Birthday in Zion

My one wish for my birthday was to be in Zion National Park. After staying in Moab and going to Arches National Park and Canyonlands I figured it had to be good. Utah is amazing in regards to the geology. After arriving in Vegas from our exciting week in Raleigh we went right to Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, Utah about 40 minutes from Zion.  Well, we did have to stop by the grocery store and fill up with fuel, but pretty much we just hit the road. We were both pretty tired after the weekend and I think if we would have held still we might not have found the energy to keep going. A second wind hit us and we motored on down the road. It was a pretty cool drive and the two hours went by quickly. Unfortunately the issue with Fat Henry was still there, but not much we could do about it then, except hope it didn’t get worse.

Sand Hollow was a really nice campground. A bit far away from any big towns, but Hurricane, UT is not too bad. It was an easy place to setup with really large pull-thrus, so that helped us get settled in pretty quickly. The views were really great all around us and it was so quiet we really were happy with our choice to stay there.  There were also quail and a roadrunner to watch when outside.  I always really love that.

View from our campsite.

Lovely evening view!

The other half of the campground was really sandy and when the wind blows….

Hard to believe we had been at 6000 feet on cliffs earlier that day.

Tried to catch the evening light.

The weather was pretty good other than a bit breezy, but the sun was much appreciated. Our side of the campground was mostly big rigs and a few tents, the other side of the campground was where most of the ATV people stayed, but it was not terribly noisy and the busiest part of the park was the lake where there were quite a few boats always present.  They sure got there early in the morning.

Very quickly on Wednesday we found hiking in Zion was a bit crazy because it gets so crowded. You can’t drive into the canyon, but have to park either in the little town of Springdale and take a shuttle to the visitor center or park in the visitor center and then take the shuttle into the canyon. It’s a really good system that helps with pollution and the lack of parking, but does get busy. When we went on Wednesday it wasn’t too bad because we didn’t try to park in the visitor lot right away, well, we did, but decided instead to go to a hike that you could drive to because it looked crazy busy and we didn’t feel like we would get a parking spot anytime soon. The hike we took was Canyon Overlook over towards the East entrance just past the tunnel and it was a pretty easy walk, but definitely had some big drop-offs that made it a little exciting. The views were awesome from the top. We went back to the visitor center after that and got super lucky and found a parking spot. Then we took the shuttle up to the Riverside walk which is a super easy walk so it was very busy with all sorts of people, not just serious hikers. That walk is also full of people who just came out of the hike called The Narrows in which you actually walk in the river. We didn’t do that, we really never planned on it, but it is supposed to be a great hike and very popular. That day was pretty mellow and we were just getting our bearings. I got my birthday wish and was happy.

Canyon view from the top.

Lots of these guys hanging around.

Don’t look down.

A quick stop on the riverwalk.

Zion isn’t called the land straight up for nothing!

Whoa.

When this river gets going, its probably crazy.

A few memories from the weekend and my birthday were pretty funny and kept me smiling:

While staying at Kelley and Darcy’s they were kind enough to leave us some magazines on end of bed for light reading.  AARP and Women’s Health- how to have great abs after 50.

Kat bought me an awesome tshirt that I had asked for much earlier in the year.

I was still thinking of my fantastic party and all the people we got to see again.

My AARP membership card came in the mail. Those guys are on the ball!

I got an email from my Dr reminding me that when you turn 50 you should get a colonoscopy.

My sister sent me an ecard called The Book of Everyone and it had reminder that 50 is the number of years in a “jubilee” period and it was the official beginning of the Summer of Love. I found out that Melissa loves me more than peanut M&Ms (and that is A LOT!). Thanks Melissa.

Since Zion was so crowded and we really just don’t like the crowds we went to Kolob Canyons on the west side of Zion just to see what that area of the park was like and it was great. It is really beautiful and nowhere near as crowded. It was super windy that day and we were feeling a bit lazy, so only took the scenic drive to the top and then a short hike up to the very top.

 

We had decided on Wednesday after seeing how busy Zion was that we would go early another morning and take the range guided hike to Watchman tower. It was held at 8 am, so we had no issues parking and it was nice to see the sun come up as we drove. The hike was really good because of the views and we like ranger guided hikes because you always learn a lot about the areas vegetation, geology and wildlife. After that hike we headed to Kolob resevoir because the lines to catch the shuttle were super long and we just couldn’t face it. Hiking Kolob resevoir trail was really different, but beautiful when we got to the end. At first it was like going across a mountain top meadow and then at the end we had amazing views of the canyon. We thought we would return to Zion one more time and do a big hike, maybe one of the more famous ones, but the morning we woke up we were just too lazy and it was pretty chilly, so we changed our minds and slept in.

