Zion National Park Utah

May 14, 15, 16,  2018Our route from Lake Powell to Zion River Resort RV Park and Campground brought us through Zion National Park via Highway 9 which is an extremely scenic and winding road traveling through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel, a 1.1 mile tunnel which began construction in the late 1920’s and completed in 1930.  The tunnel was built to provide direct access to Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon from Zion National Park.   Today, the tunnel is restricted to size of vehicle and is operated on an alternating one way basis.  The mountains on the east side of the tunnel have distinctive shapes, colors and grooves which keep the eyes fascinated on what it sees.  On the West side the mountains take shape as large sheer faced rocks which seem to protrude from the earth in single pieces.  First sight of these mountains will keep the viewer in awe.  The remaining portion of the 229 square mile park consists of Zion Canyon which runs 15 miles along the Virgin River with walls up to 1/2 mile high.  The park is so popular that private vehicles are restricted from entering the Zion Canyon portion.  The park provides a free shuttle service running between 9 different stops in the canyon most of which have hiking trails ranging from mild to extreme.  

Unfortunately dogs are not allowed on the buses or on any of the trails so we had to find something to do with Chase.  I knew this ahead of time so I made arrangements for him at Doggy Dude Ranch just outside the park.  We would drop him off on the day we arrived and tour Zion Canyon the following day picking him up after we saw all we could see.  We arrived at our campground fairly early and decided to find a carwash where we could attempt to resolve our retractable step problem.  We had to drive about 10 miles further out to find a place and at the same time we found a suitable grocery store to stock up on supplies.  Once we finished we headed to Doggy Dude Ranch to drop off the kid.  We had passed by the kennel the day before and were a little apprehensive for it didn’t look up to our standards from the road.  

When we got there to drop Chase off we pulled in front of what looked like a double wide mobile home with a sign on the door which read “do not come to this door, go to the side door”.  Another sign went on to say they were closed from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and to please respect their lunch hour.  I looked at my phone and it said it was 2:15 p.m. so we were in good shape.   In front of the house where we parked were a few antique looking items and some junk.  Down the hill from the house were what appeared to be the kennels which were a few fenced in areas with tarps over them and signs that said “DDR staff only”.  I walked around to the side and found a door about halfway back.  The screen was shut with a solid door behind it and there was a sign hanging on it which said “OPEN”.  As with the front door there were a few other signs which I didn’t bother to read for the open sign was enough to tell me the place was open for business.  

I opened the door and immediately several small dogs began to bark and across the room a woman who was sleeping on a couch sat up and said “please do not come in and close that door”.  The house smelled very canine and there was a cash drawer with money sitting right inside the door.  I panicked.  I didn’t know what my next move should be so I started walking back towards the van thinking we’d have to find someplace else to put Chase or just abandon the plans to see Zion Canyon altogether.  Just as I rounded the corner the lady came out of the house and said “its there something I can do for you?”.  I walked toward her and said “yes, I have boarding reservations” to which she asked “what is the animal’s name?” Some other words were exchanged and in a few moments I began to feel a little more comfortable with the lady and we began discussing why I was there.  I asked if Chase was to be kept in the pens down from the house and she told me he would be kept in the house with the small animals.  She assured me he would be treated as family and that we had nothing to worry about.  I then took her around the corner to meet Chase and they hit it off immediately.  We left the poor kid there and went back to town to find a place to eat dinner (since we were free).  We both worried about leaving him there for 24 hours but each had enough confidence it would be alright.  In town we found a Chinese restaurant and enjoyed the meal and went back to the campground to worry some more until we crashed.  

I don’t think we either one slept well but we were up at 6:30 getting ready to meet the campground  shuttle bus which would take us to the park.  The short ride to the park took us past Doggy Dude Ranch and we looked for signs of Chase trying to escape but saw nothing.  Upon arrival at the outside of the park we disembarked and walked across a pedestrian bridge spanning over the Virgin River into the park.  Here we joined a cue waiting for the tandem busses taking visitors through the park.  Our plan was to ride all the way into the park to stop number 9 which was called The Temple of Sinawava and then work our way back through the canyon in time for the 2 o’clock pickup by the campground shuttle.  The park shuttle ran very close to each other and there was never more than a ten minute wait.  We decided to hike to the narrows at stop 9 by way of the Riverside Walk which was a 2.2 mile walk.  Hikers with proper water gear could go further into the narrows by walking in the river most of the way.  This walk was over 9 miles.  The Riverside walk was plenty for us.  When we got back to stop 9 we boarded a waiting  shuttle taking us down to stop #8 “Big Bend”.  Here we took a few photos and watched as a climber was scaling one of the sheer cliffs above us.  A few minutes later we hopped on the shuttle to go down to Stop #7 “Weeping Rock”.  We took a hike up to the weeping rock which was short but steep and when we got to the end we found ourselves being dripped on by the weeping rock.  We then hiked back down the trail and boarded the shuttle which took us down to stop #6 “The Grotto”.  We decided to hike the trail which lead from The Grotto to the next stop #5 “Zion Lodge”.  It was a short 1 mile trail with not much elevation change and like everything else in the canyon with lots of awesome views.  Zion Lodge was a restaurant and some cabins where visitors stay.  We took some photos here and boarded the shuttle to the next stop #4 “Court of the Patriarchs”.  This feature had three distinctive rock formations for which the stop was named.  From here we boarded the shuttle once again to stop # 3 "Canyon Junction” where the Zion Canyon road meets Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, the one we came in on.  The next two stops on the shuttle from here were # 2 Museum and #`1 Visitor Center where we entered the park that morning.  It was 12:30 by this time and we decided to spend the next hour and a half finding a lunch spot and doing a little shopping before the campground bus came for us at 2. We found a good cafe and James had a Kale salad and I had fish and chips.  

The campground shuttle got us safely back to Chappy and we quickly unplugged and headed to Doggy Dude Ranch to see if Chase survived the past 24 hours.  To our pleasure he was completely intact and the lady said he was a very sweet customer.  Then she charged us $70 for the boarding.  With time on our hands we decided to drive 26 miles to Kolob Canyon at the northwest corner of Zion.  The park map said it had a scenic drive and canyon views at the end.  We drove the entire distance and at the exit for the canyon entrance the sign said “CLOSED”.  Crap! We drove all that way and didn’t get to see.  Yet another “next time” scenario.  Oh well, we had our boy back and a beautiful evening ahead of us so we went back to our campsite and enjoyed.  

The next morning we got up and broke camp with plans to have breakfast somewhere on the road.  

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