It’s now been over a month since I completed my first visit to Zion National Park. It feels almost a whole other world away now as Millie and I are currently enjoying our second winter in Mexico exploring the Baja peninsula. But whenever I come across a decent WiFi connection here, I’ll keep trying to catch the blog up as quickly as I can!
Even after 2 full weeks in Zion, I felt like I had just barely scratched the surface. Certainly, some of the “unofficial” hikes revealed a Zion that few tourists often get to see, but photographically speaking, I didn’t make it very far beyond the classic Zion scenes that, no doubt, many thousands of other tourists photograph each year as well.
So for those of you familiar with Zion and these scenes, forgive the repetition of same old-same old. For others who have not yet experienced Zion for yourself, I hope these images give you a good taste of what this fabulous park has to offer!
Perhaps the most common scene is from the Canyon Junction bridge looking down the Virgin river as The Watchman looms in the background. I first photographed this scene with about 20 other photographers—all of us standing along the bridge with our tripods vying for the best vantage point.
I don’t know why I kept coming back to this bridge again and again, trying to improve on such an overdone scene, but like moths drawn to a flame, there I was with the rest of the herd. Here’s the same image about a week later--
Further upstream at the very start of Zion canyon, the Virgin river comes out of the Narrows to flow beside the Riverside Walk, a 2-1/4 mile round trip trail that connects the Narrows to the furthest shuttle bus stop at the Temple of Sinawava.
Seeing that my very first day at Zion was cloudy and rainy (and the forecast called for sunny, clear skies the rest of the week), I knew this Riverside Walk had to be my first photo destination.
It was still a bit too early for peak fall foliage, but as I’m always a sucker for emerald running water and sandstone, I was happy to slowly work my way up the river, camera shutter clicking wildly away!
Does a wild river get any more beautiful than this?
I wanted to sit and drink up this scene for hours, but alas, other photographers were waiting to put their tripods into the same spots that mine had occupied.
As I returned to the catch my shuttle bus ride, I noticed a group of photographers with long telephoto lenses. What were they all photographing? Just this handsome young mule deer buck who was casually eating his dinner and sauntering along the river!
One afternoon, I took a drive up through the tunnel to the high slickrock on the east side of the park. Checkerboard Mesa displays this topography nicely. I also discovered a small, completely full parking lot just beyond the tunnel that I wanted to return to.
On my final day to Zion, I made it back to that parking lot to hike the Canyon Overlook Trail. If you should only hike one trail in Zion, this short, scenic trail is it!
Its small canyons and overhangs could hardly prepare me for the sight awaiting me at the end of the trail—the spectacular viewpoint of the central section of Zion canyon.
Even though a hand full of other tourists were clicking away at this scene, I still could not help myself from taking dozens of shots of it myself.
What a lasting farewell to this glorious canyon!