Thursday, March 8, 2012

Zion National Park, Part Two

We stopped at the Temple of Sinawava for the Riverside Trail. It is a large natural amphitheater with two rock formations which look like a pulpit and  lectern. It was amazing to me that there are trees sitting on top of many of the rocks formations in the park!
The Riverside Walk is a path with 2,000 foot-high canyon walls towering on both sides. Here the Virgin River is forced to slice down, creating a perpendicular gorge. We did not get to the end of the trail,  Zion Narrows, as that would have required walking upstream in the Virgin River. It was a beautiful hike along the river.
 To get to our next destination,the Canyon Overlook Trail, we needed to go through a tunnel which was 1.l miles long. Built in the 1920s it is not very large and has restrictions on large vehicles. Fortunately we were in our small car. I took a picture of the tunnel exit while standing above it on the trail. Yes, there is snow on the ground, we had been seeing that white stuff all day! Fortunately it was not on the roads or trails.
The Canyon Overlook Trail was the most challenging hike of all the trails which we had been on that day. The path is rocky and uneven with long drop-offs to the Pine River Canyon below. Fortunately most of it is fenced. At its' end is a spectacular view of Pine Canyon as well as the lower end of Zion Canyon.
After doing that trail we drove to the eastern rim of the park. The sun was starting to set and we thought that it was a perfect time to see some wildlife. In two different areas we saw bighorn sheep feeding close to the road. Unfortunately we did not get any good pictures of them. In this section of the park we saw different rock formations than we had seen earlier in the day. Through the years rain,wind, and temperature changes, as well as the Virgin River have been sculpting out her canyons, and will forever continue to do so. The sandstone here has been sculpted into large mesas with a swirl pattern in the rock. They reminded me of Dairy Queen ice cream cones. Most of the rock in the park is a deep red color- lesser amounts of the iron oxide color the rocks from light pink to white, as you can see in the picture below. My lasting impression of Zion Park will always be that of  towering canyon walls and colorful rock formations.

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