Zion National Park

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.

– Ravi

It is tough to find good beer in Utah, with their strict liquor laws...but Moab Brewery IPA was a solid choice...though it is limited at 3.2% alcohol when purchased at a grocery store.
It is tough to find good beer in Utah, with their strict liquor laws…but Moab Brewery IPA was a solid choice…though it is limited at 3.2% alcohol when purchased at a grocery store.
Duke rolled up in his "taco"...a combo of blankets to keep him warm at night! The temps would dip down into the mid 30's at night.
Duke rolled up in his “taco”…a combo of blankets to keep him warm at night! The temps would dip down into the mid 30’s at night.
Approaching Zion...amazing colors.
Approaching Zion…amazing colors.
Alison spotted this Big Horn Sheep while driving out the east side of the park!
Alison spotted this Big Horn Sheep while driving out the east side of the park!

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Crazy crown of people waiting to go up the final mile of Angels Landing....some crazy parents went up there with 5-7 year old kids.
Crazy crown of people waiting to go up the final mile of Angels Landing….some crazy parents went up there with 5-7 year old kids.

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Lots of switchbacks going up to Angels Landing...the first two miles are an uphill slog, then the trail branches out to a death-defying traverse....neither Alison nor I chose to do that....we just hiked to the junction and watched the crazy people clamber out to the edge....and also many turn around!
Lots of switchbacks going up to Angels Landing…the first two miles are an uphill slog, then the trail branches out to a death-defying traverse….neither Alison nor I chose to do that….we just hiked to the junction and watched the crazy people clamber out to the edge….and also many turn around!
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Hiking along the West Rim Trail, past Angels Landing turnoff.

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Past the Angels Landing Trail is the West Rim Trail....with very cool scenery and hardly any crowds. Lots of people were backpacking from the northwest corner of the park to the main park area along this trail.
Past the Angels Landing Trail is the West Rim Trail….with very cool scenery and hardly any crowds. Lots of people were backpacking from the northwest corner of the park to the main park area along this trail.
Look at the line of people! Disaster waiting to happen if you ask me.
Look at the line of people going up Angels Landing! Disaster waiting to happen if you ask me.
Look closely to see the line of people waiting to go up the final half mile of Angel's Landing.
Look closely to see the line of people waiting to go up the final half mile of Angel’s Landing.
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Polished sandstone along the West Rim Trail.
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Cool canyon vista along the West Rim Trail. Reminded me of Yosemite’s rounded domes, but with streaks of orange and red.

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Leathery look of the sandstone high up on the West Rim Trail (past Angel's Landing)
Leathery look of the sandstone high up on the West Rim Trail (past Angel’s Landing)
Having fun with the settings on my camera...
Having fun with the settings on my camera…
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Looking down into the canyon, after walking a mile up the Angels Landing Trail.

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There were not a ton of wildflowers out (you need to visit in July/August for that) but a few were hanging on...
There were not a ton of wildflowers out (you need to visit in July/August for that) but a few were hanging on…
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A strong flowing creek traveled through Zion Canyon, amazing to think that this stream, over a million years, has carved out this entire canyon.

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