Beautiful views to start the morning.

The view of Zion.

Looking the other way out of Zion.

Part of the Watchman tower trail.

Look- a “rock in “chair!

It’s a long way up!

Watchman’s tower.

The drive to Kolob Reservoir was full of spectacular views and not just on the hike!

Not bad views on a very quiet road.

The drive was full of far off amazing sites.

Beautiful aspens along the way and sunflowers too!

Does it ever end?

A nice hike through the woods, very different from being in Zion.

The view at the end brings you back to the canyons.

 

Our day at Kolob Canyon hiking.

Hiking in Kolob canyon

Kat navigating the river rocks

One of two old cabins along the hike.

Great views along the hike.

We were supposed to leave Sunday morning, but instead we extended our stay one more day. It is football season and once again we forgot! We were getting a pretty good TV signal too, so it made sense to stay. We found a restaurant/bar and went for a bite to eat for lunch and to watch the games for a little bit before going back to camp where we would move to a new site in the park. The restaurant was a bit weird in the fact that there was a tiny bar and bar area, but the rest of it was like a diner. There were a lot of people eating breakfast and we didn’t let that intimidate us or stop us from watching our football. Being a restaurant in Utah we had to order food, but that cheesesteak and jalapeno chips were not a bad thing. We did see that there were a lot of plates going out with what looked like small funnel cakes. It turns out that they were supposedly scones! We ordered one just to see what the hype was and sure enough it was definitely a small funnel cake. Not bad, but not a scone!

 

We went to Costco in Hurricane/St George three times for various reasons and not just because they had the absolute best samples ever. We went the first time to check out the cameras and the second to buy it and the third to get a jacket that Kat liked, but always for the free samples. We never had to wait for samples and on Sunday we could barely finish eating one before turning the corner to find another station. It was tough because we had just eaten while watching football, but we managed to chomp down a few. There were plenty of new samples each of the times we went. The fish sticks were pretty delicious and a favorite for both of us. (Kat:  This had to be the best Costco for free samples EVER!  Every time we went there were at least 6-8 different stations there, and they weren’t stingy about giving out samples.  We got our membership fee back in just those 3 visits!) We have so many nice pictures to share using that new camera. It’s a Panasonic Lumix DMC-Z560. Just a small one, but seems to work well for us. That Sunday afternoon was nice and we enjoyed our relaxing afternoon.

 

We left the next morning to head out towards Bryce Canyon where we would do some boondocking and more hiking. We both kind of felt we didn’t do enough hiking or exploring in Zion, but the descriptions of the hikes are a bit intimidating, so we hoped to make the best of Bryce.  We felt really good getting out and about again and our little funk was subsiding.  Fresh air and exercise will do that for you!

Get ready for more Utah hiking adventures and great scenery as we move on to some more of Utah’s spectacular parks -Bryce Canyon and beyond (along with special visitors).

 

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7 Responses to Birthday in Zion

  1. rich Livingston says:

    Southern Utah is one of my favorite places to drive through. I love the buttes, dark blue sky with puffy clouds, and the visibility that lets you see all the way to the horizon. Your pictures remind me of the trip I did this summer with my sister.

    • bertski3@msn.com says:

      Utah is definitely my favorite state for hiking and sightseeing. The geology is so amazing and varied. Brings a smile to my face!

  2. Diane says:

    Such spectacular views! Love you guys, miss you.

    • bertski3@msn.com says:

      It really was pretty amazing. And it just got better and better each place we went.
      Love and miss you guys too.

  3. Jackie says:

    Wow, awesome pictures! (And nice that you made the most of the Costco buffet!)

    • bertski3@msn.com says:

      The pictures don’t even do the real views justice. It was really spectacular and we had to do the hiking to work off our Costco eating trips. We were really happily surprised with that Costco, sometimes they are soooo disappointing.

  4. So glad you got to enjoy 50 in such a beautiful place. Love love all the presents people gave you and you really are getting older if you are wandering the Costco aisles for free samples lol. Miss you guys and sorry I’ve been out of touch. Really happy that you are having some nature time and I like the new camera pics very much.

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