Zion National Park
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Zion National Park is about 160 miles north east of Las Vegas, some 2.5 hour-drive. Established in 1909, the park features a 15-mile long, half-mile deep valley surrounded by huge chunks of reddish Navajo Sandstone. When I first got here, I was surprised that the place look strangely familiar. Then it hit me: it's where the classic western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, won 4 Academy Awards) was filmed. Following the trace of Butch and Sundance, how cool is that!
The thing about Zion is that you're at the bottom of a canyon, and you'll have to look up. The most dominant among the sandstones are the Three Patriarchs. The three rocks even got names: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The colors of sandstone range from white to creamy, to yellow, to red. The color is determined by the amount of iron oxide contained in the rocks. In the first two pix, the Great White Throne is so pale because over the years water flushing away the iron and bleaching the rock.
If one tell you the 15-mile long, half-mile deep Zion valley was carved by this mild, sluggish stream known as Virgin River, would you believe it? That's what the geologists said. Of course, this is a bit deceptive, since this is winter, when everything dries up. Most of the carving was done by floods in fact.
Examine the textures of the rocks closely, you'll probably agree that "carve" is the appropriate verb. In the last two pix is the Checkerboard Mesa near the east entrance. Neat patterns eh? Geologists figured out that the horizontal cuts were carved by wind-blown sands, while the vertical cuts were carved by freezing and thawing processes.
The steep sandstone cliff is the perfect playground for rock climbers (3 pix). In the last 2 pix, we can see the window of Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, a 1.1-mile long tunnel was dug through a mountain in the early 1900s, an engineering marvel.
A hike on Angel Landing Trial. Didn't get to the end because of lack of preparation. Pity.
Canyon Overlook Trial, overlooks the Pine Creek Canyon.
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