The next morning (Friday, though it’s getting hard to keep track) we packed up and got ready to leave Jacob Lake. I birded a little before breakfast, but didn’t have anything new. By the time I got to the hotel restaurant, Robin, Hamner, and Peggy were already there and had ordered coffee. Still, I was in time to get my breakfast order in with everyone else. In a few minutes their food came, and the waitress apologized and said mine would be right out. She said that several more times as everyone else ate, and finally I got tired of sitting around and left. Apparently Robin talked to the manager afterward and they got their breakfast for free; fortunately, after the way we’ve been eating on this trip, I could afford to skip a meal.
Our destination for the day was Panguitch, Utah, where we’d be close to Bryce Canyon, but on the way we planned to make a side trip to Zion National Park. It’s a hell of a drive into the park, with great scenery of cliffs and gorges, switchbacks, even a mile-long tunnel through the rock. All of this in an increasingly congested line of traffic, and finally once inside the park, there was noplace to park the car — signs told us to exit the park to the west and park in Springdale. We did that and took the shuttle bus back in. The park consists of lots of spires, cliffs, and mesas cut by the Virgin River, and unless you’re going to hike very strenuously or climb rocks, you’re pretty much limited to the narrow Virgin River valley. It’s a beautiful perennial stream in the desert vegetation, where I’d hoped to see quite a few bird species – including possibly American Dipper.
Unfortunately, in the middle of the day on Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, hiking the Riverside Trail was not much of a birding experience. If you stopped to look at something, it was like parking in the middle of the interstate. The flow of foot traffic was constant and loud — one guy even had a boom box.
We once again dipped on the dippers. And again, it seems that Black Phoebes really like to hang out where dippers should be.
After some light hiking and a lot of riding the shuttle bus, we had dinner at the Zion Canyon Brew Pub and headed for Panguitch. On the way out of the park we did get one mammal lifer — a bighorn sheep standing on the roadside just a few feet away.