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Zen in Zion … or something

July 30, 2013

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds God’s people both now and forevermore. Psalm 125:1-2

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I’d never been to Zion National Park in southwestern Utah so I was excited to see a new park and hit a new state on our recent Western trip. It wasn’t until we were actually in Zion that I realized that whoever named Zion and its various mountains and formations, truly had religious significance in mind.

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Views along the road entering the park, including through an old tunnel.

In the 1860s, early Mormon pioneers arrived in the area. Even though the surrounding area is desert-like, the Virgin River flowing through the area and terraced ground made it habitable for these pioneers who settled the area and farmed the river terraces. So water, diverse vegetation, rich red formations and trees—and frequent azure skies make the park a colorful and vibrant sanctuary. Something to just enter, enjoy, and say little—letting the witness of the ages bless your spirit. The park literature used words like “haven” and “sanctuary,” and I like that. In that light, I’ll write less and mostly just post some of my favorite photos of the park.

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Aspen, cotton wood, fir and less common trees lined the river bottom. Part of the park is open to shuttle buses only (which are free) during the busy summer season (roughly spring through fall) which made meant none of us had to drive and we could just gaze and absorb.

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Court of the Patriarchs

Names of mountains or formations like Altar of Sacrifice, West Temple, Court of the Patriarchs, The Grotto, The Great White Throne, Temple of Sinawava, Mountain of Mystery, South Guardian Angle, Tabernacle Drive, all bring to mind Old Testament religious significance.

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We were able to follow Riverside Walk back what they call “The Narrows” where the canon gets, obviously, more and more narrow and the coolness of the rock allows climbers to test their endurance up its walls—and we were able to spy one such on a distant wall. Our own hike was not strenuous but I loved being able to really see some of the inner depths of the park. My park brochure says that “stratigraphy, the study of rock layers, reveals rocks formed in environments as varied as sand dunes and shallow sea bottoms.” The various layers of colors and lines all have significance in Zion.

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It was indeed a haven that I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to experience and share here, and to remember God’s promise, “The Lord surrounds God’s people both now and forevermore.

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View from our motel, Bumbleberry, in the nearby town of Springdale. I was delighted to find goats and chickens inviting me to talk to them. Mr. Squirrel was enjoying the remains of a peach in Zion Park.

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From → Faith, Family Life, Nature

3 Comments
  1. Isn’t Zion wonderful? I am glad it was so named! And I am glad you got to see some of Utah’s treasures. We have lived in Utah (SAlt Lake) for 5 year and still are exploring the wonders of the state. There is hardly a stretch of a drive that doesn’t make me want to stop and take a picture, and then there is the same scene looking completely different in each season.
    Come visit again!

    • I do think seeing Zion in different seasons has to be beautiful too –like snow? I wanted to go to Bryce but we felt there wasn’t time–and yes, Utah is an interesting state. Thanks for commenting–didn’t realize you were from St. Lake.

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