Today’s high in Zion National Park will be around 100 degrees. That’s about 25 degrees hotter than when we were there in April and our only concern was avoiding sunburn. I’m amazed that hundreds of thousands of people manage to hike and climb these canyons in the summer heat. Also very jealous.
Southern Utah’s rugged landscape is unlike any place I’ve ever been. There’s so much beauty everywhere it’s ridiculous. I forgive them their black bears, rattlesnakes and mountain lions (only because we didn’t encounter any).
Wouldn’t you love to wake up here?
We had 2 days in Zion and arrived excited to hike every single trail or at least as far as our feet could take us. The Narrows, a river hike through the narrowest stretch of the canyon, was closed on day 1 due to heavy rain the previous day.
We hiked the 8-mile out and back to Observation Point instead, figuring there were no wrong answers. I was very glad for my up-before-dawn vacation habit. Thanks, me. Once the sun caught up, there was very little shade on this trail.
My favorite section was the stretch through Echo Canyon. Passing through feels like you’ve wandered into another world and you don’t want to leave. Too soon, the trail puts your legs to work over countless switchbacks with endless views. Linger in the canyon for a bit.
This was our reward after 4 strenuous miles and 2300 feet of elevation gain. Not a bad lunch spot so long as you’re able to fend off squirrels with no respect for personal space.
There’s Angel’s Landing down below.
Going up wasn’t too bad, but coming down without a walking stick was rough. Because my blistered feet were big babies we didn’t take the side trip to Hidden Canyon on our way down. Next time. Soon.
I recommend this hike if you get an early start and aren’t in any kind of rush. Bring way more water than you think you’ll need. Wear lots of sun screen and a hat.
The Narrows was open on day 2. A ranger told us they have to close it for 24 hours once the water reaches a certain level as flash floods are a threat. Apparently flash floods are always possible, though much more so during and after rain.
That said, the Narrows is a cool hike. We started around 9 am and thought it was maybe noon when we made it back to the shuttle stop. Nope. Try 4 pm. This was our day and we loved it. There was no place else in the world I wanted to be.
The Virgin River is Zion Canyon’s primary source of erosion. It has millions of years of epic carving experience, with the help of a rock avalanche, and it continues to carve. You get to hike in this river, feel it, hear it. See what it’s done and where it takes you.
In April, water levels mostly ranged from mid-calf to waist high. The current was strong and like most people we waded from rocky beach to rocky pockets.
A few hours in we reached a side canyon. The river goes on and on but you have to turn around at some point. The current was with us going back. I assumed this would make it easier, but the slippery rocks and rushing water knocked me on my bum a few times.
Having never worn neoprene socks before, I didn’t know my feet would magically feel wet the whole time. Swishing around in cool water wet. I decided the price of waterlogged feet was worth the hike, until the hike was over and then I regretted that decision and dreaded taking off the socks. I fully expected to find squishy wrinkled scary unrecognizable pruney flesh where my feet should be. Happy to report I still have feet. The rented gear kept us totally dry.
It was a dream to hike in Zion. Aside from all of the obvious reasons I didn’t think about bears one time. As with our Acadia trip, I told myself there were no bears in Zion. As with Acadia, there are black bears in Zion. I lied and happily believed the lie.
I was hoping to see bighorn sheep and we did. One morning there they were making their way down to cross the road. Out for a morning hike.