The Grand Circle Tour – Day One – Zion National Park

Springdale, Utah and Zion National Park

We arrived in Springdale and headed directly to our hotel – the Best Western Plus.  We learned that the hotel had only recently opened for business, so everything was crisp and clean and new.  The town itself was very picturesque with upscale shops and art galleries dotted along the beautifully-landscaped main road.  We could see the imposing mountains of red rock to the east and to the west, reminding us of the purpose of our visit.

Zion National Park covers 229 square miles.  Its most prominent feature is Zion Canyon, which stretches 15 miles long and is up to a half a mile deep in places.  The canyon was cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the north fork of the Virgin River.

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Best Western Plus With Mountains In The Background

After a quick trip to the Switchback Restaurant and Store to secure happy hour provisions for later, we decided to head to the park.  The friendly hotel staff explained that parking inside of Zion was scarce, so they suggested that we take the free shuttle service to the park entrance.  We hopped on the shuttle at stop #4 (directly in front of the hotel) and were at the park a few minutes later.

After passing through the entrance, we grabbed some trail mix and granola bars for a quick, on-the-go lunch.  We then jumped on the courtesy shuttle inside the park and headed to the furthest stop (#9) to reach the Riverside Walk.

The shuttle ride itself was a treat.  Our heads were on a swivel trying to take in the amazing vistas all around us.  At the trailhead, we were intrigued by a rock climber making his ascent up a sheer cliff face.

As we walked along the Virgin River, there were soaring rock walls on both sides.

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Bridge to the Park Entrance
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The Virgin River
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Path Along the Riverside Walk

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Picasso Face

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We saw surprisingly-tame rock squirrels, deer and wild turkeys along the way.

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After shuttling back to the hotel, we enjoyed a short happy hour in Jan and Dawne’s room and then headed out to Pizza and Noodle for a casual dinner.  We all chose the house specialty of Chicken Parmesan, which was delicious.  After dinner, we returned to the hotel, had a final nightcap and retired to our rooms for a much-needed night of sleep.

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