October 15 – 17, 2014. Post by Ravi.
After our trip to the Grand Canyon, we were looking forward to continued warm weather. While it was hot down low IN the Grand Canyon, up HIGH on the Grand Canyon Rim was breezy and cold.
Our plan was to spend about a month exploring southern Utah, and its FIVE national parks! I never realized there was so much to do in Utah until I looked at the road atlas and saw all the green splotches (denoting National Park, Monuments and protected wilderness areas).
We camped on the western side of the park, at a private campground that didn’t cost much ($15/night), had hot showers, plenty of space, nice scenery along a canyon wall, very slow Wi-Fi and a cool general store and cafe with wood fired pizza (it supposedly had the #3 best pizza in all Utah, according to whom I never found out). We ended up staying there four nights. The campground inside the National Park was nice, but very crowded (and full when we got there), and we appreciated our showers (the park camp had none).
Alison and I took turns venturing around the park, while the other stayed with the dogs at the campground. Neither of us did the “Angels Landing” hike, which is the #1 most popular hike to do there. It is also a death-wish, as it proceeds along the knife edge of a sandstone fin almost a thousand feet above the canyon floor. Lots of people do it, including people who shouldn’t (young, old, overweight, etc…), and worst of all, there was always a long line of people waiting to crawl along the trail sing a fixed rope…recipe for disaster. We both hiked partway up the trail, and watched the mayhem. Nobody fell.
Alison ventured around several other trails, while I spent more time in the visitor center reading stuff and doing a longer out and back hike along the West Rim Trail.
If we had our act together and got permits, we could have done the “Subway” or “The Narrows” hikes that take you through narrow slot canyons and involve wading and at times swimming along creeks….but we didn’t want to put the pups in a kennel and were quite turned off with the massive numbers of people crammed into Zion.
The shuttle buses (which you pretty much need to take to see the park, as the canyon road is closed to cars) are packed all day, and the trails are just the same. There are parts of Zion that are peaceful, but you will need to hike into the backcountry to find it (or go to the Kolob Canyons area in the northwest corner of the park, about an hours drive from the visitors center).
After three nights and four days, much of which was filled with relaxing at the campground, we packed up and headed off for Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reed National Park.