Took advantage of the three day weekend to sneak a little time in Zion. Slightly later start than desired, and I knew I was going to catch some traffic driving through the Arizona Strip.
My plan for the week was to leave reasonably early on Saturday morning. It's about six hours of driving to St. George, but with traffic and leg-stretching breaks, you need to allow about seven hours. Another hour to Zion.
The tricky part was not to get there too early, because all of the parking in the park would certainly be filled, possibly even before I got out of Los Angeles County! In fact, the plan was basically to get there after most people had left Zion, so I could find somewhere for me to park.
Checked in to a Super 8 on St. George Blvd. It was a bit less than sixty dollars, with tax, and about twenty dollars less than something similar in Hurricane (20 minutes or so closer). Within the same family of hotels, there's a La Quinta in Springdale. Unfortunately, for me, I learned that a free night there would cost 30,000 points, instead of the 15,000 points (or less) for most Super 8 or Days Inn-type places, even if the nightly rate in some of those is higher than the La Quita in Springdale.
I mention all of this in relation to the logistics of trying to visit Zion. If you can't get there early enough, you can't find parking in the park, at least not near Zion Canyon. And parking in Springdale cost as high as $20 a day, in addition to the regular Zion National Park entry fee, and even that can fill pretty quickly. My assumption was that on the Labor Day weekend, this was especially likely to be true.
So I spent some time in my motel room, eating a late lunch/early dinner, and contemplating my options, given the remaining sunlight. Decided I'd just settle for the Pa'rus trail. The main goal, after all, was just to get some Milky Way shots, with the Watchman as the foreground.
Fortuitously, a car backed out of a spot at Canyon Junction just as I got there. If there were no spots there, I was just going to go back up to the Human History Museum, a mile down the Virgin River. But with a spot found, I was set, for the night.
Also turned out there was a portapotty right at the shuttle stop for Canyon, so, again, set for the night. :D
Astronomical twilight did not end until about 9pm, so I had plenty of time to walk the mile and a half or so from Canyon to South Campground, and back. Snapped a few shots. I also saw evidence of construction. I'm not sure if there's planning on adding vault toilets or just informational kiosk/rest benches along the way, but construction is under way.
I think all of the shots I posted ended from Zion ended up being taken just north of where the trail from the Human History museum intersects with Pa'rus. I later took a number of shots from the bridge at Canyon Junction, but liked these, better. Used both my Nikon 35mm and 20mm f/1.8 lenses.
The next morning, I visited Pioneer Park. Not even a mile drive to get there from my motel room.
This is a small park, traced around a lot of red rock sandstone. There's a small arch atop one of those rocks. The regular trail to get there is up the very well-defined, decomposed granite trail below and to the right from the second parking area. That comes up from behind, and is maybe a quarter mile in length. But I think most people just walk right up the sandstone to get there.
I didn't measure the arch in size. I can say that a person could crawl through it, but not walk through it. I did neither, of course.
As it's sandstone, it's soft, especially when wet. Many names and other things carved on the sandstone, including on the arch. I didn't do that, either, of course.
That was on Sunday morning. Then I drove down to Las Vegas, wanting to get through the Virgin River Gorge before traffic started building.
It was something ridiculous, like 110 degrees, in Las Vegas. Didn't do any hiking there.
There are a number of other places I'd like to visit around St. George, and in the Virgin River Gorge. But I think I'll wait until late fall or early winter, after it's cooled down a good deal, before visiting those other places.