Cedar Breaks National Monument was very scenic and an appetite-whetting stop along Utah Hwy. 12. Whenever we plan a trip we always stop by AAA and pick up road maps. My wife and I look for the dotted lines indicating a scenic highway. In Utah this is somewhat misleading because just about every road including the interstate highway is somewhat scenic. Maybe they should put an asterisk next to each dotted line and say " even more scenic" than other roads. So put Hwy 12 on your list to roll down in your rental.
We were staying in Springdale just a very short distance from the front gate to Zion NP. Their town is basically a short commercial district lined with restaurants, hotels/motels, etc. The city provides free shuttles to and from the park. Once inside, you can ride another set of shuttles with stops close to each sites. It is a great system of travel. Just leave your car at the motel and let someone else drive you. The first morning we got up to see the sunrise, grabbed breakfast and headed to the park.
With regard to hiking trails, read more than one description of each site and their definition of easy, moderate and strenuous hikes. I never felt so geezerly until I hiked in Zion. Of course I am fat, old and out of shape and know they don't really mean the hike is that strenuous. My first clue that I was in trouble was that my legs and feet hurt like hell. I noticed that as I sucked in huge gulps of oxygen-light air
You hear about Zion and Bryce Canyon. They are very different in many ways. At Zion you are looking up from below and at Bryce you are looking down from the rim. So up it is today.
Our first hike in Zion was the Watchman Trail that went traversed a somewhat rocky, narrow path all the way up and up and up. Being flatlanders we found the lack of oxygen at that altitude to be difficult especially at first. We had a couple of minor rain showers that morning but were very pleased when we saw a rainbow. We thought we were doing pretty well and holding our own. As a matter of fact, I was thinking "this is kind of tough but not terrible" as I sucked in great gulps of air. My ego was completely deflated when a guy in his early thirties went flying past us running UP THE PATH. I almost said outloud "show-off." I was thinking about tripping him as he zoomed by us half an hour later running back down.
When we got down and were walking toward the main building when a guy on a bike rode by. He had a colorful parrot on his right shoulder. You had to smile and we forgot about our aching feet and knees for a nano-second. Later the same day we also hiked up to the lower of the Emerald Pools. Water was coming out of the rock ledge above and showering down to fill the pool. We did not try to walk up to the upper pool because we were pooped.
So, we survived our first day at Zion and headed to the Pizza Noodle which had pretty good food. One thing you will notice in traveling Utah, there are few gas stations and even fewer liquor stores.
Enjoy the pics. The next part will be about Kolob Canyon....wow!