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Zion/Bryce/Grand Canyon Trip

Day 1 of 7

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Saturday, May 16th
Fly to Las Vegas, Drive to Zion, Taylor Creek hike

Early Saturday morning, we flew into Las Vegas and picked up our rental car -- a Mercury Grand Marqui. Useful information: a Mercury Grand Marqui (premium car category) is just big enough to carry luggage for 4 campers for a week (we each had our filled packs plus another bag for clean clothes, etc.). After some creative trunk stuffing, we were on Interstate 15, headed North toward Zion. One thing I noticed was the fair number of cyclists heading north on I-15. I was a bit surprised since I didn't think there was much along the way. Some of them may have been making the trip from Las Vegas to Zion, but some weren't carrying any baggage, implying they were simply riding a busy interstate for the fun of it. I guess there's not much good riding in Vegas!

We gained an hour driving to Utah, since Utah is in the Mountain Time Zone. Note, times can be a bit confusing in this area. If it's 3pm in California during Daylight Savings Time, it's also 3pm in Nevada and Arizona, but 4pm in Utah. However, if it's 3pm in California during Standard Time, it's also 3pm in Nevada, but 4pm in Arizona and Utah. Got it? Arizona doesn't recognize Daylight Savings Time.

Well, we arrived at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center of Zion National Park around lunch time. First mistake: I had mistakenly thought we'd be able to get lunch there. No such luck. Just a small visitor center with no food for miles. But we had energy bars and I had a six-pack of bagels, so we were okay for a while.

Our first shock: the person at the visitor center said that the West Rim trail near Lava Point and Wildcat Canyon Trail were closed due to snow, and that we couldn't hike it. That was an integral part of the hike I had planned for Sunday/Monday/Tuesday. No one had mentioned snow when I had called earlier -- in fact, I had arranged to take a shuttle Sunday morning and they happily said they'd take me there! Needless to say, I was a bit upset. I was also a bit wary, however, as the guy at the visitor center didn't seem to have a good attitude (wasn't being very helpful), and I wondered if he knew what he was talking about. We decided we'd worry about it later and set off on our original plan for Saturday, though.

We first made the drive to the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint, just 5 or 10 miles down the road from the visitor center. There, we had great views of the Finger Canyons of the Kolob. This area of the park is very different from the rest of Zion. It's very red, I'd say less varied, and has a lot fewer visitors.

View from the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint

We did pass some backpackers who were headed off on the La Verkin Creek Trail, which visits the Kolob Arch (the world's largest freestanding arch. That was one alternative to our West Rim hike.

After taking in the sights, we backtracked to the trailhead for our first hike -- the middle fork of Taylor Creek, which would take us to Double Arch Alcove.

After the hike, we made the hour drive to Springdale, the city at the entrance to Zion. We stayed at the Driftwood Lodge. Despite the AAA book, they're no longer a Best Western, but they're pretty nice, with a nice view and the Virgin River surging past just a couple hundred feet away.

We ate at Switchback (1149 S. Zion Park Blvd., Springdale, UT 84767, 801-772-3777) -- as Joe would say, a restaurant. Decent food at expensive prices. Afterwards, we started packing for our backpacking trip. We were still going on the assumption that we could do the hike we wanted, and would change it if the rangers at the main visitor center said we couldn't.

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