I entered the park through what I assumed was the least popular entrance but it had windy roads and amazing views. It also had a mile long pitch dark tunnel that my desire to take a picture of was taken away by my irrational fear of tunnels.
After entering the park I had two concerns
1) getting a spot in the campground... I was told it fills up quickly
2) my car's brakes started to make a funny noise.
Unfortunately I didn't take a single picture of the drive to the campsite. I was later told that the entrance I came through has a completely different landscape then the part I would explore.
I also assumed I would exit out the way I came in... Again I was wrong.
A happy ending to this story is I did get one of the last campsites. It wasn't ideal and it was close to the visitor center which meant a lot of foot traffic... But I did get full cell phone service.
The next morning a family of deer scared me to death when they decided to have breakfast behind me and I was unaware until a random fellow camera got out their camera and took a picture.
To explore the majority of Zion they make you take a shuttle around. Shuttles in the parks are pretty common Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon all had them.
This was my first time taking it and I absolutely loved it. I didn't have to worry about the dreaded parking and it was easy to hop off and explore a section of the park on your own.
Half of the reason I loved this park so much is because the crowds weren't crazy and I didn't feel like I spent more time waiting/driving then exploring.
I heard two older ladies talking about how they hated the shuttle... How it takes too long.
Obviously they have never lived in a city and depended on the bus to get around. The most I ever waited was five minutes (if that).
I hoped off the shuttle four different times. I was planning on just taking it for the loop drive and wasn't planning on hiking so I just wore my regular tennis shoes.
The first stop I immediately regretted the lack of hiking boots because I found a "secret" trail and walked right down a valley in-between two canyons.
I got off again at the turn around point for the shuttle. I wasn't planning on it and actually sat in my seat until the driver turned off his engine. This area was crazy busy and I had no desire to walk down the busy trail... But I did and it ended where the canyon walls meet and with water streaming between them. I decided to join the brave handful of others and take my shoes off and explore the waters path way.
It was AWESOME and one of the perks of my trip. I didn't care that I didn't have water shoes on (if anything this was a point I was happy that I just had my tennis shoes and not my heavy hiking boots).
If I ever go back to Zion I'm going to attempt the 16 mile "narrow" hike that leads you all the way down the water. (I'm pretty sure I'll have to learn to swim before then).
The next stop was a small little hike that lead to "Weeping Rock" a spot where water mets through two rocks and it appears to be "weeping"
Here I also witnessed two foreign men put hairspray in their hair. They were doing this national parks thing all wrong.
The finally stop I decided to explore were the emerald pools. There was three of them and it stated that it was about a mile hike to the first one and .8 miles and .something miles to the last one.. Totally doable.
I got up to the second pool and thought the incline and elevation was going to kill me. But I needed to see the third. And then I had my first hiking fail. I realized the time and that it was past seven and I knew the sun sets around seven and I was at least a mile from the shuttle... The shuttle that stops running at 8:30.
So I immediately turned around. (I never made it to the third pool.. I was probably super close) and not thinking I decide to follow the sign to the "grotto." I had no idea where the grotto was or if it was close to a shuttle. I just knew I recognized the word.
In reflection I should have just retraced my steps and headed back the way I came. But what's the fun in that?
On this hike I accidentally saw the sunset and it was the fastest I have ever walked a mile with elevation change. (Also the one time I did not have a light source on me).
I made it to the shuttle and felt like this hiking fail lead to a mini-hiking victory.
When I got back to my tent and explained my hiking fail/victory to James he encouraged me to go on a five mile hike the following day stating "the kolob canyons is one of my favorite hikes." (he apparently has lots of favorite things to do in the national parks.)
Five miles seemed crazy to me at the time but I finished it with no problem.
At the end of the hike there was a Double Arch Alcove and it was well worth completely the hike to see.
the bright colors were absolutely crazy beautiful.
I think Zion will always be one of my favorite parks because it made me realize the joy of challenging myself when I'm hiking.
Also making me realize I enjoy having little hiking victories. (especially when there isn't anyone else around)