The Zion Park Scenic Byway (SR-9), is the road in and through Zion National Park, which never closes, except when we arrived because of a huge rock landslide. RV’s and buses must only travel this road when escorts are present due to the two tunnels and six tight switchbacks. Finally the road opened and we were able to drive the scenic byway up Pine Creek Canyon and through the tunnels. After the tunnel the highway continues through impressive scenery, past the Canyon Overlook and the unique Zion landmark, Checkerboard Mesa. The 25-mile long Zion-Mount Carmel Highway was built from 1927 to 1930 to connect Zion, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon, at a cost of $1,896,000. The tunnel by itself cost $503,000, and today they are a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks.
We arrived at the Zion Mountain Ranch, an authentic western lodge and a unique home of a roaming herd of buffalo, around 4 o’clock, too early for dinner. We made reservations for later and continued up the highway to see spectacular fall colors and to visit Cedar Breaks National Monument, a miniature Bryce Canyon. We were amazed at the brilliant colors of the Dixie National Forest surrounding Cedar Breaks providing lush alpine meadows clustered with ponderosa pines and quaking aspens as we drove along the road. Click on thumbnail to view images
We were even more surprised by the beauty and colors of Cedar Breaks, the “Circle of Painted Cliffs”, a natural amphitheater, stretching across 3 miles, with a depth of over 2,000 feet, and the elevation at the rim is over 10,000 feet, with stone spires, columns, arches, pinnacles, and intricate canyons in varying shades of red, yellow and purple. Cedar Breaks National Monument was established in 1933, and is well worth the visit. We left here and drove back to the Zion Mountain Ranch to have dinner at The Buffalo Grill, their on-site restaurant, with a cozy western atmosphere. Dinner was fabulous, a place to come back to and experience again.