6/12/2019 to 6/14/2019
Visiting Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Two of my favorites!
Wednesday 6/12/2019 Our journey today from Williams, Arizona to Hurricane, UT was about 285 miles. That's a longer drive than I prefer but I wanted to spend three nights in Hurricane so we could visit Zion National Park. The drive was a little boring at first but as we got closer to Utah there were some very nice scenic parts. We are staying at Willowwind RV Park which is about 25 miles from Zion. We stayed in Hurricane last year in June but at Sand Hollow State Park. Willowwind really surprised me with how green everything was. It's been quite a while since we've been able to park the trailer in the shade.
Thursday 6/13/2019 We've been told that Zion gets extremely crowded during the summer months and if you want to park in the visitor's center parking lot you should arrive before 7:30 am. We left the trailer at 6:30 am and were in the parking lot at 7:00. We took a short walk around the outside of the visitor's center because it didn't open until 8 am. Private vehicles are not allowed to drive on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, you have to take shuttle buses. So, we got in line for the next bus. It was only about a ten-minute wait and then we were on our way. There are nine different stops on the drive, we decided to make our first stop the Zion Lodge. We walked in the lodge for a short time and then took our first hike of the day - The Lower Emerald Pool Trail. It was a fairly easy 1.2-mile hike. Normally you can continue walking to the Upper Emerald Pool Trail but it was closed due to a rock slide. We walked back to the lodge and boarded the shuttle for our next hike - Riverside Walk. This hike normally leads to a part of the park called The Narrows. We were very disappointed that The Narrows were also closed. You walk through water on the hike and the water level was too high to be safe. This was one of the hikes we were really looking forward to and we're sorry we missed it.
After finishing the section of the Riverside walk that was still open, we re-boarded the shuttle bus and went to the next section we wanted to hike. This hike is the most famous hike in Zion but is very strenuous and extremely difficult at the end – it’s named Angel’s Landing. But first – we ate lunch at a picnic area before the beginning of the trail. Angel’s Landing is a 5.4-mile round trip hike and rises 1488 feet. The trail to Angels Landing is an unforgettable short adventure. (for some of us it took a lot longer) It’s a set of several very steep switchbacks that present a relentless uphill climb. It’s said to be one of the most difficult and most terrifying hikes in the park. After completing the steep switchbacks you come to an area called Walter's Wiggles. It has 21 sharp turns carved into the face of the cliff to get to the top. The serpentine switchbacks steeply ascend the north face, each wiggle no more than 20-25 feet in length. The top offers wonderful views of Zion Canyon. But after you reach the top which is a wide, stone area that you can roam around on, is the most dangerous section. There you find a chain rope that hikers going single-file cling to whether going up or down. This section is very congested with people so you are supposed to take turns and let a group walk up while the group coming down is waiting to descend. Danny and I began this section and climbed maybe 50 feet but with the large groups of people coming down, we had to let go of the chain rope and try not to fall. After about 20 minutes, we decided there were just too many people and we didn't want to risk our lives to climb to the end. But, we were proud of ourselves for making it that far. Now it was time to begin the strenuous (in the opposite direction) climb down. We happened upon a rescue scene – a young man somehow hurt his leg and the rescue squad had to carry him out on a stretcher. The man waited a long time for help because we passed his group of friends on the way up and it was at least two hours later when we passed him on the way down finally getting carried away. At the bottom of the trail is the Virgin River and Danny took his shoes and socks off and had a nice, cold, refreshing walk in the water. We boarded the bus for the next to last time and got off at the Zion Park Museum for a short visit. Then we took the bus for the end stop back to the visitor’s center and drove back to the trailer, exhausted and ready for a shower and sleep.
If you are interested in seeing the last half mile of Angels Landing, watch the video below. In this video, the trail is not very crowded. Just imagine what it would be like with the crowds we had the day we were there.
Friday 6/14/2019 We still have one more full day at this RV Park near Zion but we felt we accomplished everything we wanted to yesterday. We've heard a lot of comments about how nice Bryce Canyon is but it was a two-hour drive from where we are staying. We decided to take the long drive because who knows when we'd get the chance again. All of us were glad we made the trip. Bryce Canyon does allow vehicles into the park but suggests that you use their shuttle services to help with the traffic and environment. So, we decided to park the truck in town and take their shuttle bus. Our first stop was Inspiration Point where we walked along the ridge until we came to Sunset Point. At Sunset Point is where we began our descent into The Hoodoo area. It's a steep downward collection of switchbacks with a beautiful reward at the bottom. It's a gigantic canyon area surrounded by rock and somehow trees have managed to prosper there. The photo opportunities were endless. We continued on a three-mile hike that took us through several different gorgeous landscapes but of course, near the end began the steep switchback climb back up to the ending spot called Sunrise Point. We were glad we hiked in the direction we did - from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point because the switchbacks we came down on would have been more difficult than these we climbed at the end.
The short video below is the beautiful site we saw right after we got off the bus.
We boarded the shuttle bus once more to take us back to the truck. We enjoyed lunch at a cowboy bar and then made one more stop at an area of Bryce Canyon called Mossy Cave. There's a small parking lot at the beginning of the short hike and we managed to get a space. It's just a short walk through a grassy area to the Mossy Cave. It's basically just a large stone overhang, not a cave you can enter. Then we took another short walk to a stream and a waterfall. This also made for some nice photographs.
Below is a video I found that really shows the beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park.
We took a different route on our way back to the RV Park. There's a road that goes through Zion National Park that vehicles are permitted to drive on. It's called "Zion-Mount Carmel Highway" and is about 25 miles long. There's also a 1.1-mile long tunnel that you must pass through on this drive. It was made so many years ago that it's too narrow for two vehicles to pass if one of the vehicles is wide. Their solution was to charge a wider vehicle $ 15.00 to pass. When you arrive near the entrance to the tunnel, the attendant stops oncoming traffic as soon as there's an opening, and then he waves you on. It's a little costly just to drive through a tunnel, but that was our only option. This road is again very scenic but we were all tired from our earlier hike so we didn't stop to take any photographs. These were all taken from the truck's window.
One more video showing the beauty of Zion National Park.
Saturday 6/15/2019 We were all in agreement that Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park are unbelievable and a must-see for everyone. I'm glad we got the chance to enjoy the spectacular sites and hike them with Danny. Today we packed up and are headed to Downtown Las Vegas for one night.
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