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