Zion and Bryce Canyon, Utah at her best
We spent 3 amazing days at Zion National Park. It is a place of steep canyons, colourful rock formations, and stunning views. We fit in as much as our bodies would take in the time we were there (I’m still recovering).
On day one we hiked up to Hidden Canyon. I noticed on the trail information it said not for anyone fearful of heights, but decided to ignore it. Which was a good thing as it was a very rewarding climb. The last bit before getting to the canyon was along a tiny ledge on the cliff face, but there was a chain to hold onto and I avoided looking at anything but my feet and got across. Hidden Canyon was a fun scramble over rocks and through the narrowing canyon to see a natural arch and more of the steep red walls.
Our second day we got up early and caught the shuttle to the end of the road into Zion to do The Narrows. It is a “trail” that follows the Virgin river through the canyon, up to 10 miles return. We were in the water most of the day, up to knee deep for most of the time. There are places to get out of the water, and spots where it gets a little deeper. We came to one such spot just after lunch and found a few people looking for a way around. I took some pride in being the first one to brave the pool by holding my bag above my head, removing my warmer layers, and wading in chest deep.
We were rewarded with having the rest of the canyon basically to ourselves after that point, passing only a few other people, and made it to big springs. This was an amazing way to spend the day and we both loved the adventure. Most people in the canyon had rented waterproof pants and shoes, but we decided to be hardcore (and lets be honest, thrifty) and were fine in thermals and shorts.
I had to psych myself for what day 3 held in store for us, Luke wanted to do Angel’s Landing, the hike the park is renowned for. It is an extremely steep climb up to a path with sheer drops of over a 1000 feet on each side. There are chains to hold onto but it is not for the faint of heart. Luke did enjoy the challenge, and I got farther than I thought I would! No, I did not go to the very end, but was well impressed with myself for where I did get to. The views from the top were amazing.
All in all we loved Zion, there are hikes for all levels, but the most rewarding will get your heart racing. We left absolutely shattered, but it was worth it.
We got to Bryce Canyon the next morning and decided to treat ourselves and stay at the campground, mainly because Luke wanted sunrise photos the next morning (and I cannot be coaxed out of bed that early!).
Bryce Canyon is amazing and interesting in a very different way to Zion, hoodoos take over the landscape in tall spires of pink, white, red and yellow. It is fairly high elevation (about 8000 feet) and we noticed the cooler temperature right away and the thinner air when we started to walk the canyon rim.
Luke did get up for sunrise and watched the colours spread over the valley, I enjoyed my warm bed. It had rained hard overnight, and we realized as we drove up to the top of the park it had snowed at slightly higher elevations. We drove up into a snow storm, which did ruin our views of the landscape a little, and stopped us venturing onto the slippery clay paths into the canyon. We didn’t linger long and thought maybe we would find some warmer weather heading away from Bryce.
The snow and rain stopped as we headed east on a very scenic drive on highway 12 through the Grand Staircase. The beautiful drive was made a lot more interesting when we realized we had a 9000 foot mountain pass to cross (I’m sorry I don’t know the metric, all our maps are in American). Anyway, our faithful little truck served us well again and we crossed the snowy mountain with no problems. We stopped for the night in the national forest, a little lower down and out of the snow, not far from our next stop, Capitol Reef.