Accidentally driving through Monument Valley was not enough surprise for our day. En route to Springdale, Utah to see Zion National Park, my husband and I approached the town from the east, later realizing that we are on Zion-Mount Carmel Highway after hooking with Utah State Route 9 from Federal Highway 89. The Zion Park Scenic Byway or Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is known as one of the most beautiful scenic drives in America and we are ultimately thrilled. It is also as equally dangerous as it is as beautiful.
THE SCENIC ZION-MOUNT CARMEL HIGHWAY
Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 because of its significance in the fields of tourism and engineering. The highway is a 25-mile long road in Utah with a 1.1 mile long tunnel designed with a series of windows carved though the tunnel’s side. One of my challenges during the drive was holding the camera and fighting the fear of falling at the same time. The route is plenty with curves, and its winding roads are nearly at the edge of the cliffs as high as 3000-5000 feet with no guard rails! I also do not react very well with long tunnels.
And I learned that filming and shrieking in fear is like eating cereal with orange juice. They don’t compliment.
While the drive seemed hazardous, the views were astounding! Nothing defines breathtaking more than this jewel in the West! The drive showcased bright colors of its mesa, canyons and cliffs carved on sand stones. Zion surely knows how to welcome its visitors.
We arrived safely in Springdale perfectly timed at dusk. I thought our hotel in Moab has the most beautiful view, but Springdale proved me wrong. In all of our travels, this hotel is the most dramatic. The hotel is literally surrounded by rock formations. We can even view the sandstone cliffs by simply looking out of our room window!
Springdale was originally a seasonal camping ground for the Paiute Indians but the place was settled by Mormons in 1862 who farmed the area and named it Zion which means “a place of refuge”. It had remained an isolated farming community until the formation of Zion National Park in 1919. It is now one of the top 10 most visited national parks in the United States. The last census (2010) showed a full-time population of only 529!! It was early winter during our visit and the town seemed quieter than we expected but we were warned how swarmed Springdale is in summer.
I can definitely see myself growing old here but hubby said there was no Asian store nearby. Hmm, we have two days more to spend here in Zion National Park. That should be enough time to reconsider my proposition.