It’s hard to pick a favorite canyon in Utah because they all have their own individual attributes. However, they do all share the majesty and color of soaring cliffs, deep canyons and wide plateau. What separates Zion Canyon from the others is its location as the highest canyon below the Colorado Plateau from which rain waters have carved out the cliffs and canyons of the Grand Staircase, which ends at the Grand Canyon. Ninety percent of the water that flows off the Plateau heads for the Grand Canyon, while Zion Canyon garners the rest and creates the Virgin River, a body of water that ultimately joins the Colorado River at Lake Mead and empties into the Pacific Ocean miles beyond. Over time the waters and seismic activity have forged this majestic desert area.
Zion is conveniently divided up into nine areas that are efficiently serviced by a shuttle service that runs every five minutes or so. One begins at the visitor center with a first stop at the Zion Human History Museum. Here you find orientation films, a bookstore and a spell-binding view of the Towers of the Virgin and Bridge Mountains.
From the Zion Lodge stop, you can walk along the Grotto Trail to The Grotto, which is a picnic area amid a grove of cottonwood trees. Along this path are several rocks with petroglyphs. From The Grotto there is access to two other trails…the West Rim Trail which has long drop-offs and not for young children or anyone fearful of heights. The last part of that trail runs along a steep, narrow ridge to the summit. OK. Check.
The Kayenta Trail is a moderate trail with not too severe drop-offs (I hugged the right side of the trail) that climbs to the Emerald Pools and a beautiful mini–waterfall cascading off the ledge above.
A little strenuous but well worth the effort. That took us back to the Zion Lodge where we had a quick snack, bought water (it was hot!) and took the shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava, the last stop on the shuttle route. It is from here that you can access the Riverside Walk, a moderate path along the banks of the Virgin that gains access to the Narrows and the slot canyon from which the Virgin River flows. Tons of people here.
Big Bend is a huge sweeping turn in the Virgin River with views of not only the river but also Angels Landing and the Great White Throne.
We hopped the shuttle back to the Visitor Center and back to Kanarraville and another canyon.
When we were in China a couple of years ago Andy and Dalice had an aiji (I probably butchered that spelling) name Seiko who was a great help around the house – cooking, cleaning and working with the girls to help them learn Chinese. She was from Hunan where they cook their food hot, as in spicy hot, and she took us to an outdoor market one day to buy some things for dinner. There was a spice lady there selling all kinds of peppers including sichuan peppers. I bought a generous bag, way too much actually, which I smuggled into the States. I love the heat and the sweetness and I use them liberally at times. This recipe with chicken stir-fry is good!