We headed away from Slot Canyon Inn early, so we could get a full day in at Zion. This was one park Jenn hadn’t researched thoroughly, mostly because she was running out of steam PLANNING our odyssey, even before we embarked upon it.
So we left our little slice of heaven B&B (where horses grazed the morning before there were now sheep), and headed west to Zion. The trip through western Utah is a bit like a wild west theme park with Mormons. We feel a bit like fish out of water out here, but we try to focus on the humanity of those we meet. And we struggle mightily to avoid anything that might even drift toward politics. But we digress.
We entered the park from the east, which for anyone coming here is an absolute must. You drive in and are almost immediately treated to a “bottom up” view of a canyon, a vantage point we had not had yet on the trip. Let me tell you, riding on a canyon floor and looking up at something that is as tall as a skyscraper and sheer rock is something to behold. We drove through a 1.1 mile tunnel that had been blasted through one side of the canyon, then came down to a fork in the road in which there was only one way to go… out of Zion National Park.
After a very confused few minutes, we learned that most of the park is only accessible by riding a shuttle bus that stops at key trailheads. With this news, Jenn was rendered officially OUT OF SORTS, but she wasn’t going to miss Zion, so we boarded a bus that has a recorded narration of what you see out the window. Unfortunately for us, a very large family (who’s 2-year-old escaped and nearly hurtled off the bus at one point) sat behind us and talked incessantly about shopping, until we got off the bus at the first trailhead just to be able to get educated in peace.
Jenn had planned for us to hike one of the short trails at the third bus stop, but after disembarking twice, she had to come clean; and this is where vacation meets a lifetime in a body that doesn’t work like others’ do. This is where it is time to tell the truth that sometimes, when things are harder, they become too hard, and even Jenn has to … give … up.
Jenn had to tell Chris that she had no more on-and-off the buses left. It was physically hard, emotionally hard, and a bit of a freak show to do it over and over, so with Chris’s understanding, we rode the bus the rest of the way. Jenn still feels cheated and plans to write a very respectful letter to the National Park Service about how “accessible” means different things to different people with disabilities, and that she has some ideas about how to keep the park from being overrun while letting the people who need to, to use the transportation that works for them.
Meanwhile, though, never to wave the white flag of surrender fully, we found a road just on the western boundary of the park that gave us incredible views of the canyon rock in the distance, a plateau that had been driven upward by geologic forces, thereby magnifying the depth of the canyon to the east and the impact of the river below. It was a super cool detour, in which we saw a llama and a really fun way to stick it to the “man.” We spent the night in Springdale, ate good food, and we looked forward to getting the heck out of Dodge.
The drive along Kolob Terrace Road behind Zion….