Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Contrasting Zion Canyon and Bryce Canyon

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Many people coming to stay at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort have the opportunity to enjoy the scenic diversity of this region.   If you’ve spent time on our web-site you know that our ranch sits literally on the border of Zion National Park.   The good news is that Bryce Canyon National Park is just 75 minutes away and makes a perfect half-day or full-day excursion while staying with us.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Hoodoos colored by oxidizing minerals in rock

Bryce Canyon is quite different from Zion in that most of Bryce sits between 8,000 and 9,000 feet in elevation, while the most accessible parts of Zion are within the 4,000 to 6,500 feet elevation range.   Anciently this entire region was part of the bottom of a great lake.   Zion represents layers of sediment that were deposited in the lake much earlier than Bryce Canyon.     The layers of sediment that comprise Bryce Canyon National Park are predominantly limestone while Zion is mostly sandstone.

The harder limestone in  Bryce Canyon is eroded by water entering the cracks of the stone and then freezing and breaking.   This creates hard chunks or small boulders that break and fall away.   Zion is eroded in a much smoother fashion by flowing water or by wind.    In both cases it is rare to ever see the erosion effects actually occurring.    Flash floods in Zion National Park offer one time when you can see erosion in full-swing.  This usually occurs when rain comes heavily in one area for several hours and the water gathers on Zion’s upper reaches and flows into narrow slot canyons.   Within a matter of minutes the quickly accumulating water can rise to levels of over 40 feet, insde a slot canyon.  This rare occurring event represents a time when you will not want to be nearby.    At Bryce Canyon you’ll find that melting snow and heavy rains have less of an immediate impact.

Bryce Canyon is actually a series of rock amphitheaters on the eastern edge of a large plateau.   You can drive along the rim and stop at many points along the 20 mile road that traverses the Bryce Canyon plateau area.   You may also walk down inside the amphitheaters among the rock formations called Hoodoos.     Willdlife such as deer, porcupines, coyotes, mountain lions (cougars), and many types of birds inhabit this region.   It is not uncommon to see mule deer on your visit to Bryce Canyon.

How to get to Bryce Canyon:     Leave Zion Ponderosa and go five miles southeast on the Northfork Road.   Turn left at Highway 9 and follow this 14 miles to Mt. Carmel Junction.    Turn left on highway 89 and go north approx. 35 miles to Scenic Highway 12.  Turn right and follow this through Red Canyon and onto the plateau (approx. 10 miles).  Turn left at highway 63 (watch for signs).   Go south two miles to the Bryce Canyon National Park entrance.

Canyoneering at Zion National Park

Friday, October 16th, 2009
Canyoneering in Zion National Park

Canyoneering in Zion National Park

Canyoneering:

Most people have never heard the term canyoneering.    In fact the dictionary doesn’t even recognize the name.   So what does it mean?   Essentially canyoneering is the art or experience of exploring and traveling through canyons.   The similar term of canyoning is used outside the United States to describe this experience.

Wading through pools of water in slot canyon

Wading through pools of water in slot canyon

Canyoneering participants are most often walking, down-climbing (sometimes with ropes) and negotiating technical obstacles in canyons that often contain flowing water or in some cases, remnant pools of rainwater.    With these pools and/or waterfalls, there is often also the need to swim.

There are few places in the world that offer a more magnificent canyoneering opportunity than Zion National Park.  If fact, look-up canyoneering in Wikipedia and the first photo you’ll see (10-16-09) is one of Mystery Canyon in Zion National Park.

Why is canyoneering in Zion National Park so unique? The answer is that the canyons in Zion are comprised of sandstone that has been stained by oxidizing iron.   The many hues of white, ochre and red sandstone provide a colorful experience not found, in such abundance, anywhere else in the world.   Mix in the pine trees, scrub-oak and cottonwood trees that cling to the rock crevices and line the canyons, the blue-sky far overhead, and you have an remarkable color palette.

Some canyoneering experiences require many rappels (with ropes), and therefore also necessitate that at least one or two people in the group have strong skills with rappelling.   The good news is that Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort offers skilled guides to take you on a canyoneering adventure, so that you won’t need to acquire rappelling knowledge.    There are canyons to explore that require just the ability to scramble over or down obstacles or rocks that are 10 to 20 feet high.   In these cases, a simple strong rope and some basic skills and agility will suffice.

Gazing up at the sot canyon walls that rise vertically to great heights

Gazing up at the sot canyon walls that rise vertically to great heights

Zion National Park offers some of the world’s best slot canyons for canyoneering exploration.   Places such as The Narrows, The Subway, Orderville Canyon, Mystery Canyon, Englestead Canyon and others offer various levels of adventure and challenge.

In Zion National Park it is often best to start at the top of the canyon and hike down.   Zion Ponderosa offers shuttles to pick you up at the end of your canyoneering adventure.   You may also choose to enter the Narrows from the bottom and walk up-river as far as you choose and then turn around and come back down.   With this method you can leave a car outside the park and return via Zion National Park shuttle (during main season).

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Visit our canyoneering page by clicking here to learn more about the special slot canyon adventures that we offer.

Centennial Celebration! 100 Years – Zion National Park

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009


Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort
will host a  Zion National Park Centennial Celebration party on August 15, 2009.   The event begins at 6:00 p.m. and runs till 10:30 that night.   Activities include a dining experience from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. that includes a Hawaiian theme and a roasted pig.  

Zion National Park - Centennial Celebration - August 15

Zion National Park - Centennial Celebration

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A rodeo begins at 8:00 p.m. followed by a barn dance at 8:30 p.m.   ”Two Much Fun” is the featured band for the barn dance.    Tickets are $21.50 for adults and $10.00 for children 12 and under.  

Employees of Zion National Park will receive a discount.  

For details contact the resort at 800-293-5444.