ZION NATIONAL PARK
Zion National Park is one of the most popular parks in southern Utah with very limited parking. The best option is to park in the town of Springdale and take the free shuttle to the park entrance then take a park shuttle to whatever sight you want to visit in the park. (Pro tip: When you park in Springdale park far away from the park entrance since the buses fill up on their way to the park so you might have to wait for several buses to go by before one has any seats available, we parked close to stop 6 and the bus was nearly empty each time)
Riverside Walk / Weeping Rock
This particular day at Zion was all about the shorter hikes in the park. Weeping rock is a steep walk up to an overhang where water is continuously dripping from the cliff. It was a nice warm day so getting a little wet was no big deal and the view down into the valley through the veil of water is spectacular.
The Riverside Walk meanders along the canyon floor next to the river. It’s evident from all the overly friendly squirrels that not many people pay attention to the “Don’t feed the animal” signs along the way. We found it rather humorous to come across a squirrel chowing down on an Oreo cookie.
The marketing department for the National Park Service needs some help with their adjectives and descriptors. The park pamphlet said the Angels Landing hike was a strenuous hike and not for children. To us, the inexperienced park goer that translates to long and steep – think ‘leg day’! No problem, we’ve got this; our packs held plenty of water, our lunch, and snacks for the day so off we went.
The first two and a half miles are a steady climb of paved trails with plenty of way points for picture perfect views or a spot to simply stop and catch your breath. Just when you think you must be getting close to the top you encounter Squiggle the Wiggles, 23 switchbacks virtually straight up the canyon wall. By switchback #18 our legs are screaming we’re questioning our ability for rational thought and we still haven’t reached Angels Landing yet. Cresting the top of the wiggles is Scout’s Lookout, a large landing area where families can hang out, enjoy lunch and watch the remaining crazy people tackle Angels Landing.
There is only one way up and down to Angel’s Landing and after passing Scout’s Lookout the trail is only wide enough for single file traffic so we had to stop numerous times where there was a wide spot to let people coming down go by. Thankfully the park service installed chains to hang onto for the steeper parts because without the chains there would be a lot more deaths each year (sadly somebody fell to their death about a month before we were there).
Once we reached the top (1500 foot elevation climb) we were blown away by the view and overwhelmed by the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. While this hike was difficult, sadly, impatient hikers are probably the more dangerous component to this trek. Despite the challenges it was definitely well worth the trip.
After conquering Angels Landing we didn’t think it could get much better until we rounded the corner in Hurricane, Utah and came across a taco truck. Arriving 30 minutes before they closed, we chalked up the line of people still waiting to placing orders as a good indication to the quality of the food and we weren’t disappointed.