“Mom, this is the best day ever,” my children exclaimed. And as I looked at their dirt covered hands and saucer eyes taking in every inch of Zion National Park’s magnificence, I knew they meant it.
It was a Friday and a school day but Zion was calling my name so I woke early, filled a backpack full of water and snacks and loaded my children in the car bound for paradise.
Living less than an hour’s drive from the park has its perks. Case in point: our impromptu trip to the land shaped by time and the elements, but even though it is close we don’t go as often as we should … I am working on a remedy for that.
I let my three kids who range in age from 4- to 9-years-old pick the itinerary:
Hike the Temple of Sinawava Trail
Drive the tunnel
As an avid hiker I have explored many parts of the park including Angel’s Landing, East Rim, The Subway, Fat Man’s Misery and The Narrows from top-to-bottom but nothing quite compares to the feeling of witnessing Zion through young eyes. It was almost like a vortex of time where I was simultaneously reminded of my own youthful explorations and watching as the canyon unfolded itself to future generations.
It took us nearly two hours to complete the approximately two-mile round trip trail that acts as the gateway to The Narrows accounting for every stop to climb a rock, look at the curve of the river and stomp in the puddles created by water seeping through the Navajo Sandstone cliffs.
The trail is rich in vegetation and riparian habitat that is delicate and there are several areas where going off trail is a no-no, not to worry there is plenty of fun to be had as you traverse the paved path. As we hiked along and I heard acclamations of joy at the sheer size of the cliffs, the narrowing canyon and the furry and overly friendly squirrels (no touchy-touchy) who make the canyon their home I knew that Zion was calling my childrens’ names too.
Our final tour of Zion led us up to the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel. Carved into the massive rocks in the 1920s and 30s, this impressive feat of engineering created during the great depression provided a link between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks.
There are “rumors” back in yonder year that people used to run the tunnel at night and as we drove through honking our horn and yelling out the window to hear our voices echo, we couldn’t help but imagine those who came before us running through the mile-long tunnel whooping and hollering just like us. An old friend and hiking guide used to say of our wanderings in the breathtaking canyon,“oh yes, this is the life.”
“oh yes, this is the life.”
Driving home from the canyon with three worn out kids covered in red dirt and smiles, I couldn’t help but agree with him. What a life. It really was the best day ever!