Our amazing drive along Utah's Scenic Byways on September 22 ended with a breathtaking ride along the Mt. Carmel Highway - the winding road that starts at the East Entrance to Zion National Park. We enjoyed views of massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky as the sun set before us.
The drive included a 1.1 mile tunnel carved into the mountain. An occasional arch-shaped "window" cut into the hillside partially lit the road. After we exited the other end and navigated a few switch-backs, we could look back and see the openings in the tunnel - an engineering marvel.
We were a bit disappointed when we discovered that the Comfort Inn Zion Park Area was actually 40 minutes from the park entrance in a town called Hurricane. Fortunately, close by was a good restaurant called "Pig's Ear American Bistro" where the evening special was oddly a vegetarian option that was delicious. We settled down and plotted our strategy for the next day's visit to the park. You can only drive so far into Zion - the rest of the way into the valley you need to use shuttle busses, walk, or...decision made: we'd take our bikes!
We were up early and made it to the park and found our parking spot before 9:00. Did Richard really believe that we could manage a 20-mile round-trip bike ride? His theory - the first 10 miles miles would be a steady uphill grade, but the return trip would be an easy down-hill coast. The first leg started out on a dedicated paved bike path, but soon we were sharing the road with the shuttle busses and the wind was in our faces. We stopped often to take in the glorious views, sip our water, and just build up strength for the next hill. A few miles in, Nancy was walking her bike up the steeper inclines and committing to just go as far as the Zion Lodge at mile 4 for rest and rejuvenation. The real torture was watching the folks on the electric bikes zooming past us with smiles on their faces.
We didn't make it to Zion's most popular attractions - "Angel's Landing", and "The Narrows". Oh well - we have a good excuse to return for another visit to this glorious place! This time we'll heed our hard-earned travel tips: reserve an electric bike in advance (they were all rented out), or even better - buy the shuttle bus ticket, set your bike onto the front racks, take the bus as far as it will go, and glide downhill all the way back!
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Nancy McCabe &