They say that the journey is the more important than the destination, and that was never more true than with our trip to Zion.
We bolted out of Bryce late in the afternoon, wanting to make sure we could find and settle in to the free, BLM-land camping spot just east of Zion that we’d picked out on the map. The drive should only have been an hour and a half, but we were getting used to the fact that things were habitually taking longer than planned.
In this case, the trip was extended by a few interesting stops along the way: the first was Red Hollow, a short little hike up a sandy wash up into a narrow slot canyon. Navigating the rocks here was a fun body puzzle: in places the bottom of the canyon narrowed too much to stand, so you had to press yourself against the walls and shimmy to make headway. Other spots called for belly-wriggling and, at one point, hand-over-hand rope climbing.
Zevin obliged by filming this short video demonstrating the intricacies of the canyon:
From there, we poked around a junk antique store along 89 before heading east towards Zion. Knowing it would be crowded, though, we stopped just shy on a bit of land we found on freecampsites.net and rested. Zev and I took a scramble through the brushy terrain and sat watching lightning strikes to our east. Blissful quiet.
I’d been to Zion years ago, and people rave about it: it’s supposed to be a gorgeous park. The problem is: everybody knows it’s a gorgeous park, and it’s just not that big (or at least, the roads aren’t.) As a result, the only way to explore most of the park is to wait for an hour or two in a line to take a shuttle to one of the heavily trafficked trails where the shuttle stops.
That’s not our speed on a good day, and we were feeling jaded by “beautiful red rock canyons” at this point in our trip, so we decided to exit Zion the way we had come and start making our way towards the Grand Canyon.
Zevin and I did get one good hike in before we left, though, just pulling off into one of the turnouts and exploring the slick rock around. He and I have a long-running make believe game we play (“Sockmonster and Zubin”), and we took advantage of the fantasy-inspiring landscape to invent an episode for our characters (Crow had stolen the source of all water from the land through the cave, and only a tense negotiation with Flixie the Firefly and some in industrious climbing by our heroes was able to make things right again) while scurrying up through the crags and mounts.
Otherwise, though, all the glories of Zion were denied us: we left the RV’s and tour busses and headed back out on the open road.