Thursday, February 16, 2017

Zion National Park Scenic Drive



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!










26 comments:

  1. I remember these views even though I visited many years ago. Zion was my first taste of the West famous landscapes (I visited like 6 months after moving to California). I was amazed at how the formations, river and mountains. #TPThursday

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    1. Beautiful landscapes and I agree, it is interesting to see how the canyon was formed. Thanks for visiting, Ruth!

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  2. LOVED Zion park, even more than Bryce Canon, but ... it was so hot there (even for a Californian). The white alternating with the red is mesmerizing. I managed to make two plein air oil paintings, but would love to come back when it's less hot!

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    1. I, also, loved Zion- and even more so than Bryce but I'm not sure I gave Bryce a fair shake as we didn't have as much time there. Would love to go back and do Bryce properly. And we were lucky with the weather - we wore sweatshirts in May as it was still a little cool. We even had snow flurries at Bryce! Crazy, right? Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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  3. We really wanted to visit Zion last year... However our schedule was so packed that we didn't make it! But your photos make me wanna visit US once again :-)

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    1. I hope you make it back to the US and to Zion - it's definitely worth a visit!

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  4. I have never been to Zions even though I lived in Utah for two years. I'd love to go one day if I make it back for a visit. #weekendwanderlust

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    1. Hope you make it to Zion if you make it back to Utah! Thanks for visiting!

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  5. Great pictures. Looks like somewhere I really have to visit.

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    1. Thank you. And thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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  6. Jill, As always your road trips are so inspiring. I can't wait to do more in Utah; it's such a gorgeous state, isn't it/

    Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration! See you again next week!

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    1. It really is gorgeous! I had a friend who did a multi-state road trip a few years back and when I asked him which state was his favorite he answered "Utah" and I was so surprised. Until I went there myself and I understood! Thanks for visiting, Corinne!

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  7. Great information on the Zion National Park Scenic Drive along with stunning photos. It has been many years since I have been and after seeing your article I am ready to go back. Thanks for sharing :-) #weekendwanderlust

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    1. Thanks! And thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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  8. We're contemplating a Utah trip next summer. Stunning scenery!

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    1. Hope you get to go next summer - it really is stunning!

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  9. Zion and the Mighty 5 are on my bucket list. Your photos show an amazing drive.

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    1. Thanks Rhonda - and thanks for visiting!

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  10. We're thinking of seeing zion this spring so this is helpful. I'll make sure to schedule 2-3 days for it. Thanks!

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    1. Hope you get to go - it's beautiful! Thanks for visiting!

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  11. Such a unique and beautiful place! Great hiking, too.

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    1. It really is unique and beautiful! Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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  12. I like the photos at the end with the people in it. They really give me a sense of scale of how massive these landscapes are. I've been wanting to visit Zion for a while now, and your photos are just making me wish for it even more.

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    1. I hope you get there - it's worth a visit in my book! Thanks for visiting, Michele!

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  13. You had fantastic weather at Zion! This really is one of the best parks in the country. It really needs to be seen in person to fully appreciate the size of these rocks. We've visited during winter and Spring and loved it both times.

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    1. I would love to go in winter! And I agree - it's definitely one of the best parks in the country! Thanks for visiting, Mary!

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