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Journeys Through America is a nonprofit organization providing educational material for all school-aged children across the country. The program will form partnerships with local school districts to provide children with a new, interactive, educational experience integrating the history of America and its National Parks. Journeys Through America's goal is to foster a fun and adventurous learning environment that will promote altruistic growth within our children and our greater community.

Zion National Park

By Sep 20th 2010 No Comments »

Zion National Park is located in Southwest Utah and is considered the most popular park in the state. The park was established in July of 1909 and is comprised of 229 square miles of unparalleled beauty.

When reflecting back on the park I find it easy to say that Zion was one of my favorites – its beauty is simply breathtaking and finding a fitting description to illustrate its splendor will fall short.  Zion is one of the most spectacular places I have been to thus far in my life – it lies surrounded by spectacular red and tan sandstone formations – with the Zion Canyon and its carved narrows a symbol of its essence.

We arrived for our three day visit at Zion completely awe-struck by our surroundings and tremendously excited to explore the park.  We set up our camp at South Campground – making sure to choose the site with the best view – be sure to head towards the back of the campground as those sites are near the Virgin River and face the rugged red rock terrain.  We headed to the Visitor Center to find out more information on the park, its hiking trails and popular things to see and do.

The great thing about Zion is its convenience and sense of ease you have while getting around the park.  A shuttle service has been established, free of charge, for park visitors.  The shuttle stops multiple times along its 6-mile stretch of road heading into Zion Canyon – dropping tourists off at the Zion Lodge, Weeping Rock and Big Bend to name a few.  While at Rocky Mountain National Park, you have to utilize a shuttle service to get to the most popular trailhead in the park.  This service, to me, was much less a service, and more of a nuisance. Overcrowding and fewer buses running make for an extremely uncomfortable experience.  At Zion, the shuttles run in an almost over-abundant pattern and even include an educational audio tour that plays during your trip.  Additionally, a second shuttle loop heads to the neighboring town of Springdale, making six stops at convenient locations…how cool is that?

After getting a plethora of information at the visitor center we jumped on the shuttle and headed up into the Canyon. We scheduled two hikes in the park for our first day, and another day hiking into the Narrows was planned for day two.

Our first stop was at the Weeping Rock – aptly named for the water that drips through the sandstone – water that has been working its way through the complex systems of cracks and pores for 800-1200 years. One wrong turn later and we ended up 1.5 miles above the canyon along the Hidden Canyon trail.  Wrong turns usually end up poorly, but luckily for us we were rewarded with magnificent views of the canyon – a great introduction to the amazing beauty that Zion has to offer.

Our second hike took us one stop south on the shuttle to the Middle Emerald Pools trailhead which then connects to the Lower Emerald Pool and eventually, the Lodge.  At every turn we were rewarded with spectacular vistas and jaw-dropping panoramas. That day I walked away with hundreds of photos and images burned into memory that I hope will never disappear.

Our second day at Zion was spent hiking The Narrows – the most popular activity to do during the summer months.  The Narrows begin 1 mile north of the Temple of Sinawava.  The hike takes you up the Virgin River, walled by Zion Canyon. At times, the width of the canyon is only 18 feet.  Because of this you must be aware of the weather at all times, since flash flooding is apt to occur, giving the Virgin River additional life and force.

The trip into The Narrows was amazing.  The nature of the hike adds so much character and makes you feel like a canyoneer exploring the unique personality of the land. I recommend it to anyone heading to Zion, regardless of your capabilities – it is not a difficult hike and you are able to hike as far into the canyon as you please.

Overall, like I said before, Zion was amazing in every way possible. At night we watched the sun set over the red sandstone mountains, casting an orange spell over its peaks. Every turn, regardless if it was wrong or right, proved to be more spectacular than the last.  I will have memories to last a lifetime and a beautiful, peaceful & serene image forever cast in my mind. John Muir once wrote that “everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” With all its grandeur and tranquility, Zion National Park is that place for me.

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