Thursday – November 6, 2014
Utah Route 9
Zion National Park
We took a 24-mile auto tour, east on Utah Highway 9, from Springdale, Utah, through Zion National Park, ending our tour at the Mt. Carmel Junction at U.S. Highway 89. It was another beautiful sunny day with the temperature in the low seventies; a perfect day to view the massive rock formations that dominate this magnificent national park.
After traveling a short distance from the west entrance of Zion National Park, Utah Highway 9 goes up a steep grade, through a series of 20-mph switchbacks. After traveling another 3.6 miles, vehicles enter the 1.1-mile long Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. The tunnel was built in the 1920s when large vehicles were less common. Vehicles higher than 11’4" and wider than 7’ 10" require one-lane traffic control through the tunnel and must pay a $15.00 fee to pass through the tunnel.
Shortly after exiting the east entrance to Zion National Park, we came upon the Zion Mountain Ranch. The ranch has lodging available, a corral of horses, a gift shop, and a Buffalo Grill. The ranch also has a herd of buffalo. We were surprised to see a single steer grazing with the herd of buffalo. The steer had a beautiful black and white patterned coat with a perfectly formed set of curved horns.
Upon our re-entry into Zion National Park from the east entrance, we came upon two bighorn sheep grazing along the side of the road.
We also spotted a family climbing up a fairly steep rock formation.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.