Zion Tunnel-Mt Carmel Highway

October 25, 2014

We chose not to take the Phoenix through the Zion Tunnel. Even though it is shorter than most we were still large enough to require an escort. We figured it would be a long wait to get through so we saved the $15.00 escort fee and went the long way around to Zion and the campground.

Tunnel Switchbacks

Tunnel Switchbacks

However, we wanted to go through the tunnel and check out the park overlooks and trails on the other side so we did it in the Subaru. We needed a day to dry out our boots after hiking The Narrows so decided a drive was in order.

Nice View from Switchback Pull Out

Nice View from Switchback Pull Out

What we discovered is that they don’t have any room to pull over the RVs and Buses so each time one shows up at the tunnel, they stop all traffic in both directions and send them on through down the center line. Then they let traffic flow until there is another large vehicle approaching the tunnel. This must be evil during the summer. We waited about ten minutes for a large RV to come through from the other end and we could see an RV just a few cars behind us so traffic would only flow a few minutes before it was doomed to stopped again.

We had hoped to take pictures through the “galleries” on our way through but you aren’t allowed to stop and our camera couldn’t focus from dark to bright light quickly enough to capture anything… except the side of John’s head so we won’t post those. They kind of look like the “going into the white light” pictures of when you die. Definitely not posting them.

Swirling Sand Dunes

Swirling Sand Dunes

The parking for the Canyon Overlook trail was immediately on the other side of the tunnel and it was packed so we went on down to other overlooks and checked out the really cool rock formations.

Big Sand Dunes

Zion was part of a really big dessert, possibly the largest in the history of the world. So those 7,000 foot peaks are actually sand dunes that were compressed into sandstone. Big dunes.

Layers Bared

Layers Bared

You’ve probably seen sand blowing and drifting and swirling around at one time or another but this is sand frozen in time as it swirled and drifted.

Fractured Layers

Add in the coloration of different minerals and some erosion and you get really neat rock art.

Checkerboard Mesa

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