kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Zion National Park, Utah

This is the 7th and final installment of my Utah National Parks series. We concluded our two-week tour across southern Utah at spectacular Zion National Park.

Zion offers some incredible awe-inspiring vistas, no doubt about it. But I have to say it was my least favorite park for only one reason. People. Too many people. Oh, the crowds. I'm not kidding when I say Zion felt like a nature-based amusement park. There are rides -- cars are not permitted in most of the park, so visitors get around on buses. And there are lines to stand in -- for the buses, the rest rooms, at the visitor center. And assuming you enjoy hiking, there are LOTS of things to see and do, for all ages and skill levels.

Speaking of skill and stamina, here and there throughout our trip, Bob and the boys would want to tackle a hike a bit too strenuous for mom. And I was fine with that. At Zion, they hiked the steep Angels Landing Trail. Not suited for those with vertigo or a fear of heights! As hikers near the summit, they cling to these chains, lest they lose their balance and topple off the narrow rim.

They made it to the top!

While the guys hiked Angels Landing, I took my own pleasant lovely hike.

Look closely, you can see horses crossing the stream.

We had a bit of drama and excitement that day. Just as my guys ascended Angels Landing Peak, dark clouds moved in, and what started out as a beautiful sunny day soon became ominous.

I had finished my hike and got off a bus at the park museum when it started to sprinkle. A shower soon became a downpour with thunder and lightning. And my guys were on top of a mountain, out of cell phone range. Zion is known for being prone to flash flooding, so there was reason for concern.

Soon the buses stopped running due to flooding of some of the roadways in the park. Now even if the guys got safely off the mountain, there was no way to return to the campground. And I was stuck at the museum. This was my view.

All I could do was pray for their safety. Calm quiet creeks quickly turned into raging torrents like this.

Eventually, the buses resumed service and I hurried back to the campground and waited. After a time, my men returned, soaking wet and tired. We all piled into our tent, which fortunately did not leak, and while they napped, I thanked God for their safe-keeping.

The next day, Andrew and Bob set off on an excursion Andrew had been eagerly anticipating from the beginning -- hiking "the Narrows," or basically hiking a stream through a slot canyon. Not easy to slog through all that water, but they saw some cool sights. At times, the water was chest high. Bob wasn't taking photos during those parts.This hike can be particularly dangerous in a flash flood situation and can only be attempted on days when no rain is predicted.

Eric opted not to get wet and spent the day hiking with me. On dry land. We saw some beautiful sights, too.

So that concludes my series on our Utah National Park tour. It was by far our best family vacation to date. What has been your favorite family vacation?