SOUTHWEST FAMILY VACATION DAYS 2 & 3 :: ZION NATIONAL PARK, UT ::
After our early-morning hike through Bryce Canyon
and a great Thanksgiving lunch at Ruby's Inn, we drove two hours south to Zion National Park. Eager to move our legs and work off some of the turkey and gravy, we hiked the Canyon Overlook Trail before checking in at our next hotel. This fun and easy trail starts immediately before the Mount Carmel Tunnel and climbs up 370 feet over half a mile to a high viewpoint overlooking a scenic valley. Along the way we admired the cool shapes and overhangs in the red sandstone. Again, I was impressed that my mom was happily bounding up and down the rocks. There was a section of thin steel and wood planks cantilevered against the side of a cliff that bothered her, but that was just a little acrophobia, not any joint pain.
We stayed at the Pioneer Lodge
, just outside the gates of Zion. The place is over a hundred years old, and looks it on the exterior. Fortunately, the nice rooms have a contemporary design featuring handmade furniture. Ours also had a large jacuzzi and kitchen.
The next day, we headed back into Zion to hike the Riverwalk Trail and the Emerald Pools Trail. We were lucky with another gorgeous day, with morning temperatures in the 50s and a mid-afternoon high of 70. For most of the year, cars are not allowed in Zion Canyon. Visitors must park at the entrance and take shuttles. But during Thanksgiving and the winter months, the roads are open to all traffic.
The towering rock cathedrals of Zion are impressive throughout the year, but I missed the green vegetation. The trees were mostly bare, with just a touch of late autumn colors here and there. It was also far too cold to hike into the Narrows, which requires knee-deep to waist-deep wading through the Virgin River - although we saw several groups in dry suits prepared to do just that.
After getting our fill of Zion, we were on our way to our next stop: Vegas.
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