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Zion on a Rainy Winter Day


I took another opportunity to visit the Zion National Park, US, a winter visit, when the green of summer is gone, the grasses dry and golden and evening frosts grow ice in the deep alcoves of the canyon. Zion is part of the southwest plate of sandstone where the classic red canyons of the west are found. Here the Virgin river carved 1000ft deep creating a mirco-climate connected to the lower desert beyond the canyons mouth. Cliff tops far above meet a high plane where the temperatures are 10-20 degrees colder than the valley floor. This day, my second visit of the trip, the rain had been pouring throughout the night and the morning, but we knew that it would just reveal a wonder in the park and took our journey in anyway. As soon as the gateway of the park came into view, you could see that we had made the right decision to still visit today.

To the left you can just see the first of many waterfalls, flash flooding from the plane above. The mists were heavy and brought a glow to the light of the sky contrasting against all the red stone and evergreen trees. The rare sight of snow capping the canyon wall softening the edge as you almost touched heaven. Ah, Zion.

Up closer, you can see that the falls disappear in the descent. The winds blowing high above are moving at incredible speeds, blowing the falls into a mist and scattering it across the stone face or into the air.

Every turn, we found another waterfall high above, falling half the distance and disappearing into mist. Some like the one below, flew directly into the air from the very top, only the main flow making its way precariously down the cliff face.

Where the park road ends at the encircling cliffs of Temple Miniwaba, the shadow reaches deep and the snow has begun to collect. The stone pinnacle is called the pulpit, standing near the center of the temple, with encircling rock face all around, only the winding of the Virgin River carving through that wall without a space left for even a walking path. The ever-present parade of the cottonwoods along the river gather also in the temple, where moisture is high.

These are massive trunks, stunning against the white of the snow and red cliffs peaking through the mist and snow. No sign of the sun here in this place. The air is cold and wet, a stunning contrast to the dry and empty space I had visited only days before. Streams continued to pour from the cliffs above, encircling in a almost magical way.

Looking back the way we had come, the most famous shot of the park, Monument Rock from Temple Miniwaba, blanketed in snow and mists. We have begun to wend our way back out the road.

Within minutes the snow was gone, the heat growing as the deep places are left behind. In one of the shadows, a grove of cottonwood caught my eye, all the evergreens behind washed clean with rain, the air fresh and crisp. Even the grass looked golden rather than dusty.

I found one battered and lonely cottonwood on a corner along the roadside, the river valley and canyon beyond spread beneath a still stormy sky. Every moment was like a treasure.

Further along we came across a path into the distance, through the cottonwood trees to the cliffs beyond. Nestled in these cliffs are the Emerald Pools, three small pools of jade green collected in the stone. The paths was dangerously iced over, not a way I took this time through. I was still taken back but the stunning beauty of the snow high above.

In the thicket of willow nestled spring herds of deer. One strong and mature buck watching us as the doe’s rested and chewed grass. The deer herds were plentiful. I loved the rare sight of these harems gathered together. Here in Alaska there aren’t deer other than reindeer, a significantly different creature from these.

Those final turns from the canyon to the main park road opened up the valley, the rock outcroppings take on shape with a withdrawal of the rain, a stillness which would turnout to be the eye before the storm. This formation is part of the patriarchs, one peak hidden behind others that stand closer to this point. Water pours from the upper point, another moment of wonder.

Another direction, the rough face of an outcrop stands alone behind the bare branches of a large rabbit brush still showing remnants of last years flowers. The cedar and juniper growing along the slopes glisten with wetness, many fruiting with blue clumps of berry.

The cliffs still pour as the snow above melts, the rush of the water and wind still filling the air. What a rare moment to catch when just visiting, that first spring rain of the desert.

It did not end there. We turned and headed on the main park road to the rim, around the back of the cliffs I’ve shown, to the plane above. That will be another journey to come.


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That was fabulous greenthumb, thank you so much for the lovely photos and your comments.
like a travel program contained in a blog ~ brilliant.
Its great to be able to find out about other places in the world
thank you

5 May, 2012


Gt thats truly an awesome place, your photo's are fabulous, it has a beauty that is also quite scary in places, just a feeling I was getting from some studying of the photo`s.
Thankyou so much for describing it all so well, I look forward to seeing more of your world...

6 May, 2012


Thanks for showing It must have been a wonderful experience to see first hand

6 May, 2012


Fantastic rock formations ... marvelous how they form. Such an interesting and fascinating place. I also love the way rain freshens everything up. Everywhere looks different after rain - nice and fresh.

6 May, 2012


Hi Greenthumb ..
Amazing waterfalls and dramatic, stunning scenery all around !

Well done on a great set of photos and wonderful descriptions.
I'm adding to GoYpedia. :o)

6 May, 2012


Very dramatic pictures, fabulous. Every now and then I thought I saw cowboys and indians !!! Lol.

6 May, 2012


Wonderful red rock there, stunning colours, great blog Gt. and so nicely annotated. You certainly live in a beautiful part of this world. Thank you.

6 May, 2012


such a great blog GT. i soo enjoyed your tour of such an amazing place..:-)

6 May, 2012


Thank you all for your kind comments. I love to share those trips I take, and this one was such a wonderful experience. I wish i could share the rushing sound of the water and wind. These pics all look so quiet. :-)

7 May, 2012


Thank you. Yes, it is a wonderful place. And so much more comfortable in winter, it is a scorching 110F in summer.

13 Sep, 2012

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