Category Archives: Zion National Park

Into “The Narrows” (Zion NP, Utah)

UTAH: Zion NP; Hiking the Narrows (Virgin River)

“The Narrows” was the perfect plunge into vacation mode (July 2008).

After dropping off luggage, we hopped onto the seasonally mandatory shuttle bus and rode toward its uppermost stop, the Temple of Sinewava. Each curve of the road took us deeper into the intriguing walls of Zion. We craned to see rocks that stretched up like skyscrapers, sipped water from our Camelbaks and constantly nudged one another to “look at that!”

UTAH: Zion NP; Navajo sandstone fills the biggest space amongst Zion’s nine layers of vibrant rock. A shifting of the earth’s crust some 200 million years ago sloshed ocean water over giant sand dunes that rose far above our modern day dunes. The sea minerals cemented the sand grains, transforming those ancient wind-swept dunes into permanent fixtures. Subsequent motions in the crust lifted and tilted the newly-formed rock, draining the sea but leaving rivers behind to further embellish the landscape by carving dramatic canyons and eroding honeycombed crevices and caves.  Hiking “The Narrows” would give us a first-hand glance at erosion in action.  And be a LOT of fun…

UTAH: Zion NP; Hiking

To access “The Narrows,”  we first walked the one-mile “Riverside Trail” to its finish at the chilly Virgin River. After slipping my camera into our dry bag, we began our hike by simply walking into the clear waters of the river.

Absolute exhilaration.

There’s not much better than a river hike on a hot day. You expect to get wet and maybe a little dirty. There’s no need to step over puddles; instead, you aim for them. It’s the perfect kid hike (for the kid in all of us).

UTAH: Zion NP; Hiking

Debra, a part-time employee at the Cliffrose Lodge had thoughtfully provided us with the necessary hiking sticks (her own) to remain upright in the swift current and over the slippery rocks. As we made our way upriver, the canyon walls enclosed us, blocking all direct sunlight and sheltering us from the sweltering heat. Water trickled and occasionally gushed down the sheer walls sustaining hanging gardens of green that clung to the sandstone. The occasional stretches of deeper sandy-bottomed river prompted challenges between Hannah and Matt to achieve full submersion in the chilly water (I made it up to my ear lobes and counted that a success).

UTAH: Zion NP; Reliving

We didn’t make it the whole sixteen miles. Next time…? We met a couple of guys from Georgia at Zion’s backcountry permit window the next morning who planned to do the hike with an overnight.  Sounded like something fun to aim for…

By 8:30 hunger and darkness sent us back to dry land.  Invigorated, covered in wet sand and fully “on vacation…”

From July 2008.

Springdale Things To Do

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“Hanging Gardens” (Zion National Park, Utah)

UTAH:Zion National Park; Weeping Rock Trail; beneath the falls

Zion National Park Visitor Information and Map

A “hanging garden” in Ohio would require a shepherd’s pole or sturdy tree limb, but in Zion National Park, we found such gardens trailing from the edges of sheer cliffs. The Weeping Rock Trail was an easy stroll that provided identifications for some of the intriguing plant life we had admired during our park stay and ended beneath a dripping cliff resplendent with blooming greenery.UTAH:Zion National Park; Weeping Rock Trail; hanging gardens

We wondered “Why…”

And “How…?”

UTAH:Zion National Park; Weeping Rock Trail; beneath the falls 2

Zion’s majestic peaks are comprised predominately of porous sandstone, a tangible reminder of their sand dune origin. This sandstone absorbs rainfall with the thirst of a giant sponge. The moisture then trickles down through the rock layers until it reaches impenetrable slate. With its downward path now cut off, the water flows out horizontally, eventually reaching daylight at cliff’s edge, a process that can take hundreds of years! According to our shuttle bus driver that afternoon, one sample of water was determined to have had a journey of 4000 years from absorption to its reappearance as drips down a rock wall!

UTAH:Zion National Park; Weeping Rock Trail; golden columbine in water
 
 
 
 
 
 

The rather elegant result of the sandstone’s perch upon slate is the hanging gardens, whimsical oases that dangle from a desert wall of solidified sand.

 

Zion National Park Visitor Information and Map

Zion National Park (Utah) Park Website

Canyons and cliffs in vibrant “rainbow” colors! Hike and climb your way through rivers, slot canyons and up radical cliffs for a “view” in every direction…
Springdale, UT 84767-1099
435-772-3256
Park Hours: Daily (except December 25); call for seasonal hours
Entrance Fee (valid for 7 days): $25.00/private vehicle; $12.00/bicycle, motorcycle, pedestrian($25.00 family cap) Annual Pass available

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Springdale Things To Do

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Court of the Patriarchs and The Emerald Pools of Zion (National Park, Utah)

UTAH:Zion National Park; lone tree on red cliff

Zion National Park Visitor Information and Map

Hannah and I began our third day in Zion National Park with a run up the Watchman Trail.

The steady ascent around Bridge Mountain afforded some spectacular views, but hopping on and over the rocks required that we maintain a decent focus on our footing as well.I’ll never forget running just ahead of the morning sun’s illumination, its rays sliding steady at our heels as we ran out a side canyon to join “the guys” for our day’s hiking…

UTAH:Zion National Park; waterfall to lower Emerald Pool

Day Three of our Utah adventure officially began at the Visitor Center. We had a rough idea of what looked “interesting” and had already hit our must-do “strenuous” trails on Days One and Two.

The trio Emerald Pools (with water!) gained unanimous approval. Decision made; we dashed outside, hopped a shuttle bus and rode toward our next trailhead.

UTAH:Zion National Park; Court of the Patriarchs

We made a photo stop at Court of the Patriarchs, named for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of the Old Testament. After a short uphill stroll, we easily attained the promised photographic vantage point. This “trail” is touted as the “you do this and you can say you hiked Zion” trail by the shuttle bus drivers (of which our favorite was the smooth-toned and knowledgeable Daniel).

UTAH:Zion National Park; waterfall to lower Emerald Pool 2

The trail to the Emerald Pools began further up the road and across the river from Zion Lodge. It was hot. Current drought conditions rendered waterfalls a mere trickle of their normal flow. But we were somewhat acclimated now and knew that keeping hydrated was the key to a good hike…

We favored the Lower and Upper pools over the Middle “puddle” and enjoyed endless views, dainty foliage and a deer or two as we hiked to our favorite Upper Emerald Pool. Preservation efforts eliminated our normal splashing, but we found a picnic spot downstream where we could cool ourselves before the hike back down.

UTAH:Zion National Park; Emerald Pools trail; panoramic horizontal

And at trail’s end? Ice cream on the patio at the venerable Zion Lodge

Zion National Park Visitor Information and Map

Zion National Park (Utah)
Canyons and cliffs in vibrant “rainbow” colors!
Hike and climb your way through rivers, slot canyons and up radical cliffs for a “view” in every direction…

Springdale, UT 84767-1099
435-772-3256
Park Website
Park Hours: Daily (except December 25); call for seasonal hours.
Entrance Fee (valid for 7 days): $25.00/private vehicle; $12.00/bicycle, motorcycle, pedestrian($25.00 family cap) Annual Pass available


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Zion National Park, Utah in a larger map

Springdale Things To Do

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