Friday, November 9, 2012

Zion National Park

Guess what's happening right now? It's snowing again! :) And quite heavily, might I add. Everything is beautiful again. I know a lot of people who don't like the snow, but I guess since I never really experienced much of it, it's still quite fascinating for me. I can see people having snow fights and making a snowman. Oh, so lovely! :) The snow always makes me so happy and cheerful. It's such a beautiful time. 

I was thinking about the last time when it snowed and we were wondering if we would be able to make it to Zion for our weekend trip. Well, we did make it :) It hadn't snowed there yet and the roads were clear, too. Zion National Park took us by surprise. I guess I wasn't expecting it to be so beautiful. I had gone through some pictures on Google and didn't think it was anything extraordinary after experiencing Yellowstone. But I realized, when you're in Zion, no matter how many pictures you click, it'll never do justice to the beauty of it. 

Ankit on one of the trails
Ankit and I usually get out to have a picture clicked with the park entry board for memory. This time we didn't bother because we didn't expect Zion would be anything special. I greatly regret not doing so because when we finally entered Zion, our eyes popped out in amazement. But no worries, I'm very sure we'll go to Zion again sometime soon because we realized we definitely need to spend more time here.

The entrance fee is $25 for one private vehicle, which is valid for seven days. This fee also includes free unlimited shuttle service that takes you from the visitor center into popular view points within Zion National Park. In fact, the shuttle is the only way to travel inside Zion and I think it's quite a convenient way to see the park. Shuttles run from April until October 28. We happened to be there on October 27. It does, however, run on weekends in November, too. But after October 29, private vehicles are allowed to drive through the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. There are two entrances into Zion National Park and one huge visitor's center from where the shuttles run. The shuttle is a hop on-hop off service and we didn't have to wait more than a minute for the next shuttle to arrive, so it's very convenient that way. 

Me on one of the trails
The park is located in Southwestern Utah, around Zion and Kolob Canyons, and protects incredible rock formations and high Navajo sandstone cliffs. The geology of Zion and Kolob Canyons together represents 150 million years of mostly Mesozoic-aged sedimentation. This park is comparatively smaller than most other national parks but has a wide variety of hiking opportunities. The hikes around Zion is what brings out the charm of this park. 

We must have spotted about 50 deer all over Zion. It was just so beautiful to see these creatures walk around freely around us, graze and soak up the sun. It was a wild, yet peaceful atmosphere. We even saw a beautiful reindeer who was moving too fast for me to click a picture.

From the shuttle, we noticed rock climbers on these high rocks. I can only imagine how beautiful it must be for them to get a top view of the entire park.

Upon entering Zion, a park newspaper will be given to you which has all the latest information about the park as well as a hiking guide. There are several hikes that can be done at Zion. They are divided into three categories: Easy, Moderate and Strenuous. As unfit and lazy as I am, I decided to do one of the Easy trails called "Lower Emerald Pool Trail" which my husband agreed to because we had had a long day and were slightly tired. The Emerald Pools Trail is divided into three parts: Lower, Middle and Upper. Middle and Upper were both moderate hikes which I was not interested in doing. 

Here I am hiking up to the Lower Emerald Pool. The hike was just beautiful. The pathway was covered by lush green trees and surrounded by red sandstone canyon. 

By this time, Ankit had taken over the camera because I needed to concentrate on staying alive :p

Lower Emerald Pool

We  finally reached the Lower Emerald Pool.  

This was quite a pretty sight, I'd have to say.

After this point, Ankit was more pumped up and somehow convinced me to hike up to the Middle Pools and that was NOT an easy hike. Sometimes I wonder what got into me that I said "yes." I was ready to hike back from this point because I was really tired and I honestly had no energy to hike uphill. I guess I was curious, too, like Ankit, to know what was up there. It was already so pretty. I'm glad I agreed, though, or I would've never seen what I saw next.

Middle Emerald Pool

Here is a picture of the Middle Emerald Pool. Look at that view. I wish I had a better camera sometimes because it can be frustrating when you have all this beauty around you and you can't capture it. I'm a huge fan of clicking photographs. It's a hobby that I enjoy very much. Someday I'll own an awesome camera which won't be too big and heavy to carry. 

At this point, Ankit looked at me and said "Do  you really want to come this far and not see what's at the end? You're almost there" and yet again, I agreed to hike up more to see the Upper Emerald Pool. I'm glad I did it, too. The hike was tricky; loose gravel, red sands, and the uneven terrain made it a tough hike. But I didn't kill myself this time like I almost did in Yellowstone :) 
On our way to the Upper Emerald Pool, we encountered some spectacular views of the canyon

Here it is! The Upper Emerald Pool. And it is beautiful! Feels like another world. You're standing there in the middle of the canyon, realizing how tiny you are in this huge world. Kind of like the feeling you get when you see the Grand Canyon.

We were thinking "Wow, what a trail" and later, we did our research and realized that there are more trails fifty times prettier than this one in Zion. Those are the strenuous trails which I very conveniently skipped. I've promised Ankit that I'll be more fit the next time around and do those 8-10 hour long "strenuous" trails. 
 Upper Emerald Pool
Our cabin suite
While we were visiting Zion, we stayed at a resort called Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. It was beautiful. It had everything anyone can need while on vacation. We had our own cabin suite with attached bathroom. We were hoping Ankur Bhaiyya and Astha would come with us so we booked the suite. It had a double bunk bed, a sofa bed, TV, DVD player, microwave, coffee maker and central heating. Pretty fancy for a cabin in the woods and we loved every bit of it.

This was such an awesome trip. There was a mini golf course, volleyball court, tennis court, swimming pool, table tennis, pool table, trampoline bungee, a zip line, paintball, pony rides, rapelling lessons, jeep tours, ATV rides and the list goes on and on. We took the unlimited coupon for mini golf and did the zip line over the ranch.

Ankit and I agree that Zion National Park has become our new favorite national park and might have even surpassed Yellowstone. THAT is saying something, guys. You must must MUST visit Zion National Park. I can't believe it's not that famous. I'm sure there are other beautiful places in this world to see but one cannot rule out Zion from that list. 

Lots of love from Ankit and Akoo :)


1 comment:

  1. Zion National Park lies in the northwestern section of Utah and provides some of the most dramatic and variable scenery to be seen anywhere in the national parks system.

    Utah National Parks