Friday, January 4, 2013

Zion National Park: Best hikes

Zion National Park in Utah is one of the prettiest place in the world.  I have been to Zion during the summer and winter months, both providing a different perspective of its beauty.
While any of the hikes in the park are beautiful and worth your time, there are two that are well known throughout the United States that are a must see if you only have time for a short stay.

Angels Landing which is the most popular hike in the park is known for its difficult 1200 feet elevation gain in only 2.4 miles.  

The trailhead starts across the street from the Grotto Picnic area.  Follow signs for the West Rim trail/Angels Landing.   The trail begins with 21 grueling switchbacks along the sunbaked mountain side known as the "Walters Wiggles".

When I went in March the trail was slightly covered with snow at this point, and continued to get slippier as you climbed elevation.  If you are planning a spring break/winter trip I would recommend bringing Yak Trax to help you with the steep climb.

At the top of the switchbacks you can take a break at Scouts Landing.  Here is where the trail junctions to take the West Rim Trail, or to the summit of Angels Landing.

Here I am standing at Scouts Landing, with the thin narrow climb up to the summit behind me.
Every few years there are deaths on this trail.  In fact just a couple weeks prior someone had slipped off the ledge due to the slippery snow.  Be prepared and make sure you have the right equipment.  If at all possible, attempt this a little later in the year when the snow is melted.

Even knowing how dangerous this hike is, thousands of people still attempt it every year because of the amazing views!

Finally at the summit!
 If you have energy to tackle a little more hiking, once you get back down to Scouts Landing you have the option of turning onto the West Rim Trail at the junction before heading back down.

The sun did not hit this side of the mountain as long, so the snow was very high when I was there.  We only made it a couple miles before it got too deep and we had to turn around.  Snow shoes would have helped out a lot if we had known!

The other amazing hike in Zion is The Narrows.
Begin at the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop and start hiking on the Garden Walk trail path.  The trail will end at the Virgin River where there will be signs saying you are now entering The Narrows.  There is no guided path on this hike.  You are most often walking and wading through the water.
 This hike should be attempted during late summer when the water level is low.  The water levels are often too high during early summer.  It can however sometimes be done during November through May with wet suits for the cold water temperature. Also, only go if there is no rain in the forecast due to possible flash floods. 

This trek through the Virgin River is 16 miles long and continues to get narrower as you go deeper into the canyon.  The sites are amazing! 

Helpful Tips for hiking the Narrows:

*Wear sturdy footwear.  Walking through the rocky river with algae covered rocks can often be very slippery.  To avoid a twisted ankle wear supportive footwear.

*There are no bathrooms once starting the Garden Walk.

*Head back early.  Once the sun starts to set it won't take long for it to not reach into the canyon.  Be prepared and bring a headlamp.  Head back early.  Often times you don't realize how long you have been hiking into the canyon until you have to head back.

*It can get cold in the canyon.  We were lucky to have a sunny and warm day.  Once we made it deeper into the canyon where the walls got closer together and there was no sunlight the temperature dramatically changed.  Make sure you have layers.

*A hiking stick or poles can help provide stability when wading through the stronger rapid.

*Bring food and snacks.  It's a long day of hiking and you will get hungry!

*Your backpack and camera are at risk if you fall into the water.  I fell in tripping on a rock dunking my camelbak under water.   Luckily my camera inside was still dry.  Just beware and take extra precaution to keep your items safe. 

There campground is also open year round.

After these pictures do you need any more convincing?  Go check out Zion National Park!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rachelle, this may be a weird question but since you've done both Angel's Landing and Longs Peak, which one has the most difficult scrambling? I've done Angel's Landing and I'm thinking of doing Longs Peak this summer, but some of the photos I've seen on the web make it look kind of scary.