Zion National Park is located in Southwestern Utah, close to the Nevada and Arizona borders. The main feature of this park is the Zion Canyon, a canyon 15 miles long and up to half mile deep, surrounding by large sandstone mountains. At the end of the Zion Canyon, there is the Zion Narrows, a gorge that at one point is as narrow as 20 feet wide but 2,000 feet tall. The east entrance to the park goes through the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, which is a winding road that cuts through rocky surroundings and then descends into the canyon.

The first time I visited Zion was during a weekend road trip with my brother when we went from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon National Park, and continued north to southern Utah to visit Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Parks. The drive through the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway was interesting enough, not knowing what to expect to see when started descending into the Zion Canyon. That’s when we were awestruck seeing the tall mountains around us (and realizing how small we were in comparison). We parked our car at the Visitor Center and took the shuttle bus to the Zion Canyon (that’s the only motorized vehicle allowed into the canyon). At one point of the ride, our driver slowed down and pointed us to a vertical cliff of one of the mountains. There were two specs in the middle — a couple of mountain climbers on their way up. They had been climbing since the day before, and it would take them at least another day to reach the top.

The photo below was taken during my second visit to Zion on another road trip with two of my cousins. We stopped after driving down the canyon on the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway to pause and enjoy the scenery around us. On this photo you could see my cousin in the bottom middle part of the photo looking at the mountains around him. He’s about 5’6″ in height, but in this photo he looked quite small in comparison to the surrounding mountains.

Zion National Park

Mount Rainier

A couple of days after visiting Crater Lake, I went on a road trip with my family north from Oregon to Washington State. We spent several days sightseeing with Seattle as our base. On one of the days, we went on a day trip to Mount Rainier National Park which is located only around 60 miles away from Seattle. Mount Rainier is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States with summit elevation around 14,400 feet. It is also considered as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, given that it’s still active and its location that is close to largely populated areas. On a clear day, if you’re in Seattle-Tacoma metro area, Mount Rainier would dominate the southeastern horizon view from the city.

We spent our time in the park mostly driving around the loop road to enjoy the mountain scenery. Given that we had a large group of people (around 20 people in four cars) and varying age and level of fitness, we didn’t do any physical activity like hiking or long walks. But since most of the family members came from Indonesia, it was still a treat for them to be able to get high enough in altitude and even during the summer month they could enjoy the fresh mountain air and saw the snow-covered peaks.

The photo below was taken during the drive in the park. You could see the prominent peak of Mount Rainier in the distance.

Mount Rainier