Utah 2010 Trip

Friday, October 15


We skipped shooting sunrise this morning. We've discovered that the schools have been out all week for teacher conferences, and we've been unable to make reservations at the RV park in Springdale where we planned to camp. We decided we'd better get an early start for Zion in case we had problems finding a campsite. Just after 8:00, Carol called Zion River RV Resort to see if we could get a reservation there. It isn't as convenient as the other one because it's 13 miles outside the park, but it's a beautiful RV park. They had room for us, so we could slow down and enjoy the morning. We had pancakes for breakfast and then got everything ready to go.

The drive from Bryce to Zion follows the Sevier River during most of the trip along Highway 89. The Sevier meanders through a grassland oasis. Like the section north of Bryce, ranchers have brought their cattle down from the higher elevations in the green pastures along the river.

I had heard all summer about the construction on the road that leads to the tunnel and then to the east entrance of Zion, but I thought it would be completed by now. It isn't, and it's a mess. The re-paved sections are smooth as glass, but they did nothing to widen the roadbed and provide any cushion between the road and the sandstone rock that borders the road. It's a bit narrow in several places for two larger vehicles to meet.

Then we had a first. We got to go down through the tunnel all by ourselves. It cost us $15, but it was pretty cool. The newer, larger motorhomes are too large to meet in the tunnel, so they block the tunnel off to let the motorhomes go through from one end or the other. It seemed a little strange to drive right down the middle of the road, but that's the only way we could be assured of not hitting the tunnel ceiling.

The area above the tunnel had a lot of construction work with most of the turnouts closed. The area below the tunnel was worse. They had removed the old pavement, but haven't started re-paving yet. It was a mess. There were always delays getting from the main canyon to the slickrock area that we liked to photograph, but now it must take an extra hour to get through the tunnel and construction. That may discourage us from shooting up where we saw all the bighorn sheep last year.

When we reached the canyon floor, we got another surprise. The shuttle was still running. Every parking place in Zion canyon was filled. The place was a zoo. Last year, we arrived just after the shuttle stopped running, so we could drive up the main canyon. Not this year. The shuttle may have solved some of the issues in the main canyon, but it created all kinds of issues in the rest of the park. We drove through Springdale toward our campground. The entire town was packed with people.

As we approached the campground, we could see the clouds streaming in from the west. Thunderstorms and showers are supposed to start on Sunday and last through next week. The clouds were great today for photography, but we couldn't figure out where to photograph. There was no hope of finding any parking in Zion, so that was out. In the end, we just stayed in camp. The toughest part is knowing that sunrise and sunset are going to be incredible in Bryce tomorrow. If we knew the situation in Zion, we would have stayed in Bryce until at least Sunday. Oh, well, we guessed wrong this time.

With the new circumstances, we have to decide whether we should just return home on Sunday. A week of storms and no easy access to the park, doesn't sound too promising.