When we woke up the day after exploring Arches National Park, the sky was loosing torrents of rain and lightening over the city of Moab with no blue skies in sight. Originally, we planned to hike around Canyonlands National Park that day, but decided to drive to Zion National Park, located in the southeastern part of the state, to avoid the storm. KC wanted to see the Four Corners Monument and we both wanted to see Monument Valley, so we made a day of driving to the Park (you can check out more photos of our drive to Zion on our Utah Adventure Part 2 Photo Journal page).
We didn’t arrive into the Zion area until after 11PM and, since it was still raining, we decided to get a hotel room that night. The next day, we woke up early to beautiful weather with no rain in the daily forecast.
KC got me a guidebook for all the US National Parks last Christmas. In preparation for our day at Zion National Park, I flipped through the book to see the recommended hikes and two stood out: Angel’s Landing and Narrows Riverwalk. We decided to do both.
We drove into the park, not really knowing what to expect. Both hikes are in the Zion Canyon, the most popular section of the park, which is only accessible by shuttles. After parking in the visitor’s center, we caught a shuttle, and we were amazed by this view when we got off the shuttle.
Angel’s Landing is thus named because Frederick Fisher, a 1916 explorer, once proclaimed that “only angels can land on it” because it is so tall and imposing. Sure enough, the trail includes a 1,488ft elevation gain over 2.5 miles. What caught my attention, as I flipped through the guidebook was a promise of a rock scramble over the last half mile of the trail, along a ridge, with a drop on either side between 1,200ft to 1,488ft.
The first two miles of the trail is maintained and felt like a stroll in a (national) park. Then we came across Walter’s wiggles, a series of switchbacks, where you gain the bulk of the 1,200ft elevation gain before the rock scramble, and we got a workout.
After the wiggles, there is a flat section of the trail with amazing views. I thought we completed the hike until KC pointed out the ridge with cables, continuing in the distance.
Then we started the last half mile of the hike, which was a rock scramble, gaining the last 288ft.
I’ll admit that even though I’ve rock climbed as high as this, the rock scramble along the narrow ridge scared me a little bit because of the exposure and lack of protection (harnesses and ropes). We survived the scramble and made it to the top. The views were amazing.
We even did some fun photo poses for social media.
On the hike down from Angel’s Landing, KC reached to grab my hand without looking and almost took the hand of a guy trying to pass him. In the awkward moments following the almost hand hold, KC struck up a conversation with him and the three of us ended up doing the Narrows Riverwalk trail together.
Photos can not do the Narrows Riverwalk trail justice. This place is seriously beautiful and hiking the trail was an amazing experience. The trail alternates between walking in the middle of the river and dry portions along the banks (when there were banks), all the while surrounded by rock walls hundreds of feet tall. I found out the hard way that you should have proper water shoes for this trail and that flip-flops are not proper water shoes.
On the trail, I stopped three times to really appreciate the trail and the beauty around me. However, each of the three times, I would see something that would remind me that there are some not-so-pretty aspects of nature… Such as a deer carcass in the river. The other two such times were human sized poops, one floating, the other laying in plain sight on a dry part of the trail (yes, you read that right). However, those poops answered my question of why were there many signs around the park reminding people to use the bathroom before starting on a trail.
Along the way, we found a couple of rock faces to traverse and a boulder to climb. Since all three of us are rock climbers, we decided to do some climbing.
However, I fell off one rock and managed to hurt my left ankle.
After the Hikes
On the way back, through the Valley, we were treated to an awesome view of the valley at dusk.
Before saying good bye to our hiking buddy, we asked him if he wanted to get a beer and ice cream with us at the lodge. He agreed and the three of us relaxed at the lodge with our treats. There we ended our day at Zion and parted ways.
Zion is a placed filled with beauty and adventure. From the tops of the mountains to the river valleys, this place astonished us. Maybe next time we’ll climb straight up those rock cliffs.
You can see more photos from our Zion National Park Trip on our Utah Adventure Park 2 Photo Journal Page.