The first half of the trip was a loop taking in three amazing parks to the East of Vegas. The first, about 3 hours drive away, was Zion National Park. We arrived in the dark, and were quickly shooed away by a police officer, who to our surprise was really nice and actually gave us directions to a place were we could camp for free.

After our first of many nights in the car, we arrived at the gate at first light. We had to fork out $80 for the National Parks card to get entry. Although quite a sting to the budget, it is valid for all National Parks for a whole year, and looking back at how well the parks are maintained and the services provided, it’s great value, even for just the 8 days we could use it.

Zion itself was beautiful. A river valley between towering cliffs of amazing white, orange and yellow sandstone cliffs. To these cling gnarled trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, due to high water levels we weren’t able to do the Narrows Walk, which follows the river far into the canyon where it narrows to a water carved slot canyon. We did do several short walks, and the free shuttle bus really made it easy to see a lot of the park.

On the drive out the next morning we could see even more of the park as the road would through the arid but amazingly colourful rocky “slickrock” landscape.