After my hike off Mt Whitney and a warmer night at a much lower altitude it was time to continue the adventures, so off to Zion National Park I went! This necessitated another drive through Death Valley, but that went pretty quickly and I was able to go through in the morning before it got too hot! I stopped by the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, a nice balmy 113 at 9:30AM!
Rolled into Zion about 3:30 (lost an hour), and after a bit of a line to get into the Park I pulled up to my spot in the Watchman Campground. It’s a pretty nice campground, easy walk to the restrooms and the Visitor’s Center where the shuttles leave to take you into the canyon. Like most places in Zion the views are excellent!
After getting all set up and relaxing for a bit, I hopped the shuttle into the canyon to scope out the start of tomorrow’s hikes and look around. First I rode the bus to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava and took the Riverwalk Trail to the mouth of the Narrows, an easy mostly paved trail. After that I did a quick scoping out of the stop for the Angel’s Landing hike and then back to camp for the evening.
Woke up about 5:30 the next morning, made myself the standard outdoor breakfast – oatmeal and peanut butter! After a nice breakfast and cup of coffee I made my way over the the shuttle stop and was able to get on a little after 6am and took it to the Angel’s Landing trailhead. The bus was full but I still have no idea how so many people could be on the trail that early. I’ve never been on such a crowded trail!
The first section is pretty much all switchbacks up a steep cliffy area, but also paved and curbed, very nice, but steep.
After climbing to the notch, you are rewarded with an excellent respite, Refrigerator Canyon. It feels relatively cool and you cruise along a flat quiet canyon!
Up next is Walter’s Wiggles, aka some more switchbacks! Built in 1926 by the original park superintendent, this constructed path leads up to Scout Lookout and the beginning of the chains.
A lot of people just make it to Scout Lookout, cool view and pretty strenuous hike. I was still surprised at the number of people on the lower chain section. I know it’s an iconic Zion hike but it was ridiculous and I started hiking at 6:45am, can’t imagine 9. (Entire cable section video at bottom, even just first few minutes gives you a good idea of the crowds)
Fortunately the crowd really thinned out on the upper cables as you climb the rib of rock to the top. This was the best part of the hike, awesome views and a little exposure.
As you get to the top you head along the ridge to the far edge and some amazing views of the canyon! There were probably 30 people up there when I was there, so I took my pics and went back along the ridge a little bit and found a nice place to chill and grab a snack.
Heading down I was lucky to get together with 6 or 7 people moving pretty quickly. It’s a challenge to get past all the uphill traffic, but banding together in groups moving fairly up and down helps a lot.
After getting back down to Scout Lookout, I hustled back down towards the Emerald Pools.
My plan was to get to Upper Emerald Pool, but was just cruising along the trail and totally missed the turn, after a little back tracking I got to the upper pool. Not a whole lot of water, but the soaring cliffs were amazing!
Cruised down and headed for the shuttle to hike the Narrows.
I expected a lot of people for this, it’s another iconic Zion hike and not even uphill! The first little bit felt like amusement park crowds, but thins out after a while.
The canyon is beautiful, around every turn is an epic picture. I turned around at 5 miles, it was super cool but I was glad to stop walking in water by the tine I got back to the trail.
Hopped the shuttle back to the visitor’s center and strolled back to my campsite. In an excellent discovery, the Zion Outfitter right outside the waking entrance to the park has a shower/laundry facility on the lower level. After 5 days a hot shower was awesome!!
Treating my self to a few beers on the patio of the Zion Canyon Brew Pub seemed like the thing to do, so I did. It rained pretty hard for a bit, so I moved inside and continued to enjoy my beer. I also had a fantastic burger there, the Zion Brew Burger was stupid good. When I got back to my campsite everything was dry, couldn’t have been better!
The next morning I got up early, packed up my campsite and headed home. It was a great trip but it’s always nice to head back home to the wife and pets!!
After one more pic of a National Park sign, of course!