Zion National Park
After touring the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park on 3 June 2007, Kelly Wood and I returned to Kanab, Utah and had one of the best dinners of our honeymoon at the Rocking V Cafe (we both had HUGE ribeye steaks).  We then drove to Zion National Park hoping to find a campsite, but the campgrounds were full by the time we arrived.  Instead, we settled for checking into Zion Park Motel in the nearby town of Springdale.
It's an amazing tunnel to drive through!  Kelly stands at a pullout near the west entrance of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel which is 1.77 kilometres long.  The hole in the wall above Kelly is one of five gallery windows blasted out of the sandstone cliffs to facilitate the construction of the tunnel.  A fascinating account of this engineering marvel can be found here.
There's a short trail that starts at the east entrance of the tunnel and leads to the top of these cliffs.  Visible from the same pullout is The Great Arch.  The east entrance of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel is on the other side of the cliffs at right.
On the morning of 4 June 2007, we checked out of the motel and headed to one of the two campgrounds in Zion National Park to snap up a campsite.  We found a nice site beside a river, but we thought it was rather strange that the parking spot and the tenting area are separated by a paved walkway cutting through to allow other campers access to the river.  As such, the parking spot and the tenting area appear to be two separate campsites because the paved walkway looks like another road (more on this later).  In any case, we pitched our tent, paid our camping fee, stuck our "occupied" stub on the signpost beside our parking spot, and then left to go exploring Zion Canyon.

From spring to fall, Zion National Park prohibits public motorized traffic into Zion Canyon but offers visitors a free shuttle bus system which ferries people into and out of the canyon as well as connecting with the town of Springdale.  After leaving our car at the visitor centre, we hopped on a bus headed into Zion Canyon and disembarked at the trail head known as "The Grotto".  From here, we hiked up the popular trail to Scout Lookout, and while Kelly waited for me there, I continued up to the spectacular perch known as Angels Landing.  Because of the serious exposure between Scout Lookout and Angels Landing, the park service has installed chains on the route and has also cut steps in the sandstone at key locations.  I found the chains to be largely superfluous and thoroughly enjoyed the easy scramble up to the top.

After rejoining Kelly at Scout Landing, we returned to the trail head (about 4 hours round-trip) and caught a bus back to the visitor centre.  We then drove into Springdale to do some shopping and have dinner before taking another bus into Zion Canyon in the evening.  This time, we got off at the last trail head known as "Temple of Sinawava" and hiked the very easy Riverside Walk which ends at a narrowing of the canyon known appropriately as "The Narrows".  The paved trail ends here, but many people continue further upstream by walking in the river.  Kelly and I were content to turn around here and return to the trail head and ultimately the campground.

When we drove back to our campsite, we were a little shocked to see another car with a tent pitched right beside it in our parking spot.  As we had feared, someone had mistakenly thought that the parking spot was a separate campsite from where we had pitched our tent.  Of course, they also conveniently ignored our "occupied" stub.  Luckily, the parking spot was big enough to accommodate both our cars and their tent, and I simply asked our "squatters" to move their car over a bit so that I could park there too.  After spending a very warm night in our tent, Kelly and I got up early the next morning, packed up, and left Zion National Park.
The West Temple is the highest point in Zion National Park There is a nice view of The West Temple (2380 metres) from the parking lot of Zion Park Motel.
A most impressive monolith! This is Angels Landing as seen from below.
Hard to believe that there's a trail--let alone a paved one--going up there! The paved trail winds its way up the headwall on the right.
Hardcore mountain bikers or wheelchair athletes could probably make it up this trail. Kelly hikes up the paved trail.
The trail is exceedingly popular; you'll see all types of people here! This view gives a good perspective of the winding trail.
A lot of effort must have gone into building this trail. Kelly continues up the headwall.
A nice spot to get out of the hot sun. Sonny finds a little nook to crawl into.
You could make a killing if you set up a lemonade stand here! Kelly hikes through Refrigerator Canyon, so named because it offers some shade from the sun.
Walter Ruesch was the park's first custodian. These immaculately built switchbacks (there are 21 in total) are known as "Walter's Wiggles" and connect Refrigerator Canyon with Scout Landing.
Doesn't look so bad from this angle... This is the view from Scout Landing of Angels Landing.  To the left in the distance is The Great White Throne (2056 metres).
The chains actually aren't great for keeping your balance since there is so much give in them. Kelly starts up the chains.  She would turn around soon after this.
On a busy day like this, bottlenecks are inevitable.  Kinda like the Hillary Step, eh? Here is a more dramatic view of the connecting ridge between Scout Landing and Angels Landing.
See the people behind me? This is looking back along the connecting ridge to Scout Landing.
This is virtually a life-size photograph of the lizard. Zion Canyon is full of little lizards like this one.
It's still just an easy scramble even without the chain. The route starts to get steep near the top.
The exposure shouldn't really be a factor unless you do something foolish like wander too close to the edge. Sonny hikes up some slabs near a considerable drop off.
A nice reward for making it to the top! A pink cactus flower is in full bloom near the top of Angels Landing.
In the photo, Scout Landing is just to the left of my shoulder. This is the view to the north of the upper canyon from near the top of Angels Landing.
I'm actually standing on the highest point while taking this picture. The Great White Throne dominates the view to the southeast.
Yeah, that's me.  Believe it or not!  I radioed Kelly to take a photo of me on the high point. This is the view from Scout Landing of Sonny (indicated) standing on the high point of Angels Landing (1763 metres).
Photo courtesy of Kelly Wood
Winding through the canyon far below is the North Fork of the Virgin River. This is the view of the lower canyon to the south (toward the park entrance).  Red Arch Mountain (1806 metres) looks indistinct (left of center in shadow) from here.
This was a really difficult self-timed photo to set up! Sonny heads back down the connecting ridge to Scout Landing.
With the sun shining in the canyon, it felt like anything but a refrigerator! Kelly hikes back through Refrigerator Canyon.
This flower was high up on a wall and rather difficult to photograph. Here is a yellow cactus flower.
Go out and climb this before they shut down the trail permanently! Angels Landing gets baked in the afternoon sun.  Click here to read an interesting article about Angels Landing.
Every bus driver gives a very interesting running commentary as you travel through the canyon.  And it's not taped! Kelly rides the shuttle bus back to the visitor centre.
The temperature is so much more pleasant in the evening! Here are some of the cliffs along the Riverside Walk.  At the bottom is the North Fork of the Virgin River.
It was nice for a change to dip my feet in water that wasn't ice cold! Sonny cannot resist dipping his feet in the Virgin River.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Wood
Bring some water socks if you want to continue up the river. Kelly reaches "The Narrows" at the end of the Riverside Walk.
I would return for another visit to this fabulous park in 2016.