Zion National Park

Click on thumbnail above for enlarged panorama.

Zion Canyon overlook panorama

Click on the title or thumbnail above to download a 3-picture-wide panorama of the Zion Canyon overlook. The entryway to the park is a very narrow 1.1 mile long tunnel. The trail-head to the overlook starts just before the tunnel. Note that this JPEG image is very wide and you will have to scroll the page to see the entire picture.

"Your heros" at the Zion Canyon overlook. The view from this point is nothing less than magnificent. If you are agoraphobic or acrophobic, this spot will send you screaming! At the overlook, you can look straight down into the canyon for what seems a couple thousand feet (the overlook is on an overhang.)

After spending the morning sorting out telephone systems and uploading yesterdays images and notes, we made our way to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. Though most of the interpretive staff is seasonal, and the busy summer season is over and many are gone, we did find that a guided tour was to be given today. We set out to drive the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and arrive at the trailhead for the Riverside Walk in time for the tour.

On the way to the ranger's talk, we stopped to view three peaks in the "Court of the Patriarchs." They were named by a minister and his children as they were traveling the canyon and the names have remained to this day. The leftmost peak is not one of the "Court," but is called "Sentinal." From left to right the peaks are Sentinel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Click here or on the thumbnail to see an enlarged version of the panorama.

As the river cut through the sandstone to create Zion Canyon, many smaller tributaries, with less ability to cut a canyon, were 'left behind' on the plateau above. Today, as these river-flows try to join the North Fork of the Virgin River they are left hanging high above the floor of Zion Canyon. As the flows from these hanging rivers come down the sides of the canyon they bring with them the minerals that color the rock face in dark streaks. Some of the dark streaks come from the moss that has formed in these moist areas. The moss stays in a dormant state until new moisture will reawaken it.

This is 'The Pulpit' (1833 m / 4418 ft) at the Temple of the Sinawava at the end of the scenic drive.

It is here that we began our trek - walking to the river edge to explore for creatures, not great, but small. Hidden under rocks are the juvenile forms of the stone fly and may flys. Here you see Ranger Chris Leeser explaining how the numerous life-forms are an indication of the ecological health of the river. He also explained the connection of these lower life forms to the cycle of life in the canyon.

The land is a mix of different ecological types. From semi-arid dessert, to swamp, to life forms that attach themselves to the moisture laden walls of rock such as the Scarlet Monkey Flower you see here in the area known as the Hanging Garden.

At the end of our walk we came to end of the main trail. Here you may continue wading in and out of the river to go hiking up to 'The Narrows'. This also was the end of the trail for this days adventures.

Today we started with a short walk to the "Weeping Rock." This is an area where spring water leaks out of the cliff walls and cascades to the floor of the valley below (Sorry, no picture for now...) After a quick lunch, we started out on our afternoon guided hike to the White Mountains. Located on the eastern edge of the park these mountains are combinations of sandstone and limestone sedimentary layers. On this 4 mile hike we ascended through about 70 million years of rock including these layers of Navaho Sandstone.

Reaching the top of a mesa, we were treated to a beautiful panorama including Crazy-quilt and Checkerboard Mesa. Note that you can click on the thumbnail to get the full JPEG image. On the way down the ranger said that he wanted to try a "shortcut." We followed not aware that his shortcut was almost STRAIGHT DOWN. It was an adventurous off-trail trip that acutally cut 45 minutes off the return trip! (Guess it was worth it after all...)

On the way back from the afternoon hike we stopped briefly at Checkerboard Mesa for a closer look. This sedimentary formation has horizontal stripes as one would expect, but is also crossed by vertical cracks widened by erosion.

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