Zion National Park, located in Springdale, Utah, is one of the Mighty Five - five national parks located in Utah. I've written about our day HERE before - we took the shuttle bus through the canyon, my son and his girlfriend hiked some of The Narrows and we visited the lodge. But I omitted the scenic drive at Zion, which to me, warranted it's own separate post.
This must-do scenic drive is a six-and-a-half-mile-long scenic stretch of road which parallels the Virgin River on the floor of Zion Canyon. It provides stunning views with the red rock towers looming some 2000 feet above you. Talk about feeling small!
First things first - You must pay a fee to enter Zion National Park, even to drive the scenic drive. And oversize vehicles and rv's must pay an extra fee to drive through the canyon's tunnel - when the tunnel was built in the 1920's, cars were much smaller and no one anticipated such large vehicles going through it. So you must arrange an escort through it in advance if your vehicle is too large to fit so traffic can be stopped for you to get through the tunnel. (Check at the visitor center or lodge for oversize vehicle info) We did the drive as a loop - passing through the park's mile long tunnel, cutting through the Checkerboard Mesa area and when it ended at Highway 89 at Mt. Carmel Junction, we turned around and drove back. It was about a 10 mile stretch total and we were able to pull off the road for a better view and for some photo opportunities. Please be aware that this is a switchback road and drivers like to gawk at the scenery - sometimes stopping in the middle of the road.(And when you drive through the tunnel watch for the windows that you can look through so you don't miss any scenery!)
Over time, erosion by wind and rain and freezing and thawing created horizontal and vertical cracks in the sandstone which has created a checkerboard effect. You can see this at the Checkerboard Mesa pull off along Highway 9.
If you visit Zion, I hope you don't miss this drive. We managed to visit the Canyon and make the drive all in one day. I hope, also, that you have more time than we did - but I'm happy that we had the time we did. I've said before that Zion ranks as one of my favorite US National Parks. And I'd go back again anytime!
This blog is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party!