the auditorium to watch the 22 minute orientation film. The film highlights the dramatic landscapes of the park and examines the history of the canyon. After the film, we wandered around the exhibits.
After we were finished at the museum, we jumped back on the shuttle and decided to take it to the last stop, Temple of Sinawava....
...and the trailhead for the Riverside Walk...described as "Minor drop-offs. Paved trail follows the Virgin River along the bottom of a narrow canyon."
The end of the Riverside Walk trail is the start of The Narrows trail...well, it's not actually a trail, you have to walk in the river. "The Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon - 16 miles long, up to 2,000 feet deep, and at times only 20 to 30 feet wide. The Narrows, with its soaring walls, sandstone grottos, natural springs, and hanging gardens can be an unforgettable experience. It is not, however, a trip to be underestimated. Hiking The Narrows means hiking the Virgin River. At least 60 percent of the hike is spent wading, walking, and sometimes swimming in the river...." Ummm....no thanks, we won't be doing that hike!
There are a bunch of runners and shoes at the end of the trail before the steps down to the river...one great big lost and found!
This was posted at the start of the Riverwalk trail...good to know if you are thinking about hiking The Narrows...
Then we caught the next shuttle, getting off at the next stop, Weeping Rock...and the trailhead to three trails. The shortest, Weeping Rock Trail is the one we are going to take today...the other two are long and rated as 'Strenuous'...not today!
That was the end of our hiking today...we jumped back on the shuttle that was heading down canyon back to the Visitors Center. We're just heading into the Zion Lodge stop here...but we didn't get off. We'll check the lodge out another time.
We got off the shuttle at the Visitors Center, where we had started our day, and walked out of the park through the pedestrian entrance/exit.
We spotted this on our way in this morning...and it caught our eye! No, not the bike rentals...LOL! Of course, we had to go in for a brew! Zion Canyon Brew Pub...
And there you have it...our first day at Zion National Park! Tomorrow we plan on taking in more hikes...longer and more strenuous ones. Looking forward to it!
Steve found a very informative website...Joe's Guide to Zion National Park...while researching the area on "Master Hikers" John and Pam's blog....Thanks guys! If you're into hiking you must check out their blog.