Archive for the ‘National Parks’ Category

Fall Getaway

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Fall Getaway by Susan Strayer

Zion National Park in Autumn

Zion National Park in Autumn

 

My husband’s brithday is in October and this year we decided to celebrate with a two night stay at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. We’d been there earlier in the summer, but I was excited to see Zion National Park with fall colors. James was excited to ride the trails on the Ranch’s UTV.

Staying in a Comfortable Cabin Suite.

Fall Getaway at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

When we arrived at our cabin suite, I could already feel my muscles relax in anticipation of our vacation. The rustic style of the cabin suites, combined with the kitchenette and separate seating area made me feel right at home. We could’ve stayed in any of Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort’s six lodging options, but the cabin suite was the perfect choice.

 

We started our stay with dinner at the Blue Belly Grill. James had “the tastiest Bleu Bacon Cheesburger he’s ever had” and I had delicious Spicy Vegetarian Pasta. We enjoyed the food so much, we made a point to eat there again the next night.

Dinner at the Blue Belly Grill was delicious.

Dinner at the Blue Belly Grill was delicious.

 

In the morning we played mini golf before heading out on the trail. The Utility Vehicle we rented could seat six and easily handled the bumps of the numerous off road trails surounding the Ranch. We made our way to Jolley Gulch and Pine Knoll Observation point where we could see Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and way in the distance the north rim of the Grand Canyon. James loved it so much, I’m sure owning a UTV will be in our future.

 

Riding the trails in a UTV at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

Riding the trails in a UTV at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

We loved the UTV ride, but could’ve also gone horseback riding, ATVing or Rock Climbing thanks to all the activities Zion Ponderosa ranch offers. The weather in October was perfect, unlike the sweltering heat of the summer, the air was warm with a cool breeze.

Zion National Park in Autumn

Zion National Park in Autumn

 

The rest of our time was spent exploring the area’s National parks. Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort is located on the eastern border of Zion National Park, so of course we went there to see the fall colors. In October, the summer crowds have all disappeared so the park was relaxing and beautiful. The next day we decided to drive just over an hour to Bryce Canyon National Park to see the hoo doos there. Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort’s unique location between the two made it a great place to stay, and the beautiful fall weather made it the perfect time to visit.

 

All Utah National Parks – OPEN!

Monday, October 14th, 2013
Utah National Parks Open

A view of Zion Canyon and the valley floor from the trail that leads to Angels Landing

By now the word should be becoming more wide-spread that Utah government officials negotiated a deal with the federal government to pay the bill to re-open the national parks.  The agreement is to fund parks and monuments for at least 10 days, and it seems clear that Utah won’t let the parks close again while the federal government wrestles with their financial issues.

Zion National Park Reopened

Formations on the east side of Zion National Park reflected in a natural pond.

For visitors from around the United States, and from all over the world, that had been planning for months and years to visit the region, the word that the parks were open came as very welcome news.  Here at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort we saw a few cancellations but also picked up reservations from people who couldn’t get into the park.

Zion Canyon

Zion Canyon Utah

Zion Ponderosa is a destination ranch resort with six lodging types, a restaurant on-property, and with 20+ activities for guests.  The aforementioned amenities along with the fact that we border Zion National Park with 4, 000+ private acres still makes us an attractive vacation experience, despite the government shut-down of the national parks.  Even with the park closures visitors were able to venture out to experience the myriad other attractions in the region.

Zion Park Utah

A view from the saddle of the Angels Landing trail in Zion National Park

Utah is home Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and a host of national monuments, and visitation to these attractions has never been higher.  The strong numbers of visitors has been due in large part to the excellent marketing work, by public and private tourism operations, to spread the word about Utah’s great scenic attractions.   Approximately 70% of the lands in Utah are under federal control and so when the federal government has a shut-down, a rare occurrence, then it does change the dynamics of visitation to Utah, and this did have a serious economic impact on the state.

Zion Park Open

Looking back toward formations in Zion National Park from the road that leads through the tunnel.

We’re glad to see the parks open again, and invite you to continue to enjoy all the serenity and adventure that is offered at Zion Ponderosa, and to experience the magnificence of Utah’s national parks and monuments.

Read more about Zion National Park.

 

Zion National Park – Top Ten Things To Do!

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

This list of the Top Ten things to do in Zion National Park will give you some ideas for what will be best for you and your traveling companions.

Top Ten Things to Do at Zion National Park

1- Scenic Drive: The drive between the east and west gates of Zion National Park on highway 9 is a great drive, but the drive up into the main canyon at Zion, the so-called scenic drive, is quite spectacular.   Access this drive by going down into the park and turning right after you have passed the tunnel and descended to the canyon floor:

2- Overlook & Zion Tunnel: From the east gate, just before you get to the Zion tunnel you will find two areas where you can park your car.   From here you can climb a short set of stairs and walk to the west toward an overlook of part of the main canyon.  This is the easiest hike in the park that allows you to see from the top-down.

3- Narrows Trail: At the top of the main canyon there is a mile-long paved path that is called the Riverside Walk.  This trail leads deeper into what is called The Narrows section of the park.  At the end of the paved trail you have the option of walking in the river as far up The Narrows as you wish.   Check for details on water levels at the park information center.

4- Zion Narrows: The Zion Narrows is a 16 mile long section of the Virgin River that varies in width but is where steep rock faces form the sides of the river.   This area is quite surreal and is one of the most unique hiking experiences in America.   You can start at the bottom on the Narrows Trail and go up, but some intrepid hikers will start at the top and hike down.  The upper trail-head for this hike is most easily accessible from Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.

10 Things To Do At Zion National Park

Standing under the overhang where water exits the sandstone at Weeping Rock

5- Weeping Rock: During the main season, you can ride the shuttle to various points of interest.  One of the best is Weeping Rock where the water seeps down from the upper plateau, through the sandstone, and exits in a rock alcove.   In the spring or during a rain storm you’ll also see a waterfall here.

6- Emerald Pools: This is one of the most popular hikes in the park and leads from the Virgin River (mid-canyon) to two different pools of water up against the cliff faces.  This is a mildly strenuous ascent that leads to a point where waterfalls may also be visible at certain times of year or after a rain.

Angels Landing

From Angels Landing hikers can see the road for the scenic drive in the valley below.

7- Angels Landing: Perhaps one of the most dramatic and exciting hikes in America.  Visitors ascend mid-canyon along the face of a rock cliff, and then enter a narrow upper canyon before ascending on a back-and-forth section of trail called Walter’s Wiggles.  Beyond this you will traverse a narrow fin with a drop-off on both sides (1,000+ feet) and then ascend the last section of the hike along a spine that leads to the top of Angels Landing.

8- Observation Point: From Zion Ponderosa you can walk across the plateau to Observation Point, or you may begin a much more strenuous four-mile hike from the bottom of the park near Weeping Rock.  This hike takes you to one of the highest views of the main canyon.

Bighorn Sheep Zion

Bighorn Sheep are prevalent in Zion National Park and commonly seen.

9- Wildlife Viewing: Year-round you may be able to view deer, wild turkeys, and large birds such as eagles, condors, hawks, and ravens.  Bighorn sheep also inhabit the park’s upper east side (above the tunnel) and it is quite common to see these large animals near the road.

10- Court of the Patriarchs: One of the more remarkable views is found just after you enter the main canyon (on your right).  Here you’ll find a stopping point with a short walk (100 yards) to a view point for three large formations referred to as the Court of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).

We hope you enjoyed reading about the Top Ten Things to Do at Zion National Park.  Read more about Zion National Park – here!