Finishing up early at Buckskin Gulch allowed us just enough daylight to skim the surface of Zion National Park. Zion, Utah’s oldest and most visited national park, is located in the southwestern corner of the state. The park is amazing, but don’t think that you’re going to see much of it in one afternoon. We immediately went to the visitor center and after hearing all available options for the day, we surmised that our best option was to hop aboard the park’s next tour bus. The Zion tour bus runs from the visitor center all the way up to the top of southern Zion. There are many stops along the way, and passengers may exit at any time, take photos, hike, and get on the next bus that passes. These back-to-back shuttles run every seven minutes and are free – a great way to get a quick cross-section of the park.
At one of the bus stops we took a short hike to Weeping Rock (a large rock face that almost constantly drips – sometimes on my camera). We also saw various peaks and hiked down to the river (where deer were grazing). What really made the Zion experience special for me was the bus driver that drove us from the last stop all the way back to the visitor center. His name was Jim, and he was as ornery as he was entertaining. Jim has lived in the Zion area for forty years, more than enough time to be considered an aficionado. Jim pulled no punches whether discussing park conspiracies, hidden spots, and how he’d do things if he were in charge. If you ever get up to Zion in southwestern Utah, ask for Jim the tour bus driver.
That night, I took a wrong turn leaving Zion which put us finding a home for our tent quite late. We pulled into the Red Ledge Campground some time past sunset, and in these parts the sun goes down after 9:30PM. We set up camp, the only tent on a grassy knoll amongst several RVs, and passed out.