A Drive-by Visit to Zion National Park

We stopped at Zion National Park on a late September drive from San Francisco to Estes Park, CO. Unfortunately, we booked late and could not find a satisfactory hotel room within 50 miles of the park. Instead of back-country hiking, we settled for a drizzly stroll above Kolob Canyons and the scenic drive on Utah State Route 9.

We began the day motoring south through the desert from Ely, NV, beneath threatening skies. We took a short break to admire the badlands at Cathedral Gorge State Park. The scenery was nice, but merely an appetizer for what we found at Zion.

A steady drizzle greeted us at Kolob Canyons. The ruddy mountain peaks girdled by desert greenery were stunning. And yet, the damp and the heavy foot traffic on the Timber Creek Overlook Trail undercut the thrill.

The rain lifted by the time we reached Zion National Park’s main entrance and headed east through the park on Utah State Route 9. The 54-mile scene drive was busy but manageable. We took full advantage of many opportunities to stop and admire the multi-hued and many textured landscape that is Zion.

The drive through Red Canyon on the way to our hotel in Escalante, UT, gave us a preview of what we would see the next day at Bryce Canyon National Park. It also offered a glimpse of the Red Canyon Bicycle Trail, which parallels Highway 12. Dan wished he’d brought his bicycle.

In September 2021 we drove from our home Coastside on the San Francisco Peninsula to Rocky Mountain National Park via southern Utah. It was our first trip off of the the West Coast since the pandemic reached the United States in January 2020.

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