I would almost go as far as to say that Zion has been my favorite Park So far. It’s unique geographical formations create a variety of landscapes with amazingly varied colours, it was a truly awe inspiring experience.
I drove in from the east entrance, (which I highly recommend) it takes to through these amazing sandstone mountains that have been carved over time to almost look like sand dunes with these unique patterns, the famous checkerboard, the almost slate like looking rock and then the smoother slick rock.
Then you get to a tunnel through one of the mountains which goes for just over 1 km, when you get to the other side it opens up into to this enormous canyon surrounded by towering sandstone mountains. There are a few switchbacks that take you down into the valley, on each bend are pullouts where you can pull over and spend some time taking in the incredible view. It was here that I learned the tunnel didn’t cut through a mountain but rather skirted just inside one of the enormous cliffs, you could see the periodic widows into the tunnel cut into the cliff face.
I stopped at one of the Visitor centers on the way through to get some information, then continued on to my campsite for the night. I was headed for some more BLM land about 15-20 min past the south entrance just before a small town called La Verkin, there are a few dirt roads the criss-cross one another just off the I9 on the left. I found myself a spot, not to far in and set up camp.
What a spot, in the middle of the desert, surrounded by distant mountains, the sun was setting by this stage and was an absolute spectacular view to cook dinner to.
The next morning I woke had breakfast and headed into the park. During the peak season they run a shuttle system follows the virgin river up and down Zion canyon to reduce the tourist congestion, it actually worked really well and was nice to be able to leaver the van in one spot for the day and not worry about finding parks. The first thing I noticed as we headed up into Zion canyon was how different the landscape was compared to the East entrance, allot more greenery along the river and the cliffs had more white to them.
My first stop was number 4 “Court of the Patriarchs’ here it’s a short walk to a viewing are for the Patriachs, three sandstone cliffs named after biblical figures Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
From there I jumped back on the shuttle and headed for the next stop 5 Zion lodge. Here you can access the trails to the Upper and Lower Emerald Pools. Another pretty easy hike to the lower emerald pool , it is a little harder going to the Upper Emerald, by no means hard but if your not very confident on your feet there’s allot of large steps and slippery sandy rocks. The Lower Emerald pool is not so much a pool but more an overhang where water spills out from above making little waterfalls and some nice vertical gardens.
The upper emerald pool walk takes you past the top of the overhang and then up to the pool where the water comes out of seep springs in the large cliff above.
From here I decided to keep hiking to the next stop “the grotto” the trail follows along the the virgin river and then heads up to angels landing which was my next stop.
The hike to Angels landing was amazing, it starts off pretty easy, similar to the rest of the trail, that is until you hit the base of the cliffs then it turns into some long winding switchbacks where you start to get some spectacular views down the valley.
You then head in-between two cliffs where it flattens out for a bit before getting to some very short and sharp switchbacks that take you up rather quickly.
At the top you arrive at one side of a ridge, this is where it gets fun. The trail then follows a rather narrow ridge-line with quite sharp drop-offs either side, at this point the trail gets pretty congested. If you’re scared of heights prepare yourself, there’s nothing but some chain handrails and narrow sometimes steep two way trails from here on out with drop-offs on both sides. There were allot of people giving up here and turning around or taking extra time to build up courage, so it was slow going which was Ok because it gave me time to take it all in.
At the top the Views were spectacular 360deg up and down the canyon, well worth the hike.
Next I jumped back on the shuttle and headed to Weeping Rock. Another short walk from the shuttle stop to an overhang where water streams out of a seep spring which allows all different plants to grow on the side of the rocks creating the vertical garden.
From there it was time to head to the final stop, the Narrows. I think this is the most visited attraction in the whole park, which was apparent when I got off the shuttle, there was certainly allot more foot traffic going in and out of the trail. The narrows trail starts with a maybe 20min on a made path along the Virgin River. At the end I stopped and changed into my other shoes then headed in. The Narrows is a slot canyon that the Virgin River has calved through the sandstone, about 10m wide with 300m cliffs either side at places.
The trail takes you up through the canyon where you wade through the river and along the banks where possible. It was pretty amazing and I could see why it was so popular, it’s a pretty unique experience.
I’m not sure how far up I went, but I walked for about an 1 to 1.5h before I decided to turn around. By this stage in the day I was pretty tired, I had been hiking all day and my feet were hurting from the terrible shoes (Dunlop volleys, I didn’t want to ruin my runners or hiking boots). The hike up the river isn’t very hard, it’s pretty much flat but scrambling across river rocks and through moving water takes a toll on you.
That was my day done, back to the car and back to the same campsite for the night.
I had noticed earlier that my exhaust was sounding different, I guessed all the bumpy dirt roads had possibly dislodged some corrosion from the pipe leaving hole or something, so once I got back to camp I decided to pop my head under and have a look. To my surprise the muffler had completely separated from the rest of the exhaust, not ideal. The muffler was now only hanging on at one end and could easily fall off and possibly cause some damage on the way through and the exhaust gassed were now unloading under the car where I knew there were holes in the floor pan (where the middle captain’s chairs used to bolt to the floor). So the next morning I pulled into an exhaust shop in La Verkin. The sound wasn’t actually that bad from the exhaust without the muffler so I just wanted the muffler removed and a piece welded in its place. When they got under to have a look, the rest of the exhaust was riddled with holes so I got them to just weld a piece on and bring it out in front of the rear wheel a whole $72 it cost me and now I have a van with side pipes sounding like a Camaro haha. Not going to lie I was pretty happy with the new sound, it really unleashed the 350 and I may have driven with the windows down for the rest of the trip to Vegas haha.