2010: Zion National Park

Canyon Overlook Trail


Mike's cat cage is the talk of the RV park. Apparently it's also inviting to nocturnal visitors. In the middle of last night, something jumped onto the top of the cage, rocking the rig and sending both cats flying back inside through the cat door. Mike got up just in time to look through a window and see -- something with eyes. I wondered about a raccoon, but he assures me they don't jump that high. Another cat seems to be the most likely explanation. Whatever it was, it must have had some weight; the middle support in the top section is bent out of shape by about a half-inch.

Entrance to the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel. Cars waiting on the other side.

To reach Canyon Overlook Trail, our next hiking choice, you must drive to the east side of the park, through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel. Since park officials consider our one-ton dually truck an oversized vehicle (because of the dual rear tires and wide fenders), we had to pay a $15 fee for an "escort" through the tunnel. In truth, the escort just means that they only allow traffic in one direction at a time for the one-mile length of the tunnel. It was a good experiment since we plan to bring the truck AND trailer through the tunnel when we leave in another week or so.

Oh, and we had to take down the "No Tunnel" sign from the windshield. I was disappointed; there was no such thing as a "Yes Tunnel" sign.

The trail was pleasantly cool and uncrowded as we made a gradual climb. Trails in Zion are so different from what we experience in California; instead of packed, maintained dirt, the so-called "trails" are carved from solid rock. In one place where there was no way to make a footpath, they'd hung a sort of scaffolding that was drilled into a rock face. Like every other trail we'd seen, this one also had the requisite rock overhangs where you could bang your head and take silly pictures.

While it was enjoyable to walk the trail, the real payoff for this one is at the end viewpoint, where you can see the entire canyon laid out below.

Descending from the top, we got a look at the east side tunnel roadway from above. (To see Mike hiking back, check out this short YouTube video.)

After the hike, we decided to continue exploring the east side of Zion, including a landmark called Checkerboard Mesa. We made it as far as Mount Carmel, where we had a nondescript lunch at a local restaurant before turning around for home.

As we sat in the truck waiting in line for our return trip through the tunnel, a cyclist came up to the truck passenger window. Eddie and Jacqueline, cyclists from Holland, wanted to hitch a ride through the tunnel because the rangers won't let them ride their bicycles through. As they were loading their bicycles in the back of our truck, I turned around on the truck passenger seat, leaned over to clear some room in the back seat -- and fell out of the truck backwards head-first.

Ow. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say. Although I was sure I was dead for a minute or two, ultimately I had only a few scrapes on my back and a goose egg on my head. Jacqueline is a physical therapist, and she was all over me, checking here and poking there. She cautioned me to watch for dizziness or nausea; my worst nightmare was that Mike wouldn't let me go to sleep that night for fear that I had a concussion.

After we navigated the tunnel and dropped off our hitchhikers, I even managed to stop and take a picture of the giant Zion Arch, a prominent feature visible high above the winding roadway that leads back to the park entrance.