(300 words in 30 days, take 2, day 2)
According to the dictionary, Zion is either the hill that Jerusalem was built on or can also be considered another name for Africa among Rastafarians. President Taft originally named the park Mukuntuweap National Monument. That doesn’t roll off the tongue so easily, so the park was renamed Zion because Mormons, in their beliefs, gave it that name.
I find this interesting because often times secular Jews are called Zionists. Or rather, Jews outside of Israel who support Israel are called Zionists - because of dictionary definition #1 and yet the United States has its own Zion. That’s the kind of coincidence I find amusing.
Zion National Park was a little nuts. I left Hurricane, pretty early in the morning to go to Zion. Besides many people telling me it was someplace I needed to see, I’d done zero research on the park. 20/20 hindsight, I would have skipped Capitol Reef (Sorry) & spent two nights in Springdale, just outside of Zion, in order to have a full day (without driving) to spend in the canyon.
When I got to the park entrance about 10am, there was a sign that read “Parking Full. Please park in town.” I don’t remember E V E R seeing this at a national park, ever. Not during free park days at the Grand Canyon. Not in the year I lived in Yosemite. This was a new experience for me.
I didn’t turn around, park back in Springdale & take the shuttle because I didn’t know the park or have a plan. Zion was “on the list.” I wanted to satisfy that curiosity. No more, no less.
It took a while but I found a 15 minute parking spot near the visitors center. Something for the magnet collection was necessary. I didn’t feel tied to 15 minutes. That the park police would have a timer on the spot and tow me away but I wasn’t going to leave my car there for the 90 minute shuttle either. When I went into the visitors center & talked to one of the women working, she told me that Zion National Park got 4,500,000 visitors in 2017. That’s intense. It’s not a big park.
Just sitting in my car, seeing throngs of people in the parking lot of Zion, I had this immediate feeling of wanted to leave. Every once in a while, I’ll get claustrophobic. Usually it’s in an overly crowded room. I’d never felt a sense of claustrophobia in someplace, basically open air. It was strange. Most likely because I wasn’t prepared. I’d been traveling through mostly quiet scenic highways, small towns & national parks in Utah so to see this crowd was a shock to my system.
I got my magnet (and a t-shirt) and got in the car to head through the park. It was a gorgeous drive and for a national park, surprisingly busy. There was more than one point that I would have stopped to take a photo but the curb was either 1. Too busy or 2. A little too shallow for my comfort. My compact car probably wouldn’t have fallen off a cliff but it was the first time on this drive where the thought, “A boy would probably park there.”
A guy in the gift shop told me that I should hang out in Zion. He & his family had been visiting since 1972. Bryce Canyon you can see in a few hours. With all due respect, I’m sure there is more to Zion than what I saw driving through but Bryce was spectacular. There’s just as much to see there. I’m glad I did the drive through Zion and spend time close to sunset overlooking Bryce Canyon.