Grand Circle Road Trip: Day 2
We started day 2 with a hotel breakfast and a spectacular mountain view.
Zion National Park is a very protected park. You can only drive on one road through it and shuttles are required to reach most of the park. Though we were not visiting during peak season, we were unable to get shuttle tickets because this place is so busy. With our hiking options limited, we took a shuttle from our hotel to the visitors center.
We decided on Watchman's Trail, an intermediate hike that could be completed in a few hours. The path was just beyond the visitors center and easy to follow.
The unique walkways along the trail made for some great photo ops.
Around every turn was a new exciting thing to see. The mountains are so steep and tall that a lot of Zion's beauty are hidden within them.
We didn't make it all the way to the top but we had an amazing time on the trail. The peak pictured in the background of the photo above is the end of the Watchman trail. Maybe one day we'll be back to make it to the top.
Our hiking boots were officially dirty and we were just getting started.
Zion's mountains grow and rise, even as you ascend through the park. It's like you have to move your head to see everything in a 360 degree view because it's just so amazing.
We stopped a few times along the zig zagging Mt. Caramel highway to take it all in.
Entering the Mt. Carmel tunnel was a whole other experience. We were on top of the mountains looking out the window to what seemed like thousands of feet below and then it all went black. The tunnel only has a few open windows so it's very dark, and on the other side is a whole other world.
The landscape changed and got much flatter with rough brittle rocks and tall trees. We stopped to explore and walk around Keyhole Canyon.
Not much further down the road our first snow sighting came out of nowhere. In the middle of March we didn't expect to see snow, but at 7,000 feet it was definitely a possibility. Snowball fight on the Checkerboard Mesa? Yes please, but it was also at this moment that I wondered if sleeping in a covered wagon was a good idea...
Our home for the night was this covered wagon at the Ponderosa Ranch Resort. Inside this wagon is a complete set-up with 2 bunk beds, a king bed, fridge and 2 space heaters that we would be very glad to have in a few hours because the winds were picking up. We got army style blankets from the resort office and braved the cold to get the full Zion experience. Let me tell you, it was worth it. We didn't get much sleep, but Bryce Canyon was up next on the agenda and we were ready!
Up Next: Day 3