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Trip Report Rocks and Roads in Utah

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Just back from 10 wonderful days in southern Utah, where I spent 3 days in Zion and 2 days in Bryce, and capped them off with 4 days at the Red Mountain Resort near Snow Canyon State Park in St. George, Utah.

It was a perfect trip, and thanks to all who gave advice and suggestions. Car rental at the St. George Airport was a real bargain at $150 total for a week, and the drive up to Zion was easy and direct. My flight arrived at just before 6 p.m. and I was at the park by 8, just in time for a quiet sunset drive along the canyon road to the lodge, and a late supper.

First off, I'd say that I didn't have enough time in the two national parks. I could easily have spent two more days in Zion and one more in Bryce -- but I am the type who likes to do things leisurely and explore in depth and try to see everything. I also fell in love with Zion, and felt that I could have stayed there forever.

Although I'd been tempted to stay outside of Zion at a lodge with a swimming pool, I was glad I decided on the Zion Lodge. It was cozy and comfortable and in a beautiful setting deep in the canyon along the river. The lawn in late afternoon had an idyllic feel with folks young and old sitting on the lawn and enjoying ice cream after a day of hiking, and young children running around and playing. The ice cream was a real treat which I felt I'd more than earned each afternoon after a long day of hiking.

There were several deer on the grounds in the mornings and evenings and an occasional wild turkey. Weather was perfect, with cool mornings and evenings and warm afternoons, and beautiful, ever changing light on the surrounding peaks.

I left the Narrows and Angels Landing to the more adventurous but on my first morning I did hike up the West Rim to Scout's Lookout that leads to Angels Landing. It was strenuous because of the steep climb, but the paved path made it easy enough to handle. The views along the way were stunning and at several places a welcome cool breeze could be felt. Although it is described as not for people with height issues, the path was wide enough, albeit very open, and I never felt afraid. It was a great hike.

Towards the end of the hike I enjoyed soaking my aching feet in the river before heading on to the shuttle bus to the Temple of Sinewava, and the much easier Riverside Path. A pair of rock climbers could be seen making their way up the vertical walls along the path.

The shuttle buses were easy and convenient to use and after my Riverside walk and my ice cream at Zion Lodge I took one to the Visitors Center for some information and shopping - 2014 calendars and souvenir books and CD's. Back on the shuttle to the Court of the Patriarchs and a brief walk along the canyon road before heading back to the lodge for dinner.

That evening after dinner there was an interesting ranger-led program on astronomy at the lodge, after which we went outside to look at the skies. I confess I always have difficulty trying to identify heavenly bodies but that doesn't stop me from trying.

On my second day, I hiked the lower, middle and upper Emerald Pools and returned along the Kayenta trail. I found the hike to the pools, especially the upper, to be more challenging than the West Rim because of the rocky, uneven terrain. It was also much more crowded.

At one point two hikers passed closely by me, causing me to lose my balance and reach out for support - and unfortunately my hand landed on a cactus. What seemed to be hundreds of needles got stuck in my fingers, but happily, I was able to pick them out with my fingernails and they came out pretty easily. I met some nice people along the way who offered a helping hand here and there. On the way back I must have looked very wilted and a nice man poured some cold water on my neck and back, which felt great.

After that I again took the shuttle to the Temple of Sinewava, refreshed my feet and legs in the running water near the small waterfall in the river and then decided to walk back along the canyon road. It was one of my favorite walks, with no human voices and only the sounds of the birds chirping and the running river -- and the trees along the road provided plenty of shade.

I walked as far as Weeping Rock and took the short hike up to the rock. It was lovely to sit under the dripping water and enjoy the beautiful vista out in front of it. Afterwards, I continued my walk along the canyon road back to Zion Lodge. Again, I really loved this walk along the road.

I had breakfast and dinner at the lodge each day and enjoyed it. On my last night it was warm enough to sit outside on the terrace. The food was good and I thought, reasonably priced.

On to Bryce next....

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