One can stay in Kanab and take day trips to these parks easily. So that's what we are doing. Our first was Zion, on Monday.
Zion is the closest, about 30 miles from Best Friends. That distance got us to the east entrance, which is not the main entrance to the park so is less crowded. Clearly it is no less beautiful.
Not far from the East Entrance
The rugged cliffs are adorned by trees in much of the park.
We drove through a 1.1-mile tunnel that was built in the 1930s (we couldn't help but wonder under what conditions) - as well as a shorter more recently built tunnel that is carved out of the rock - to get to the visitor's center. There, of course, I got my "Utah Rocks!" T-shirt, then we drove a short way to the museum, where we parked to get on the shuttle. The park requires visitors to take their free shuttles up the Zion canyon during the summer, to reduce pollution and congestion. I can imagine what a different experience it would have been when cars were spending hours seeking parking spaces, crowding each other off the road. The shuttle is comfortable and affords views even through the roof:
We took the shuttle to the Weeping Rock stop and hiked a short distance, but steep, to that rock:
Water drips through the rock continuously and creates a hanging garden as well as some welcome sprinkles.
When we returned we spotted children playing in the Virgin River. This river created Zion, eating through layers of sandstone over thousands - millions? - of years. We later checked out the museum and saw the film but I do not remember the length of time it took to create this ever-changing place. What I do remember is what our first shuttle driver mentioned: the park is not getting the amount of rain it used to get so the river is not overtopping the banks and feeding the cottonwood seeds, which need a burst of water to get started. The cottonwoods that line much of the canyon drive are all about 75 years old and he said, ominously, that in thirty years they may well all be gone and there will be no more. Climate change, anyone?
Also check out Elaine's post on Zion - see especially the squirrel at the end. I took a similar pic but had only my wide-angle lens (the others having been stolen) so could not get as close.