Zion National Park: Where Beauty Abounds
It was a wet morning as my wife and departed our hotel. On the drive up to Zion National I kept thinking, jeez, I almost left my waterproof jacket at home. I live in CA, and for the past several years we haven’t had much rain. I was tempted to omit my jacket, but I have learned a valuable lesson visiting San Francisco so frequently. No matter what the weather is like where you are right that moment, take your jacket. You don’t have to wear it if you don’t need it, but when you need it, you’re gonna be real happy you have it.
Entering Zion National
The line to get into the park was very long and slow moving. I was there on not only a weekday but also a wet weekday. I was kind of surprised by just how slowly we were moving. After about 45 minutes in line, we finally got in. I was so excited to see it for the first time and it truly did not disappoint. Your first gaze into the park is from up high. You make your way down a switchback into the valley floor. I was surrounded by large red mountains, the sky was dark with murky storm clouds. I had to get out and take my first few photos.
I pulled into a large paved area and got my gear out to snap some photos just inside the park. Everywhere I turned I saw beauty. I wished that I could take a week and travel slowly through the park soaking everything up, but our trip was only going to be a day long.
We pulled into the visitor center that is situated at the bottom of the rugged valley. You can tell that a lot of thought went into the design of the visitor center. It was built to blend in with its surroundings and mimic the jagged peaks that enclose it. It boasts a plethora of eco-friendly innovations from the cooling towers to the use of solar among other things. You can read about those systems and more here https://greenpassivesolar.com/2010/04/zion-national-park-visitor-center/ it is quite an educational read.
From the Visitor Center, you need to take a bus in order to explore the rest of the park. Unless you paid for the hotel/camping which you would have to drive to. We had to leave our car at the V.C. and hop on a bus. They come about every 5-7 minutes. We went all the way to last stop first. It took about 45 minutes. The last stop includes some of the best walks the park has to offer. You can visit the Narrows, which is a walk through the middle of a waist high river with huge rock faces surrounding you, and is one of the main attractions at the park. Unfortunately due to the rain it was unsafe in the Narrows. A flash flood could come and in minutes we would be in over our heads. The park is very mindful of flash floods, and there are signs posted everywhere about them and their dangers. The Narrows would have to wait for another time. We decided to see another of the larger attractions in the park, the River Walk. With it being so wet it was difficult getting the shots I wanted. I have a water sealed camera, and I wasn’t concerned too much about damaging it, the bigger problem is keeping the glass on the front of your lens dry. Little raindrops show up quite well in photos and they can ruin an image. The problem with wiping the lens is that it added smears and smudges so it was a lose/lose situation. My best bet was to minimize its exposure to the rain. The first bend we came to on the walk was this shot below.
This shot is only possible with a tripod and a neutral density filter. The ND filter cut all light by 90% essentially slowing down my shutter speed, in order to smooth out the water. I was shooting this at around 3 seconds. This inevitably means I need a solid support system in place, so my tripod was an absolute must.
After a mile or so we eventually came to an outcrop of rocks so we utilized the shelter to take a short break before heading back. I took the opportunity to get my gear out and dry it as much as I could. I set up my tripod to do a shot out of the rain for once. I was in no hurry to get back into the rain, so I lingered with this shot.
The trip back always affords you a different perspective. It is good to keep your eyes open because on of the first sights I saw I knew I wanted an image.
The misty mountain in the background really grabbed our attention. The path gave a great visual appeal as it cut through the frame. The copper mountain and green leaves were a very pretty mix of color. The sound of the rain falling made it a joy to take this shot.
Another new perspective shot awaited us at the end of our walk.
We got on the bus and headed back the Visitor Center. The bus had a heater that was barely enough to keep us warm. Our wet jeans were beginning to make it miserable for us. We decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel. We will be back though to see more of what Zion National has to offer, that is for certain.