We drove into Zion National Park by way of the East entrance, which takes you through two tunnels. One, the Mount Zion, is over a mile long and took three years to build, an engineering feat in itself. When completed in 1930, it cut down extensively on the drive from Bryce Canyon. The Visitor’s Center is as far as you are allowed to drive your own car, unless you are staying at The Lodge. Shuttle buses carry tourists out the 7-mile Scenic Drive to the Temple of Sinawava. There are stops along the way for points of interest. For the holiday weekend, shuttles were running three minutes apart, so the flow of visitors was very efficient. The drive goes along the Virgin River, which formed the canyons millions of years ago.
The Riverside Walk begins at the end of the shuttle for a 2.2 mile (round trip) walk along the river and the narrow canyon. At the end of the path, some continue walking in the river in the area called The Narrows. It is possible to walk 9 more miles (one way). Proper foot gear and poles are rented for this purpose. We only walked to the end of the path. There are numerous hiking trails throughout the park, but many are steep and strenuous. The only other hike we took was the Lower Emerald Pool Trail which included a waterfall, although not much this late in the season.
Zion is truly magnificent and attracts the largest visitors of any of the canyons in Utah, some 2.5 million annually. One of the unusual sights at Zion is the “checkerboard” pattern to some of the rock formations. The dramatic effects are from the scouring wind, ice freezing and thawing and from the release of pressures from within.