Zion National Park, UT: 85% Wilderness, 100% Awesome

Leaving Page, AZ, our next destination was Zion National Park on the southern edge of Utah.  Steep cliffs, narrow canyons, and a park that has remained over 85% wilderness (according to our expert source: the front of a t-shirt in the gift shop) had us excited to get to see this park up close and personal!

Sheer cliff drops of 3000 feet or more! People die while rappelling and hiking these mountains ALL THE TIME!

To enter the Park, one must go through the Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel, which having been built in the 1920’s when everything (dinner portions, Americans’ waistlines, sports stars’ egos) were smaller, cannot accommodate single lanes of larger vehicles.  So, RV’s require a special “ESCORT SERVICE.”  Philip was very excited to employ an escort service, until I explained it wasn’t that kind of an escort service.  Rather, we would pay a $15 fee that would cause the rangers to stop oncoming traffic so that we could drive right smack dab down the center of the road in the 1.1 mile long tunnel, ostensibly while humming the 1964’s classic Roger Miller song, “King of the Road.”

The Zion Canyon RV Campground is perfection, situated just outside the West entrance to the park.  This RV Park has a lot going for it, most notably its location right under the towering rocks of “The Watchman” mountain of Zion.

The other reason we learned to love this RV park was the huge, clean, bright laundry room.  Why oh why, you might ask, would we need a laundry room on the 3rd day of the trip?!!!  Well, if you must know, its importance was magnified when we discovered that a small dog (who shall remain nameless) had peed in our bed (Philip’s side — hmmm). WTH!

Lastly, our site is nestled up literally on the banks of the Virgin River, allowing lots of splashy play time with the puppy-girls.  See the Lucky Charm right there in the background on the right?

Zion is not particularly dog-friendly, and dogs are not generally allowed, well, anywhere, except for one sweet 3.5-mile paved trail with lots of beauty all around.  We imagined since it was the only pet- and bike-friendly trail in all of Zion, it would be a superhighway of activity.  Bikes zooming by!  Pets snarling and charging at each other! People sidestepping each other and glaring at those taking a slower pace!  Imagine our delight when we had practically the whole thing to ourselves.  We had just learned the most important lesson to avoiding crowds in national parks … go early!  Easy to do when you forget to close the miniblinds on the RV and the dogs therefore wake you up by jumping on the bed at the-crack-of-early.

This interesting formation is called “Checkerboard Mesa” — the horizontal lines were formed from wind and shifting sand, and the more vertical lines are caused by joint fracturing of the rock.  You have just learned 100% of our combined knowledge of geology.

Zion offers “Ride With A Ranger” Programs for a mere 30 people per day, but their Marketing Department must really suck, because literally nobody knows about this program so we were therefore able to secure a spot.  It was awesome to have a (very young) (very enthusiastic) ranger explain everything we could possibly want to know about Zion during a beautiful, private, two-hour ride through the Zion Canyon.  Free! Absolutely free!

There are tons of rental RV’s all around, and the CruiseAmerica brand has photos of charming small children, adorable pets, and perky senior citizens looking out the door window.  We loved them!  So cute!  So clever!  UNTIL …one of these rentals moved in to the site next door, and Sprinkles proceeded to growl and bark at the “intruder” until she grew hoarse and finally decided she had “won” since that other dog was obviously completely frozen in fear.

After Zion, we are headed to Jackson, WY and the Grand Tetons.  Check out Philip’s awesome mobile office!  He can work while I drive, with the added benefit that I can spot a Dairy Queen from two miles away.  It’s the perfect arrangement.  See you soon from Jackson Hole!

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