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June 16, 2018 / annakpf11

Riparian Refuge

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”—John Muir

DAYS FOUR & FIVE: June 7 & 8: Zion

It is not yet 6:30 AM when we pull into a parking space in the empty parking lot at the entrance to Zion national park. We were told to get here early, before the lot filled up, but perhaps we overdid it.


With Suzy’s spot secured, we focus on breakfast, conveniently at hand about an arm’s length away. Meanwhile, as if a faucet has been turned on, pedestrians, cyclists, cars and RV’s begin pouring into the park. Perhaps we didn’t arrive too early after all. We finish our meal, leave the unwashed dishes in the sink, fill a daypack with water bottles, cameras, snacks and sunscreen, and set off on foot to the shuttle bus stop. Where we join an already lengthy queue.


Following advice gleaned from fellow campers, we board the shuttle and ride all the way to the end of the line. From here, it’s possible to wade upstream to the Narrows, where the canyon’s red rock walls taper to only twenty feet apart, and soar a thousand feet overhead.

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We opt to walk the path along the Virgin River, and gaze in wonder at impossibly sheer rock walls the color of persimmons and rubies. We did not expect to find such grandeur here.


“This place is like Yosemite,” observes Dave, “only smaller, with red rock instead of granite, and without the falls.”

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For generations, this stunning gorge was a seasonal camping ground for the Paiute Indians. They called it Mukuntuweap, which translates as straight canyon, or straight arrow.

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When Mormon settlers took over the area in the 1850s, they gave it a biblical name, Zion, denoting sanctuary, or place of refuge.

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We find the place uplifting, in the same way a visit to Yosemite National Park elevates our spirits. I spot a red-breasted nuthatch, creeping up the bark of a pine tree, and glimpse countless birds flitting through the landscape. Do they migrate here every year, I wonder? Or do some species live year ’round in this magical canyon? Some enchanted lifetime that would be.

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Hours later, an unforgettable walk in the canyon ends at the Zion Lodge, where we refill our water bottles and relax into rocking chairs, temptingly placed on the hotel’s shady veranda. Soon it will be too hot to remain outdoors. But now we are content to sit awhile, savoring a last view of Zion, and contemplating our plans for the afternoon.


We decide to ride a shuttle down the mountain, drive to the RV park, plug into shore power and turn on the AC. It is the only livable option.

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By late afternoon, stepping outside is like walking into a pizza oven. I am tempted to cool off in the swimming pool, until I see it is a mosh pit of bobbing heads and thrashing limbs. Never mind. Suzy is our sanctuary.

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Note to selves (and any potential visitors to Zion who might be reading this): Our campground for two nights, the Zion River Resort RV Park and Campground, is probably a great place for families, but it provides far more amenities than we need or use.


If we return to Zion, we’ll come in April or October, and we’ll stay in the town of Springdale, at the Zion Canyon Campground and RV Park, offering the necessities without the frills, and within walking distance to the entrance of Zion National Park.




Leave a Comment
  1. Jane Kent / Jun 16 2018 6:39 am

    Feeling very small insignificant and humbled
    by the sheer enormity volume and rich colour
    of the Canyon !
    Mother took the Greyhound bus around the same area 1970s and left us a delightful exercise book of all her thoughts / feelings etc :
    Wonderful to see the pics with your journal . !!
    and a much fuller resume !!
    So important to travel the true breadth and depth of the land you were born into .
    Totally understand the need and enjoyment . Xx

  2. Krin / Jun 16 2018 3:16 pm

    Loving reading about your travels! Living the authentic life!!!

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