Today’s post is going to be a long one. I had some breakfast again, showered, got some gas for the Jeep and was on my way to Springdale, UT. The drive up there is mesmerising, every frigging time! UT12 is probably one of the most beautiful roads to drive on and still, the american drivers just don’t get it. I haven’t mentioned it before and I probably should have, but this is not something that only happened this trip, it’s been like this every time I travel to this country.
US-drivers obey the speed limit and drive in a relatively calm matter when they’re in a city, but once they get out of that city, it’s the wild wild west out there! Even when you’re already driving 10mph above the speed limit, almost all of them feel the need to tailgate you and to push you to speed even more. Some of them also have really strange behaviour, they will follow you for miles, then tailgate you on a passing lane (why?), to eventually pass you in a no passing zone. Others, while waiting to turn on the main road or highway, will even wait for you to get past them, before eventually turning up the road themselves (although they had like a mile before I was even close to passing them by). After they get behind you, they will tailgate you, which causes you to speed, which causes them to tailgate you even more. It truly makes no sense what so ever and I’m also convinced that a lot of these drivers would fail the european driving exams. It’s like the majority of the drivers out here got their licences for free in some all-you-can-eat contest. Remember, this is not a local thing or a single occurrence. This has happened to me on every trip, in every state, it is a mentality issue that’s inherent to this country. There is simply no way you can drive on the speed limit (or even roughly around it) without someone tailgating you, it’s utterly frustrating. After a lot of interactions with the numerous morons on the road here, I finally made it to Zion National Park. It’s funny that the same drivers then become the most dedicated and slow drivers in the world, they will even drive 10mph UNDER the speed limit! Just erratic and annoying driving behaviour, there is no consistency.
I drove through the park, stopped numerous times and since it was around 2pm, I thought I’d check out the hotel. I knew I was way too early to checkin, but the clerk was very nice and since my room was ready, he checked me in anyway, NICE! When I got to my room, there was some sort of animal on the wall next to my door. When I got closer, it moved! It looked like some kind of lizard, I guess it’s a bearded dragon? Anyway, I got settled, updated the blog, uploaded some pictures and got some dinner in town. By 5pm I decided to take the shuttle into the scenic section of the park. The shuttle is mandatory, since vehicles are not allowed here from March till November. Only in the Winter months can you drive your car up here and it’ll also have to be a weekday. This is why I have a love/hate relationship with Zion NP. I love it for it’s beauty, but I hate it for it’s shuttle system. Don’t get me wrong, there are a million reasons why a shuttle system works up here for the majority of the visitors. But simply put, I’m not a fan. I love a National Park where you can just drive around, stop, take pictures, visit the next viewpoint or do a hike. But if you feel like you’re in Disney Land, it’s not a National Park anymore. Last week I also heard that Arches NP was thinking about implementing a shuttle system, since the summer months are extremely busy and a lot of people don’t get to do certain hikes like Delicate Arch for example. The parking lots for these hikes are usually full during the day, don’t even think about parking there 2 hours before sunset. But yeah, to come back to my hate towards shuttle systems in National Parks, I’m going to give you an example. If you would like to visit Big Bend in Zion, it would take you about 10-15mins take the shuttle from your hotel to the Theatre, then you would have to walk to the shuttle stop at the Visitor Center, from there on it would take you another 40mins on the Park Shuttle to the Big Bend shuttle stop. That’s about 60mins in total, and don’t forget, you have to do that again on the way down the canyon. If you would then walk around the river for half an hour, that would make it a 2,5 hour trip for one stop in the park. A lot visitors won’t mind this at all, but for people like me, it’s just a big waste of time. The only solution for this park in particular, is staying at the Lodge in the park itself. You could take Park Shuttle and be at any shuttle stop relatively quickly, but the rooms in The Zion Lodge are usually sold out well in advance. So, to conclude. Although Zion is extremely beautiful and offers a variety of different things to do, the shuttle system takes away a big part of the experience for me. Parks like Yosemite are also very crowded and they also have shuttles, but they still let you go to certain points in the park after certain hours. If you want to drive your car up to Glacier Point, fine, just do it after 4pm. I think that something like this would help a lot of for people like me here in Zion. But for now, there is simply no legal way to go up there after sunset to do your thing.
Anyway, enough ranting for today. To sum up: I stopped at a few shuttle stops, walked around, took some pictures and headed back to town around 8pm (since I had to make the last shuttle back to town). In the end I didn’t really spend a lot of time in the park, mainly because of the shuttle times. Tomorrow I’m going back to Vegas, but first I’ll make a stop at Kolob Canyon, the Northern part of Zion NP. And yeah, cars are allowed there since the majority of the crowd is in the main canyon.