A few months ago, in early October, I took a road trip through southern Utah, visiting four National Parks along the way: Zion, Bryce, Arches, and Canyonlands. It was the beginning of an extended trip. The plan was to start at my home base in California, then a week of driving through southern Utah, then on to South Dakota to visit family, then on the way back visit a few friends in Oregon. I was pretty low energy at the time. Due to my summer tummy troubles, I wasn’t able to eat much, but for the first leg of the trip I felt well enough to be able to soak in the stunning southwestern scenery.
I bought a car on my return from Alaska, a little red Fiat 500. It’s a small vehicle, very small, but I managed to convert it into a little camper-car. By pulling out the back seats, I had just enough room to curl up at nights, wrapping my body around the food and gear. It wasn’t the most ideal sleeping arrangement, but it worked. It worked pretty well, actually, because a) it was a cheap way to travel and b) it allowed me to keep the trip entirely open-ended from day. Each night, all I had to do was find a rest stop and bed down, so I could do as much or as little as I wanted, meandering through the beautiful Parks in southern Utah.
Zion National Park is beautiful, but I didn’t stay long. The Park was packed. I circled around the Visitor’s Center parking lot for a long time, looking for parking. It was a large parking lot — I’d say it was at least the size of a Costco or sprawling Walmart parking lot. But despite the huge capacity, after circling the parking lot for 20 minutes or so, I couldn’t find a spot to park and drove on.
The other southern Utah Parks would be less crowded. I saw a lot of busses in Zion, and so I attribute the crowded congestion to Zion’s proximity to Las Vegas, which is less than two hours drive. I imagine that they bus in quite a few tourists from Vegas, over to Zion for day trips.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t a bad way to begin my tour of southern Utah. When I was able to hike out and get away from the buzz and bustle of the bussed in tourists, I found a few serene spots….like this: