Zion National Park is on Another Planet

Zion National Park was our next heading. Not knowing much about Zion’s Park, I wasn’t anticipating much. We arrived in Springfield, just at the base of Zion, and I honestly felt like I was on another planet! The massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soared into a brilliant blue sky were astonishing. The clouds above casting shadows on the rock formations were something to be seen. No picture will ever do it justice, its incredible.

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I used hotels.com again to book our hotel. Turns out, it was the perfect location. We checked into Hampton Inn & Suites and walked across the parking lot to the visitors center to get the lay of the land. Zion has a nice shuttle bus system, similar to the Grand Canyon.

The shuttle bus runs up and down the Main Street, taking you from the street of Springfield to the park entrance. We got the advice we needed from the visitor center and hopped on a bus to get to the entrance of the park. We paid our $35 entry fee for the next 24 hours and hopped on Zion’s shuttle bus service. Not to be confused from the Main Street shuttle bus service, this bus specifically drives in Zion National Park and that is it.

The Grotto & Weeping Rock

It was only a couple of hours until nightfall so we decided on two shorter trails to kick start our Zion adventure, The Grotto and Weeping Rock. Both trails were only half mile hikes along gradual paved paths. Weeping Rock was just that, I giant rock formation that had dripping water falling from its jagged edges. Check out the picture below to get a glimpse of what I’m talking about.

The second trail was not much to talk about but it was still good to stretch our legs and get ready for the real challenge tomorrow, Angels Landing! Both of the hikes were short and sweet and gave us a taste of what Zion had to offer.

We came to Zion for one reason and one reason only, one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. In fact, as we sat and ate dinner at a local sports bar in Springfield, we overheard the bartender and a local talking about a man that was found at the bottom earlier today. The man was young, 36 or so I believe. It was really sad and makes you take a step back and think. Could it be that dangerous, how do you die if thousands of people do the hike every day? I guess we’ll find out…

As we wiped the sleep from our eyes the next morning, we began packing our bag with protein bars and water. We caught the shuttle bus right outside our hotel just before 7:45am. We took the main street shuttle bus to the park entrance and hopped on the Zion shuttle bus inside the park. One shuttle bus to the next, we soon found ourselves at the start of the Angel’s Landing hike.

We took a moment to stop to look around and catch our breath, as we knew we were in for a strenuous next few hours. The start of the trail was nice and gradual, although we seemed to climb in elevation pretty quickly. It was sill early at quarter after 8am and the trail was sparse. The weather was perfect for hiking as the temperate was hovering around the high 50’s. The sun was just starting to peak over the crest of the mesas.

West Rim Trail

The West Rim Trail completes the first two miles of the hike. It’s a steady, uphill climb on a wide, paved trail. We made sure to stop enough and appreciate the scenery, take pictures and catch our breath. After a steady uphill walk, the trail enters Refrigerator Canyon. If you are expecting a place to stay cool and in the shade, this was your last chance. It’s the only shady part of the hike which is one of the reasons we decided to do the hike early. The other reason, we wanted to beat the crowds.

Walter’s Wiggles were next up and these 21 switchbacks are no easy feat. Prepare to feel the burn just before the half way point here. If you need to stop, don’t be embarrassed, as we saw a ton of people stopping every few switchbacks. I saw a few kids running up this section! Ahh, to be young again!

Scout’s Landing

Now that we had officially walked off our meal from last night, we headed to Scout’s Landing. Scout’s landing is where you get your first incredible view of the landscape and all that is Zion National Park. It was at this moment that made every single step worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat for this view. Amanda and I felt really accomplished by this point and took a minute to put our backs up against the wall and enjoy the moment.

If it seems like we took a lot of breaks to rest, we really didn’t. Our bodies were feeling good so we kept pushing on. We were a good hour or so into the hike now. We both wanted to stay safe and climb back down with no excitement.

However, here is where things got really interesting. With chain-assisted rock scrambling sections, stunning views, and vertigo-inducing heights, this is the section that everybody talks about. There was no turning back from here. I was so proud of Amanda for doing this hike with me. She had no idea she was afraid of heights, and she isn’t, but this was another level. I kept repeating one foot after another, one hand after another. Never let go of the chain and watch your footing. Some part of the trail did not have anything to hold onto at all.

“The Spine”

The spine of Angel’s Landing was coming up soon and the path was only a few feet wide at this point. Look to the left, look to the right, nothing but clean air. A 1,000ft drop separated us and the ground. Check out this short video clip to really get an idea of what it was like!

It was a long way down and the shuttle bus looked like a matchbox car. We were doing really good actually. I’ve never hiked anything like this in my life, I had my doubts If I could do it.

Just as we thought we were almost at the top. Nope! We were still a couple of hundred feet away…

One last drink of water before the final stretch to the top. We could’ve turned around at this point but we didn’t, we just had to make it up. This was one of the most dangerous and exhilarating hikes in the world. We got this!

Angel’s Landing

Once we made it to the top we enjoyed not only the perfect view, but a couple of bananas we stashed in our bags. The California Condors were active and making passes along the cliff side. Not the most beautiful birds in the world, but it was pretty incredible to see them soar at this height. They had a nest no higher than 10ft above the trail. It’s said that Angel’s Landing got it’s name because it was so high and the only thing that could land on a cliff so high and dangerous is, you guessed it, angels…

I wish we had time to spend all day at the top of Angels Landing. I’d never seen anything like it and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Unfortunately, we could only spend a mere twenty minutes or so and had to make our way back down. It took us a third of the time to get back down as the decent was much easier. Believe it or not, the hardest part going back down was dodging the amount of people that were coming up. We were glad we chose to bite the bullet and get up early because the crowds were coming in droves.

We reached the base just before noon and more importantly, before it started getting too hot. As the park shuttle bus arrived and picked up our weary legs, we got off just a few stops later to grab lunch.

There was a nice vegan sandwich shop serving fresh smoothies and chicken wraps, it fit the bill nicely. After we enjoyed a quick bit, we saddled up and set our navigation to Vegas. That’s right, Vegas baby!

Have you been to Zion National Park? If not, do you plan on going now?! Leave a comment in the section below.

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