Saturday, January 14, 2006

Zion National Park in the Fall

Visiting Zion National Park in southwestern Utah makes the perfect fall getaway for families or couples seeking some calm before the onslaught of holiday madness.
We weren't new to Zion and count it among my husband's and my favorites for hiking. We however, had never spent more than a day at the time in the park,
nor camped or stayed at the park lodge operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts for the
National Park Service

This year we travelled by car from southern California with our school age children, one of them suffering from the tail end of the flu. After a few of the normal stops, as well as a stop in
Saint George, UT for shoes someone forgot(this is the last big town before the park if you forgot something that you wouldn't find in very small town) we arrived in about 8 hours.
What a sight for sore eyes Zion is! and in all of her fall splendor. I grew up in New England, and know good fall foliage. Living in CA for nearly the last decade had dimmed my memories, but not my love of this season. Thank you Zion for bringing it all rushing back, and allowing my children to experience the joy of autumn. There is nothing like the smell from the leaves, and the blue of the sky. The joy of a child jumping in the leaves, and chasing us with leaves is one of the simplest pleasures.

In the late fall, the roads in Zion are no longer controlled and accessed by shuttle access only. This alone is a good reason to visit out of season.

Five good reasons to visit Zion out of season:

  1. Crowds are gone
  2. Autos allowed on inner road
  3. Amazing foliage
  4. Comfortable hiking temperatures
  5. Short notice availability at the lodge and historic cabins

Our first night was spent in the lovely, but tiny historic cabin. Unfortunately, this Vacation Mamma, had no vacation that night! At one point I had one child hacking away, one crying in front of the lovely gas fireplace, and one husband snoring from the long drive. Though a nice idea, the cabin is just too small for four people, never mind four with sickness, insomnia, and snoring thrown it...

The front desk staff at the lodge were extremely accomodating, and the next morning we not only moved to the lodge nearby, but we rented adjoining rooms with a total of four queen size beds, and a convenient first floor local. We lost the fireplace, but boy was the sleep worth it. The cozy and rustic historical cabins were priced at approximately $142/ night plus tax, plus for every night we stayed, the second night was half off. The remodeled lodge was $132/night, second night 1/2 off.

Because we were trying to relax, breakfast was simple snacks & fruit from the lodge's coffee stand, lunches were picnics from our cooler on hikes (no room fridges, but plenty of ice), and most dinners were taken at the lodge's dining room upstairs, which requires dinner reservations. Contrary to other reviews I read, the food was excellent, and with one rare lunch exception, the service quite attentive. The best value was the soup and salad bar. Surprisingly the fish was great (I am always afraid to order fish away from the coast).

Much has been said about Zion hiking and can be easily found, so I won't elaborate too much, except to say "Just Do It." The hiking is some of the best in the country, and November provides perfect temperatures to climb. Expect 40's in the morning and evening, with perfect sunny days in the mid 60's. Bring your camera, sun screen, and plenty of water.

Total bill 5 nights:approx $815

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