Driving about 85 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking about 1.5 mile roundtrip, approximately 1.5 hours; mostly paved, slight uphill walk to Lower Emerald Pool.
In the hotel restaurant, the breakfast buffet offers a variety of hot and cold items plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.
After loading up luggage, we’ll leave Bryce for the scenic drive to Zion National Park. Along the way we’ll drive through stunning Red Canyon — once a haunt for Butch Cassidy and his gang — as we journey to the slickrock country on the eastern edge of Zion National Park. Continuing with a stop at Checkerboard Mesa, we’ll then drive through the Zion Tunnels and down the switchbacks into Zion Canyon carved by the North Fork of the Virgin River. Spectacular Checkerboard Mesa is a massive petrified sand dune with horizontal layers laid down in the Jurassic Period and vertical cracks formed during weather over millions of years. While here with our Group Leader, we’ll discuss the reason it is called Checkerboard Mesa, talk about the plants growing at this elevation, and learn how things differ from the lower elevations in the park. The Zion Tunnels were built during the 1920s through solid sandstone walls with views through the "galleries" out to the Pine Creek Valley.
At the Switchback Grill just outside of Zion National Park, we’ll choose what we like from the tasty lunch buffet with coffee, tea, lemonade, milk, water included. Enjoy spectacular views of the magnificent surroundings.
Moving on, we’ll travel to the Visitor Center at Zion National Park where we’ll see a large-scale 3-D map of the park for an overview of where we'll be exploring. We’ll then board our vehicle and enter the park and travel to the Zion Lodge inside Zion Canyon. Nestled at the base of stunning canyon walls, the grounds of the Zion Lodge invite people to linger among its shady cottonwood trees and grassy field. At the Lodge, your Group Leaders will give an overview of the area and offer activities at one or more locations. Activities may include walking the Lower Emerald Pools Trail, the Grotto Trail, or a historic walk around the Zion Lodge.
At the Porters, in the heart of the town of Springdale, we’ll have plated meals with soft drinks, coffee, tea, milk, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
After dinner, we will meet to discuss free time options in the park. Your Group Leader will provide park information and shuttle maps to the group. We will discuss how the shuttle system operates and orient the group to the many highlights, viewpoints, trails and feature in the park. Your Group Leader will also discuss tomorrow’s dining options for dinner on your own.