The Tunnel. One of the tidbits I read before coming to Zion National Park was that if you don’t do anything else, you must drive the tunnel. I thought, “Okay, we’ll drive the tunnel” having no idea what that meant. This tunnel is like nothing you’ve ever seen.
A Fear of Heights
Actually, I think I can safely say that Zion is like nothing we’ve ever seen and pictures do not even begin to capture the magnitude of what our eyes and brain continually try to take in. I should add right here that (sadly) I have a fairly profound fear of heights. Not only if I am up high, but also if I am on the ground and surrounded by tall buildings (or in this case huge walls of rock). I have to hold on to something to study myself as it makes me feel off-balanced. It really sucks, but there you have it.
I’ve worked for years to talk myself through things but sometimes the physical senses outweigh the mind. I say all this because by the time we reached the entrance to the tunnel my palms were literally moist. I had a death grip on the car seat arm rest, which may give you an idea of the surrounding environment. Fortunately, Abi was driving and he has no such fears.
The Tunnel of Zion
At this bend in the road, pictured above, there is a pull out where one can stop and read a sign that describes the building of the tunnel. The tunnel and Mt. Carmel highway were built in the 1920’s to connect Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyons. Abi and I could not figure out what we were looking at because this hole is very finished with a rock wall. We were thinking, “Was this the entrance to the tunnel and after they stopped using it nature took over again?” The sign was no help either and we were feeling a little dense. We just couldn’t see how this was the entrance to a tunnel.
We continued up the two-lane switchback road (with drop off edges and no guard rails) and then there it was, the entrance to the tunnel and it was pitch black inside. I mean, seriously, pitch black. Every now and then there was a “window” and a burst of light. With a quick look we could see views of the sheer cliffs we were driving through. Cool, huh? Uh, no, my palms are getting sweaty just thinking about it.
For someone like me, it is like being in an elevator, inside a building, and then having the elevator shoot out in to the open day and you find out you’re actually in an outdoor elevator attached to the side of a building. True story.
Turns out, the hole in the cliff face that we saw from the road below, was one of those windows.
Holding My Breath
Again, our photos don’t begin to capture the awe-inspiring enormity of these cliffs, they are truly magnificent. As with many things, I choke down my angst and come out the other side, in this case literally the other side of the mountain and then bask in the splendor. I think Zion should probably be on everyone’s bucket list.
Tomorrow, we head to Bryce Canyon National Park and guess what? To get to Bryce I will once again experience the
panic exhilaration of having to drive through the tunnel where most likely I’ll be holding my breath as we climb the switchbacks and pass through the black tunnel. I’ve been told Bryce is well-worth it. Here’s hoping!
I love you Monkey Sister, but I’ll never forget that moment! 🙂
That moment on the elevator taught me your fear is real.
You going through the tunnel is a big deal. Proud of you.
Can’t wait to read what you do next.
Wow, firstly, well done for facing your fears. This place looks incredible – I love the way you can just drive out to the tunnel windows!
We had to drive through the tunnel again today in order to get to the highway to Bryce Canyon. That makes 4 in/out times now and while it is definitely intense, I was much more at ease by the 3rd time. There are actually 3 windows, the other 2 are much smaller and much harder to spot in the cliff wall. Cars cannot stop inside the tunnel so you just pass by the openings “windows” as you drive. Quick glimpses as you pass by. The tunnel is 1.1 miles in length so we’re guessing the the openings are to allow light and air and they were probably a part of the construction site. It truly is amazing!