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  • Lyndell Daniel

Zion National Park, Utah

The American road trip - stunning landscapes, scenery that we had never experienced before and places that were unforgettable, unbelievable and breathtakingly beautiful. As we entered the Valley of Fire State Park, we saw our first red rocks and what an amazing sight, with so many more to follow. However, before we could experience these natural wonders, we had to make our way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and what better way than to fly.

Dim the lights, "come fly with me" and experience one of the most hilarious flights I've ever been on. Bound for Las Vegas with Delta airlines we were confronted with purple lights, dimmed interior and the most lively and comical flight attendant. I almost expected to see slot machines on the plane, but that had to wait until we entered the airport; and yes we lost our ten dollars very quickly. We did finally manage to find our way out of Las Vegas after picking up our car and spending two hours trying to find supplies for the road trip. Though, I blame that on a husband who obviously does not know how to google "supermarket".

This was our first encounter with the red rocks of Nevada as we arrived at the Valley of Fire State Park. It is Nevada's oldest state park and world-renowned for its 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops nestled in gray and tan limestone. The Valley of Fire State Park contains ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. Located just one hour from Las Vegas, it's a colorful spot filled with panoramic vistas, hiking trails, petroglyphs, and stunning red and pink rock formations.

As we approached Zion National Park, the mountains emanated with red and brown colours as the light danced around the overpowering mountain tops.

The mountains surround you as you approach Zion National Park, with the contrasting colours creating such majestical and stunning backdrops to the rich blue skies.

We arrived in Zion later than expected, but only due to the many stops along the way. After much research, I had chosen Desert Pearl Inn as our accomodation for the next couple of days. I could not have been happier with the accomodation, a brilliant location, with reasonably priced and spacious rooms. As we arrived late, we opted to eat dinner at Moki, the restaurant adjacent to Desert Pearl Inn. The food was superb and we ended up eating breakfast there both mornings.

We stayed in the Premium King Riverside room and had wonderful views of the mountains and river from our back porch.

Our early morning visitor who came to join us for breakfast. This is when you need your camera close-by and ready, but unfortunately it wasn't, so a quick iPhone snap.

We caught the free shuttle from the front of our accomodation to the Visitor Centre, where you can purchase your park entry permit. Our yearly National Park permit enabled us entry to the many parks that we would be stopping at, including Zion National Park. There are so many more hikes and places to see in Zion National Park than I had imagined, but we only had limited time here and found it difficult to decide which ones to do.This photo was taken as we crossed the bridge on our way up to Angels Landing. My only regret upon leaving Zion National Park, is that we didn't have longer to explore the many hidden treasures. The Narrows, which I believe is absolutely breathtaking, was one place we had wanted to see, but just couldn't fit it in. We would return to Zion National Park in a flash.

It was very hot and the hike up to Angels Landing was continuous but not overly difficult. The views were stunning, with this photo taken about a quarter of the way up.

The climb continues and the views outweigh any reservations you may have about continuing.

We had finally made the top and what a magical spot to sit and have lunch. This tiny little chipmunk was intent on sharing lunch with us.

Such amazing views and once at the top, try and take the rope access to the very top. This is where the rope access starts. To Scouts lookout is 305m vertical incline. To Angels Landing it is another 150m incline. All together it is a 8km round trip.

This is the view back from the finish of the rope that takes you across the top.

Towards the top you reach the Walters Wiggles switchbacks (64 in total), so on our way back down, I wanted to take a photo to try and show the steep incline.

We were lucky enough to witness the stunning Autumn colours.

And the long trek back down continues.

The next day we hired bikes and took the shuttle to the Temple of Shinawava.

Whilst we didn't have time to complete The Narrows we wanted to at least walk to the entrance. This is "The Riverwalk", the path taking you to The Narrows. If you look closely, you can see the people on the path (the red shirt near the waters edge). This helps you understand the magnitude of the surrounding mountains.

One of our encounters along Grotto Walk - a long eared mule deer.

The Emerald Pools were named for their unusual colour. I read that at some times of the year, algae gives the water in the pools a distinctive hue.

The walk to Weeping Rock with a beautiful display of Autumn leaves and the intense blue skies surrounding the red hues of the towering mountains.

The entrance to Weeping Rock.

A unique view of the Great White Throne can be seen when standing behind the dripping water and looking out at the end of the Weeping Rock walk. Throughout the short walk you will encounter lush hanging gardens that are continually moist due to a constant water flow from the canyons above.

It was time to leave Zion National Park and make our way to Bryce Canyon. On the way out, a must stop is Canyon Overlook, where you can take the one-mile hiking trail which starts just outside the east entrance to the Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel, and leads to a dramatic observation point that provides impressive views of Zion's rugged landscape.

This was a fabulous hike, up hill steeply at the commencement and also over rough rock and huge drop offs on the side.

The Canyon Overlook Trail is a gem of a hike in Zion National Park. It’s short, it’s fun, and it takes you to an awesome viewpoint overlooking Zion Canyon.

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