Excited for our first day in Zion National Park, we arrived early parking our car at the Zion Human History Museum to catch a shuttle bus to the end of the paved shuttle route in the park. In Zion, the only way to tour the park is by shuttle bus, unless you are staying at one of the park lodges. 


Being July 4 and a Monday, our timing could not have been worse. Mobs of people everywhere. And, as any photographer knows, this is one of the worst times to go to a park, unless of course, you are taking pictures of people. Not the ideal situation, but I hoped to make the best of the day.


That in mind, Kristin and I headed to the end of the shuttle bus route hoping there would be fewer people heading to our destination - The Narrows. We soon realized how wrong we were, when our shuttle bus kept picking up more and more people along the route and fewer people were getting off the bus. But, we were still giddy as the bus drove down the tiny roadway among massive canyon walls ascending toward the sky. I quickly realized our challenge in Zion would be to see as much as we could of this park in such a short amount of time. 

The shuttle bus at the bottom of the cliffs.

As our bus made its way toward The Narrows, I noticed several “Don’t Feed the Animals” signs plastered on the sides of the buses. There was one I particularly enjoyed because the sign wasn’t your standard stick drawing of a hand feeding an animal with the universal symbol of a red line through a circle, meaning “don’t do this”. The sign had an actual photo of someone’s stitched up hand from an animal bite! How clever and clear about the dangers of feeding the animals.

And, with a $100 fine for feeding them, would it be worth it to feed them after looking at the stitched up hand? A resounding “No” should come out of every person’s mouth who sees that sign.

I chuckled to myself, pointed the sign out to Kristin and said laughing, “How much do you want to make a bet that we’ll see some fool feed the animals today?” No matter how many signs are put up, someone will ignore them and feed the animals.

When we arrived at the end of the shuttle route, we exited the bus with more than 50 people from our bus. We joined the 100+ people already at this stop. We quickly made our way down the Riverside Walk toward The Narrows. When we arrived at the end where the path meets the Virgin River, there were people everywhere. The sky also had turned gray, so capturing a good photograph wasn’t going to happen.


We decided to take a break, have a little snack, do a little people watching and figure out what to do next. We each had a plastic bag filled with snacks. We both found a sitting spot on the riverbed rocks of the Virgin River and started eating our snacks. 


And then, we both noticed there were people watching us. We couldn’t figure out why, but perhaps they were jealous that we had packed snacks? I dismissed their eyes and tried to enjoy my snacks and the view of the Virgin River at the bottom of towering cliffs. The bag in my hand crinkled each time I retrieved a small bite.


Then I realized people weren’t watching us, they were watching the Rock Squirrels. They weren’t sneaking up on us, they were blatantly looking for us to feed them!

That’s me and a Rock Squirrel.


Then, the Rock Squirrels ventured closer. That’s Kristin and her new friend, Rock, the squirrel.


And Rock decided that watching Kristin eat from that spot he was at earlier wasn’t good enough, so he jumped onto her lap!


In the back of my mind, I wondered if we’d be fined if the Rock Squirrels were stealing our food from us!


And, the entire time, visions of the stitched up hand on that sign kept flashing through my head, of course, while I took photographs to document our visit from Rock and his friends.


In the end, Kristin was able to get Rock off her lap when I took her bag of food from her. We decided to stand while eating the rest of our snacks.


Looking back, our lunch with Zion’s Rock Squirrels foreshadowed the Arizona leg of our trip.