Early Saturday morning Kim and I headed for the airport to catch a flight to Salt Lake City, where I am currently sitting in a hotel room doing some work. Kim has been working the past few days in and around SLC. But before all of the work, we took the weekend to head down to southern Utah and check out Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. You may recall our trip last year to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, which are also in southern Utah but on the eastern side. Our trip this time took us into the western side of southern Utah.
After our arrival, we quickly got down to Zion as fast as we could. Once on the shuttle system, we immediately headed for the far end of the park and to the Riverside Walk. This is a simple paved trail that runs along the Virgin River. This wasn’t our goal of the hike though, as at the end of this trail is the Zion Narrows. Hiking the narrows requires you to actually wade through the river, which is surrounded by a narrow canyon on both sides. There is a full or multiple day, sixteen mile hike that you can do in the narrows, but we opted to just see a mile or so of the end. Since it was so hot out in the middle of the afternoon, walking through the chilly water was quite nice even though it was thigh deep at times.
After the Narrows, we headed for the trail that would lead us to Angels Landing, which is regarded as one of the best hikes in any national park. I wanted to wait until later in this day to avoid any potential crowds and the extreme heat, which worked pretty well. The hike starts off flat and paved, but soon enough enters switchback after switchback as you start climbing the near 1500 feet in elevation gain. After two miles you reach Scout Lookout, which seems to be an excellent place to view the canyon, but just wait until you ascend the last half mile out to Angels Landing.
This last section of the trail can be seen from Scout Lookout, and at first it scared the crap out of me. You can tell that parts of the trail are just a couple feet wide in parts, with steep cliffs on either side. Also some of the climb up the ridge is very steep and the park system has installed many chains along the route to assist with the climb. Being slightly afraid of heights, I wasn’t sure I could go on from the landing, so we sat there for a bit. Eventually a large butterfly flew past us, right along the ridge and up toward the landing. After my brother passed away, butterflies have held a special meaning to my family, so this was a sign to me that I should get off my butt and finish the hike. And I’m so glad that we did. The view from the top of Angels Landing is absolutely breathtaking, and words cannot describe it.
I hope that some of my pictures turned out well, and I will be sure to sort through them as soon as I get back to Denver. I would have to say that the Angels Landing hike was one of the coolest things I have ever done, if not the best. And overall, Zion is such an amazing place to visit. Even though I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, I’ve been told that Zion is the better of the two.