Return to Zion

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Even though I haven’t spent very much time in Zion National Park, I have always wanted to visit the park during the fall season at the beginning of November. Earlier this year I decided to finally make that trip happen. Diane and I took the Monday before Veteran’s Day off from work so we could make it a nice long 4-day weekend and we booked a hotel room in Springdale so we wouldn’t be camping this time.

We left home early on Saturday morning and drove across the state of Utah to reach Springdale just outside the entrance to Zion. The little town was packed with people and there were cars parked everywhere in town. I knew the shuttle buses were still running on the weekends in November, but I really didn’t think the park would be quite as busy this time of the year. My last and only visit to Zion was in March a few years ago when they weren’t running the shuttles and there weren’t many people there. We found a place to park in town and then walked into the park so that we could pick up our permits to The Subway for the following day at the Wilderness Desk.

Since I really didn’t want to deal with the shuttle buses in the main canyon, we took the Mount Carmel Highway through the east side of the park hoping to avoid people. Unfortunately, the road was packed with cars and many of the pullouts along the way were full, too. I wanted to hike into Petroglyph Canyon this afternoon and luckily we were able to find a parking spot near the trailhead. After parking we started the short hike to the petroglyph panel which we easily found. We didn’t want to deal with anymore traffic or people so we decided to continue exploring and hiking into the slickrock area above the petroglyphs and climbed up to a saddle above.

The remaining fall colors in Petroglyph Canyon.

15795807981_3db60d78a9_z.jpg
Canyon Hike by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were a few nice petroglyphs here.

15769891585_b58904fc35_z.jpg
Petroglyph Canyon by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15777871912_630b8181f5_z.jpg
Backpackers by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Hiking the sandstone area above the petroglyphs.

15156876093_cf1c5c3d9d_z.jpg
Sandstone Exploring by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After exploring the area around Petroglyph Canyon and returning to our vehicle we noticed that the amount of traffic on the road had thinned a bit, so we stopped at the famous small tree that is growing out of the top of a sandstone dome and hung out there for a while as the sun sunk lowing in the sky. I’m actually surprised that no one else stopped by while we were there.

I had Diane climb up onto this rock to give the photo a little scale.

15591481930_34d6001ab9_z.jpg
On A Rock by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Zion’s famous tree…

15769983455_8061062a10_z.jpg
Famous Tree by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15612707650_db84d004fa_z.jpg
The Tree by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15799184532_2033905490_z.jpg
Checkerboard Mountain by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We started to drive back to Springdale shortly before sunset so we could check into our hotel, but we were stopped at the tunnel waiting for a large RV to get through. Instead of waiting in traffic we found a place to park and hiked the Canyon Overlook trail instead.

A view from the Canyon Overlook.

15612412177_faee2902cc_z.jpg
Canyon Overlook by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Nice warm light on The East Temple above the trail.

15746321126_e7d43fe0c3_z.jpg
Sunset Light Above by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After the short hike, we drove down through the tunnel and caught the end of a nice sunset along the road near the park’s entrance. I managed to find a spot to pull over for a few quick shots.

15584524078_4fba2b7edb_z.jpg
Roadside Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

15178210783_7e6bdc8686_z.jpg
Watchman Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After checking into our hotel and having some pizza for dinner we returned to the park in the dark hoping to avoid people and so we could watch the almost full moon rise and light up the Towers of the Virgin and the Court of the Patriarchs.

The Towers of the Virgin in moonlight.

15795637851_11ce53be35_z.jpg
Moonlit Towers of the Virgin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The moon lights up the Court of the Patriarchs over the Virgin River. It’s hard to tell in this small photo, but there is light from a headlamp near the top of the peak in the middle. We watched the light move as a few climbers descended down from the top in the dark.

15612318028_9b7d425083_z.jpg
Court of the Patriarchs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After returning to our hotel we went to bed early so we could get an early start hiking into the Left Fork of North Creek to The Subway the following morning.

>> Return to Zion Photo Gallery


2 Comments

  1. Jennifer November 20, 2014 4:34 pm  Reply

    I went to Zion last Thanksgiving weekend thinking it would be empty…it was packed! We managed to sneak in Angels Landing early one morning while it was still quiet, and then spent the rest of the weekend hiking off-the-beaten-path hikes. Was able to find lots of solitude avoiding the well known attractions. Very cool that you got those great full moon views.

  2. Michael Hubrich November 21, 2014 2:09 am  Reply

    Oh, I have never heard about Petroglyph Canyon in Zion. Interesting.´Thx for the fantastic moon lighted walls. I am looking forward for your subway trip. have done it in 2009 and want do do it on time from the top. have a nice weekende.
    “Glückauf” (a German wish from coalminers that means “Come out of the mine again with good luck.” from Germany. Michael

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *