3 weeks road trip in west USA - Zion National Park
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Zion National Park is located in the Southwestern United States, near Springdale, Utah. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (590 km2) park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest elevation is 3,666 ft (1.117 m) at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 ft (2.660 m) at Horse Ranch Mountain. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park's unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity.
Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park's four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches.
Human habitation of the area started about 8,000 years ago with small family groups of Native Americans; the semi-nomadic Basketmaker Anasazi stem from one of these groups. In turn, the Virgin Anasazi culture (500 CE) developed as the Basketmakers settled in permanent communities. A different group, the Parowan Fremont, lived in the area as well. Both groups moved away by 1300 and were replaced by the Parrusits and several other Southern Paiute subtribes. Mormons came into the area in 1858 and settled there in the early 1860s.
In 1909, U.S. President William Howard Taft named the area a National Monument to protect the canyon under the name of Mukuntuweap National Monument. In 1918, however, the acting director of the newly created National Park Service changed the park's name to Zion.
The geology of Zion canyon area includes 9 formations that together represent 150 million years of mostly Mesozoic-aged sedimentation. At various periods in that time warm, shallow seas, streams, ponds and lakes, vast deserts, and dry near-shore environments covered the area. Uplift associated with the creation of the Colorado Plateaus lifted the region 10,000 feet (3.000 m) starting 13 million years ago.
Between the 13th of May and the 3rd of June 2013 we spent 3 wonderful weeks in the west part of USA. It was our first trip in this part of USA, and each day was full of surprises, with countless breathtaking landscapes.
After 3 days in San Francisco, Sausalito, and on the north coast, we made a flight to Las Vegas, to began our long road trip (3.000 miles i.e. 4.800 km and more than 70 hours driving on the wonderful scenic roads from one park to another). We had the pleasure to discover the following sites :
- Grand Canyon National Park, (the south rim part only)
- the Colorado canyon at Lees Ferry, the Vermillion Cliffs on the road to Cliff Dwellers
- the area of the city of Page (with the visit of the 2 Antelope Canyons Navajo Tribal Parks, the Lake Powell, and Horseshoe Bend,
- Monument valley NP (with an afternoon spent in the Mystery Valley trails with a Navajo guide driving a Jeep Wrangler)
- Arches NP
- Canyonlands NP
- Bryce canyon NP
- Zion NP
- Death Valley NP
- Bodie State Historic Park
- Mono Lake
- Yosemite NP and Maropisa Grove NP near Wawona
- the Napa valley with a visit of the Newton winery (LVMH group)
- we did a balloon flight over the vineyards
- and we stayed 2 mores days in San Francisco before leaving this great city to go back to France.
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