Snowbirding 101

Zion and home

Lynne and Fred spent the last leg of their journey in Zion National Park


We parked in the Virgin River Recreation Area, which is actually in Arizona (Arizona juts out in between Utah and Nevada for about 30 miles) and stayed there for a couple of days. We set up overlooking the Virgin River and our view was of an incredible red-streaked rock formation interspersed with cactus and desert brush.

There we made friends with a tiny, little chipmunk with a short fluffy tail (he loved the cornflakes we fed him and he was quite brazen about coming back for more) and the resident roadrunner who didn’t seem to mind us invading his space and loved little bits of hamburger.

Zion National Park is in Utah northwest of the Grand Canyon. It has a special significance for us because it was there that we decided to totally downsize and bring the fun back into our lives by going on the road (that was in 2001).

The Grand Canyon is absolutely awesome. On the other hand Zion Canyon feels more intimate, up close and personal. Rather than the spectacular view you get from the rims of the Grand Canyon, in Zion you are in the canyon looking up at the rims. People actually climb mountains like this—straight up! Climbing is one of the favourite activities (No, we didn’t try!) and the hiking trails are everywhere.

The Virgin River runs through Zion like the Colorado River runs through the Grand Canyon, except that you are right there beside it.

Because of the high volume of traffic, private vehicles are no longer allowed along the canyon and they have introduced a shuttle bus. The bus takes visitors up through the canyon, making about 10 interesting or scenic stops. At each stop you can get out, explore the area, take a hike or whatever and then catch another shuttle to take you further or back.

Our major hike and exploring took place at the Temple of Sinawava, which is the last shuttle stop at the head of the canyon. It’s not a long strenuous hike but so much to see!

The trailhead starts at the narrows then progresses into a marshy area along the river. From there you travel along right up close to the rocks.

Somehow, Zion keeps calling us back. We have visited Zion in the fall as well. There is no shuttle this time of year, so we were able to wander around on our own through the canyon and over into the Kolob area (in the northwest corner of Zion National Park).

It is spectacular and looks entirely different than other times of year. When we were there, some of the leaves were just turning—yellows and reds against all the colour in the rocks with the shapes and the textures—wow!

We happily travelled on back to Canada with only a horrendous wind (around Helena, Montana) and rain (Great Falls, Montana right into Lethbridge, Alberta) to contend with.

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