Our drive to Zion National Park was scenic and dramatic. The drama was mostly in the skies. It rained a great deal of the way but as we neared Zion, the skies darkened more and we worried that it would be a difficult drive on Route 9 through the park east to west in order to get to our hotel room. The description of Route 9 in the tour book mentioned hairpin turns and narrow roads.
Several times as we neared the park, the rain poured down and slowed traffic. Once we neared the east entrance though it seemed to abate. The park ranger looked at our pass, gave us our maps, and said to be careful because there was the possibility of flooding. Little did we know that we would be some of the last people through that route for the day.
There were two tunnels to go through as well as lots and lots of curves and switchbacks. We had to stop once so we could take a picture of a waterfall that was obviously just water running over the side of a cliff due to the downpours. After that though, we thought it best to make our way as quickly and safely as possible to our hotel, the Cable Mountain Lodge.
When we arrived at the Lodge, we watched with amazement as the Virgin River was roaring past the parking lot and looking quite menacing. Receiving our keys to our room, we walked around to find that there was no way to get too it. Water was more than ankle deep in front of the room. We returned and received a new room assignment but had to walk through wet slushy grass to get to the door since the sidewalk was flooded.
We decided that we wouldn’t carry our luggage in until we were sure the whole place wasn’t going to flood. The river was still rising. We ventured out to find food and farther up the road, we found Blondie’s Diner and had a great lunch. When what we needed for breakfast in our room wasn’t available at the local convenient stores, we decided to head for a nearby town that was a bit bigger. By nearby, I mean a half hour away. The nice thing was that just ten minutes up the road, it wasn’t raining and by the time we returned, the rain had subsided and so had the flooding a bit.
The Lodge has a large screen movie theater (almost IMAX size) on its campus along with several restaurants and gift shops. The movie that highlights Zion Canyon is called Treasure of the Gods and is a 40 minute film that features the myths and history of the canyon. That afternoon, we enjoyed some popcorn and the story of the area’s settlement and some of the legend that goes with the Zion canyon area.
By the time we were done at the movie, the rain had stopped and we noticed the river seemed to be going down a bit. We carried our luggage in and settled into our room.
All told, the reports said that we got two inches of rain in Springdale within about five hours and the Virgin River had risen seven and a half feet. The park closed Route 9 for most of the afternoon and evening. We felt fortunate to have a room and not be caught with nowhere to stay but we worried that our ride with a ranger in the morning might be canceled. We’d find out in the morning.