Zion National Park is in southern Utah, about two hours drive from the glitter and glamor of Las Vegas. Las Vegas is open 24/7, but we couldn't get information at the Utah visitor information center. It's Sunday! These two neighboring states couldn't be more different. Although southern Utah is also desert, the red glow from the mountains and sand gives a warm appearance unlike the slightly menacing look of the Nevada desert.
We are camped inside the national park at one of the nicest campgrounds ever. We are in the valley and no matter where we look, red and white mountains tower above us. While we ate dinner facing east at the picnic table, we watched the sunset light inching up the craggy rocks. This is the first campsite we've had since we left home that had a fire ring and we burned imported wood from Illinois and enjoyed s'mores. That's camping!
Zion Canyon was carved by the Virgin River and even though it only gets fourteen inches of rain a year, the river adds a lot of natural green to the area. The contrast between the green vegetation, red rocks and bright blue sky is striking.
Recently Zion has adopted the shuttle system to cut down on visitor cars in the valley, similar to the system used at the Grand Canyon. Today we saw the eastern end where cars are still allowed. After a series of switchbacks the road enters a one mile long tunnel built in the 1930's for 1930's size cars. Special arrangements must be made if you want to take a motor home as big as ours through the tunnel. Tour buses drive through as well, taking their half of the road out of the middle where the tunnel is the tallest. Park personnel have this all well organized and traffic delays were minor. On the other side of the tunnel a hike took us to a view overlooking the valley and the switchbacks we had just driven.
We were here last thirty years ago and we remembered not being very impressed. But on a perfect weather day, we decided that those memories must be mighty cloudy. This park is gorgeous and we look forward to seeing the rest via the shuttle tomorrow.