Just through the tunnel we stopped for the restroom and a quick photo opportunity, which turned into a two mile hike because the steps up to the canyon view trail were so interesting. It was a trail along the side of the mountain, with some rails, some carved and placed steps, one bridge and the rest pretty much bare rock with a steep drop - and the most fabulous views. It was hot, sunny and huge fun. We stopped for more photos as we drove out of the east side of Zion including Checkerboard Mesa, which has horizontal and vertical grooves across it; if you were staying at Willow Glen in Cedar City, room 8 in the barn and you can't find your key, you left it at the viewpoint and we handed it in to the rangers ;-)
The road runs up and up into high bluffs and great views that are softer and less dramatic but still lovely. We stopped for coffee and a bacon lettuce avocado cheese tomato (BLACT?) on grilled sourdough at the Adobe Cafe in Hatch where the locals and friendly and the music is country. On with a fabulous view of the bluffs and the snowstorms, pausing in the snow at Red Canyon and then finding a room at the good old Best Western in Ruby on the road to the park (Lucy Wainwright Roche does a cover of a song about driving through the night, listening to the radio preaching hellfire and damnation until you get to the next Best Western). We drove on into the park (the shuttle service doesn't start till mid May) andout to Rainbow Point whihc is beautiful, with views that go on for more than a hundred miles and winds that chill you to the bone and then chill the bone. At over 9,000 feet up you could get hypothermia, sunburn and altitude sickness all at once.
Rainbow looks back down the park but you have to stop at every viewpoint to really see the rocks and canyons and hoodoo hoo-hah doodad rock spires (formed by frost wedging and as they won't last more than 3 million years the newsletter urges visitors to enjoy them while they can, along with a top ten reasons for accidents, with 3,2 and 1 being unsuitable footwear). Natural Bridge is actually an arch; Black Birch Canyon isn't black but it is lovely, with windows forming that will become hoodoos in time; and Sunset Point has fabulous views into the Bryce Amphitheatre, which is full or spires and pinnacles and hoodoos in red and cream sandstone, with more endless views out and out and out across open country. Again, snow in the air and flesh-stripping winds, so we headed back for dinner and wrestling with flickr's abnormally sensitive to intermittent networks uploader.