We headed out from the Grand Canyon and had to head south back to Flagstaff due to a road closure and then up to Zion. We came in from the east side on highway 9, the Zion Mt Carmel highway, which goes through the park. It has to be one of the most scenic stretches of road in the country.
It exits the park into the town of Springdale, a touristy place, full of motels, eateries and shops. We stopped at the park visitor's center and found the place swamped, no place to park, and people milling about all over the place. They have instituted a system of online tickets for the shuttle busses that go into Zion Canyon. These need to be purchased ahead of time and you get assigned a 1 hour time window to get on the bus. We got some for mid day for two days in a row.
The campgrounds in the park were all full, so we headed through town and down the road a ways to the Kolob Terrace Road, which leads through some BLM land and we found a good site to pitch our tent and set up camp. The next day we were up and into the park before daylight to get a parking place and did a hike on the Watchman Trail in the morning
and then got on the shuttle to go into the canyon at noon. We rode up to the north end of the canyon and to the Temple of Sinawava, sacred ground for the original indigenous people here. When riding up the canyon, it becomes evident that everything is vertical here. The canyon walls are straight up and very dramatic.
The road runs along the river that formed the canyon, and at the end a walk runs along the river up to the Narrows, where the canyon becomes only several yards wide. The big two things to do here are to walk up the narrows and walk to Angel's landing, When we reached the narrows, the place was infested with hipsters all doing the Narrows thing, all decked out in the waterboots and drysuits. It was like a herd of cattle all headed up the stream, just to check that item off their list. Another complication was the fact that the river, has a toxic algae growing in it that produces a neurotoxin that can be fatal if ingested. All of this caused us to take a pass on the Narrows thing. We hopped on a shuttle and went to the Emerald pools trails and had a nice walk there.
The next day, we were back early again for a walk on the Pa'rus Trail,
and then back on the shuttle at noon for a ride up the canyon to the Angel's Landing Trail.
This is an iconic walk up the wall of the canyon,
culminating in a scramble out a narrow ridge with chain handholds to a lofty perch with grand views of the canyon.
There were more than a few people who elected not to risk the climb with the attendant 1000 foot drop-offs, but plenty did make the trek.
Apparently people do fall off here but usually due to stupidity.
We were fortunate to score a backcountry permit to hike into the Kolob Canyon, in the less visited northern part of the park.
Our plan was to walk down the La Verkin Creek Trail 6 or 7 miles to our assigned campsite #10, and also visit the Kolob Arch while there.
We had a great walk in and very nice weather. The fall colors were in force
and added to the beauty of the canyon walls. We spent a good night serenaded by the rivers song and the next day got an early start to do the 1000 foot climb out of the canyon. We were up and out before 1 PM and rewarded ourselves with a couple of nights in the Zion Park Motel in Springdale.
We did a few more hikes over the next couple of days. One to Observation Point for spectacular views of the canyon
, Canyon Overlook Trail for another great view of the canyon
, and one to the Northgate Peaks off the Kolob Terrace Road. This is a truly spectacular place, but has been incredibly crowded. It seems a lot of people are here running around to check off doing sites on their bucket list or on some Trip Advisor list. Be sure to visit this place, but also be sure to allow enough time to appreciate the spectacular scenery and natural history of the place.
Most of all spend some time in reverence of the sacred ground of the original people of this place. The most that can be gained is from quiet contemplation here and not running from place to place taking selfies on a phone.
We are next off to Bryce Canyon and more adventures. Look for more pictures in the gallery.