On April 4 we left Bryce Canyon, UT for Orderville, UT (elevation 5,449 feet) just 1.5 hours down the road. We stayed at the XBarH Lodge for 4 nights. XBarH has a community kitchen, living rooms, and TV/game room. The owners live behind the guest lodge and our building had 4 bedrooms with private baths – just to note, XBarH also has a standalone cabin. Our hosts Michele and JC know just how to make people comfortable on their 75-acre spread, and might I say this place was beautiful.
XBarH is located 25 minutes from the east entrance to Zion National Park. Then it's another 25 minute drive to the visitors center (elevation approximately 3,000 feet). On this part of the drive in Zion, you are able to see the massive walls of the canyon as you drive around scenic geologic masterpieces. Unfortunately, the roads are narrow (designed for Model T's),and there are limited pullouts to stop and enjoy the scenery.
We visited Zion in 1985 and getting around the park changed considerably since then. In 2000 a shuttle bus system was implemented to reduce traffic congestion, parking issues, and carbon emissions at this very popular park. It runs along the 8.6 mile canyon floor stopping at 9 locations and takes 45 minutes one-way. Buses leave every 15 minute from each stop so you never have long to wait; unless, that is, it's peak season and shuttle after shuttle is full of people! The shuttle runs 8 months of the year plus holiday weekends; and when the shuttle runs, there are no cars allowed to drive the valley floor. I was disappointed with the limited viewing from the bus, and did not appreciate the rather noisy buses while I was walking on trails in the vicinity. While we arrived early on the days we visited the park and had no problems catching a bus, later in the day it was crazy with people waiting in long queues (and it wasn't even the busy season although it was during spring break).
Dennis and I hiked to Upper Emerald Pool. Even though we were early, the trail was crowded going up and even worse on the way back. My idea of an outdoor experience is to feel the sense of peace that only nature can offer. Crowded trails with people talking non-stop is not the outdoor experience I desire to have.
After the previous days hike, I was done with crowded hiking tails and buses in the park. D returned the next day to hike the very steep and narrow trail to Angels Landing. On this hike he overheard a young child asking why the hike was called Angles Landing, and dad replied, "It's because if you fall, when you land you'll be an angel!" One should note that there have been 6 deaths on this trail since 2004. I am reminded of the line by Alexander Pope, "For fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
While Dennis got an early start and beat most of the crowds, on his way back down it was a different story!
Thanks for joining us on our journey.