Zion was a big must-see item on our trip list so we were stoked to finally be there! We found an awesome free camping spot about 15 minutes away from the park. Our site had 360 degree views of towering rock formations, a cave nearby with bats that entertained us at night, coyotes howling all around us, and miles of biking trails. We had plans to meet up with friends in Las Vegas, so we only had one full day to absorb Zion as best as possible. After my girls weekend in the Midwest I was all out of whack from traveling back and forth through so many time zones in a short time, and found myself awake to watch the sunrise over the pink, white, and red rock formations. Watching the stars give way to the sun over the towering rocks is something I will never forget! It was so peaceful and serene, a confirmation of why we are out here on the road living like nomads. I woke Ryan up and we headed into town to enjoy some veggie omelets and fresh fruit at The Park House, a quaint café with outdoor seating and friendly service. They even used herbs fresh from their own garden!
Fueled up from our delicious breakfast we headed into Zion. With only one day to explore we wanted to see as much as possible. A portion of the park is closed to vehicles but there is free shuttle system that takes visitors through, stopping at 9 different spots for people to get out and explore at their leisure. We spent the morning driving through the portion of the park open to vehicle traffic, stopping to take a moderately strenuous hike to an overlook of Zion’s most notable rock formations. We also got to drive through a tunnel cut in the rock that is one and a half miles long. Only one way traffic is allowed through the tunnel so a ranger hands the last car a baton to carry through and hand to a ranger at the other end, signaling the tunnel is empty and traffic can pass from the opposite direction. I was super excited to be the baton carrier for our caravan through the tunnel!
We spent the second part of our day riding the free shuttle around the remainder of the park. The bus offers a narrative on noteworthy spots around the park as well as a description of what riders will find at each shuttle stop. We opted to ride all the way to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava, and then disembarked for a nice afternoon hike along the Virgin River to the mouth of the Narrows. We saw several deer on the river bank and enjoyed gazing up at the pink and white sandstone walls from the bottom of the canyon. It was a very comforting feeling to be at the bottom of the canyon, probably because of my aversion to heights, but overall there was just a really serene and peaceful feel to Zion.
We jumped back on the shuttle and rode it back to the visitor center where we took a short bike ride as the sun began to set and moon climbed above the cliffs of Zion. Another full day of wonder and adventure came to a close and we retired to our camp to watch the bats fly and the coyotes howl.