July 23 – 26
Leaving the cool pine scented air of the Kaibab Plateau, we head down to one of our lowest elevations in over two months. Our destination is Hurricane, Utah (elevation 3248 feet) not far from Zion National Park. Along the way we begin to see white capped red canyon walls and desert scrub before we finally descend into Hurricane.
Home base for the next few days is Willowwind RV Park where we have some welcome shade from the 90 degree heat. We set up camp and relax under the trees. There are several nearby restaurants so dinner tonight is easy.
Monday morning we’re up and out early to meet our guide at the Zion National Park Visitor Center for our Zion in a Day hiking tour. He’s there waiting when we arrive so we strap on our hydration backpacks, pick up our hiking poles and set off. His choice for our first hike is the Watchman Trail, a moderate 3.3 mile hike that ends at a viewpoint of Towers of the Virgin, lower Zion Canyon, and Springdale. The trail follows a number of rocky switchbacks as it climbs 368 feet to the overlook. As we descend back to the start of the trail our guide notices that there is a long line waiting for the park shuttle bus and heads off to a less busy stop about a half mile away. There we hop on the shuttle (standing room only) and head for Zion Lodge where our guide lays out a delicious picnic lunch in the shade of a big oak tree. After lunch our guide suggests hiking to the Emerald Pools but we counter with some time to let our lunch settle; so we hop on a shuttle to the upper end of the park. We exit the shuttle at the Temple of Sinawava and hike the 2.2 mile paved Riverside Walk alongside the Virgin River. The trail is crowded with folks either going to or returning from the Narrows (a dangerous area that our guide won’t let us enter as the probability of rain and therefore flash floods is high today). At the conclusion of this hike we decide to call it a day and ride the shuttle back to the Visitor Center. It begins to rain as we are saying goodbye to our guide and soon we are in a downpour. It’s been a fun but tiring day.
After a leisurely Tuesday morning, we drive into St. George to do some shopping (I need a real hydration backpack). For dinner we try a fast food Hawaiian restaurant with rather dismal results.
We had planned spend Wednesday in Bryce Canyon but the logistics (very early start, long full day) just did not work out. Instead, we spend a relaxing day in Hurricane.
Thursday puts us back on the road to our next destination.