Zion National Park

This was our second time visiting Zion National Park. The first time was about 8 years ago and we spent a short afternoon here during our trip to Moab, UT driving from San Jose, CA. This time we spent almost two days enjoying the park spending all of our time in the southern part of the park in the main valley.

We experienced our first rain since beginning our journey in early March. The storm clouds added some character to our photos and brightened the colors of the rock. The cooler weather made our day hikes very pleasant. Our first hike was to Upper and Lower Emerald Pools. These were easy hikes and the trails were pretty crowded with tourists. Each of the emerald pools is a shallow pool of water at the base of a cavern created from waterfalls (during the spring rains) or from water seeping from the sandstone walls. There are beautiful hanging gardens and gorgeous views of the red cliffs that create the beauty of Zion. These photos are a poor representation of how beautiful this hike was.

Lower Emerald Pool. You can see the black varnish on the sandstone walls where the waterfalls flow during the rainy season.
All along the hike we could see these massive sandstone peaks in the background.
Upper Emerald Pool
We saw a little wildlife along the way.
We even saw a little wildlife along the way.

We had enough time during this visit to do the Angel’s Landing hike which is only 5 miles round trip but the kicker is that you climb 1,488 feet in 2.5 miles.

Now those are some serious switchbacks!

The trail was created in 1926 by park service employees who had to cut into solid rock. Talk about back breaking work! This is one of the most popular trails in all of our national parks and it’s one of the deadliest. There is a caution sign at the beginning of the steepest section of the trail which is not paved but there are cables to assist hikers through these last sections.

Warning of the dangers of hiking this trail.

Darryl and I started up this section but we didn’t make it all the way to the top. With the storm clouds in the distance, we didn’t think it wise to stand on exposed rock at one of the highest points in the valley. We still want to see Alaska and Argentina and everything in between.

You can see the chains that were installed in this last section of trail.
You can see the cables that were installed in this last section of trail.
We were content with our decision to turnaround.
We were content with our decision to turnaround.

I did take a moment to film the narrow saddle that leads up to the final section of trail.

Taking a look down the zig zagging trail.
Taking a look down the zig zagging trail.

On the way down we saw a photographer sitting with a camera taking time lapsed photos of the canyon. Every 15 seconds her camera would snap a picture of the same scene. Her plan was to stitch all of the photos together into a 30 second video. I’m sure it will be amazing given the beautiful storm clouds that were passing through. I snapped a photo from the same location.DSC00727

Our next hike / walk was along the Riverside Walk trail. It’s only 2 miles round trip and hugs the North Fork of the Virgin River. There are hanging gardens all along the trail with beautiful flowers growing on the canyon walls. The walls are moist from water that has seeped through the sandstone creating a unique ecosystem for these plants.

Maidenhair fern clings to the cliffs. Those colors on the wall are made from the various minerals in the rock.
Shooting star
Scarlet lobelia
Looking up to the gardens of maidenhair fern and golden columbine growing along the cliff walls.
Western columbine
Golden columbine

We returned to our campsite after our day of exploring. We stayed at Quality Inn RV Park in Springdale, Utah where they have a large lot in back of the hotel where you can set up tents or park your RV. There are showers available and the facilities are very well maintained. It’s a beautiful setting just outside the entrance to Zion.

There was a Land Rover Defender that caught Darryl’s eye. We went over to meet the owners and take a photo of the vehicle for his Bad Ass Vehicle page. Rosemary and Bill, the owners, were from the UK and have been traveling in Moby (the Land Cruiser) for a couple of years. Moby has taken them through Africa and Latin America and now they are traveling to Alaska. We went out to dinner with them where they entertained us with their stories of traveling in Moby and their life path that led them to selling their home and traveling the world. I especially loved their stories about Ab-Sara, their Arabian horse. The next morning when we went over to say good-bye, they shared with us their favorite places to see throughout Latin America. You can read about their travels on their blog http://latinamericaroadtrip.wordpress.com/.

Rosemary & Bill with Moby
Rosemary & Bill with Moby

Being able to really take our time wandering through these beautiful parks is wonderful but meeting fellow travelers like Rosemary and Bill and hearing their stories is something really special in ways that I don’t think we anticipated when we planned the trip.

10 thoughts on “Zion National Park”

  1. Nancy and Darryl, what a gorgeous place! And your photos are stunning. We were there several years ago, but I must admit that we did not try the Angel’s Landing hike. I love that you said you “want to see Alaska and Argentina and everything in between.” 🙂 ~Terri


  2. Great photos! We did the Angel’s Landing hike about 10 years ago. Love it! There was a rescue going on on the mountain at the same time and we learned there was a rock climber that had been injured and was trapped in the mountain. I was just thinking how happy I was to be able to get down with my own two legs 🙂


  3. Terri & James thanks so much! That’s so nice to hear!! I saw the post earlier today. Your “Slice of Americana” series is awesome and I’m excited to be part of it!


  4. Zion Park is truly awe-inspiring. There isn’t a direction you can look in the park without taking in a truly world-class view. I would recommend hiking the Narrows if you haven’t done that before! I also was unable to make it out to Angel’s Landing, but hey, there’s always next time!

    I’m ne two your blog but looking forward to following along!


    1. We haven’t hiked the Narrows yet. It’s definitely a hike that we would like to do on a future visit! The park is so beautiful that I’m sure we’ll be drawn there again.

      You should definitely hike up to Angel’s Landing. The views all along the way are incredible.


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