This wonderful area was originally called by its Indian name Mukuntuweap when it was designated a National Monument by President Taft in 1909. When it was taken over by the newly formed National Parks Service in 1918 they adopted the name used by the Mormon settlers, to whom this green and fertile haven, with giant rock formations in which they saw a Watchman, a Shrine, an Angel’s Landing, must indeed have seemed like a new Jerusalem.
The only trouble is that its deserved fame makes it is too popular and crowded. May is peak time for flowers, and this was a weekend, but the clever arrangements to cope with the huge influx of visitors were challenged.
Cars are rigidly excluded and everything is done by shuttle buses which are free with the entry permit, but often crowded.
On the evening of our arrival we did the Riverside Walk which was crowded, very hot, and frankly disappointing. And the river was too full to make the Narrows beyond passable.
But this morning we made an early start, planning to join a Ranger-led walk up the Watchman Trail starting at 8.30. That was almost too early for the shuttle for the two miles through Springdale to the Park entrance, so we decided to use the car. Mistake. I cut it too fine and we found ourselves at the end of a long, static queue waiting to get into the park with five minutes to go.
However, we seized an opportunity, doubled across to the other side of the road and into a space on the soft shoulder. Arriving at the Visitor Centre only a couple of minutes late we were told the party was already off up the trail. So we stormed off up with me going ahead to try to catch them up. Talking to other walkers we caught up, however, and some coming down it gradually became apparent that we must be ahead of them. So we slowed right down to enjoy the wonderful flowers…
…and the splendid views…
… and eventually passed the guided walk coming up when we were well on the way down.
After an indulgent break back at the Holiday Inn we went back into the Park, properly on the Springdale shuttle and then five stops up the Canyon on the internal shuttle to the Kayenta Trail. This joined up with the Emerald Pools trail and made a superb one way walk of about 3½ moderate miles.
So we ducked the high and hairy Angel’s Landing, although we could see the tiny figures at the top with our binoculars.
Back to Jack’s Sports Bar next to the hotel for a relatively inexpensive but excellent salad, followed by apple pie and icecream while watching baseball, drag-racing, wrestling, and ice hockey on no less than ten screens. Very friendly and really interesting and educational.