There is an art to arriving at Zion National Park in time for a parking spot. Today, I failed. I arrived at 9 a.m. and all the parking spaces were full (or too far from a shuttle stop). Since I was by myself today, I decided to stick to the Zion – Mt Carmel Highway drive.
The drive involves two tunnels: a main tunnel that is 1.1 miles long and a much shorter tunnel. There are several places to pull off in your vehicle, both before and after the main tunnel. Watch the road signs carefully – every time I’ve done this drive, there is a wait to get through the main tunnel on either side. Despite being a two lane road through the tunnel, they only let one lane go through the tunnel at a time. The road sign will warn you that traffic may be stopped, don’t speed through this drive.
Before the main tunnel
There is no stopping in the main tunnel, so once you get to the other side, check out the waysides all the way to the East Rim entrance.
After the main tunnel
Some of the waysides on the passenger side were full as I drove down the highway, so I made the decision to check them out on the way back. I drove all the way to the Checkerboard Mesa viewpoint (which is the first viewpoint if you come into the park from the east) and started working my way back.
More amazing views & details
Since we are in the area until mid-August, I will go back to Zion at least a couple more times. And I will definitely get there earlier! I like being able to park in the park at the visitor’s center and take the shuttle.