Having left Camp Verde, AZ, it’s another 300+mile day on the road to the wonderful Zion National Park, staying in Hurricane, UT, Super 8 ($112, 2nghts).
I could never tire of the scenery in this part of the USA as the road eventually reaches Zion NP from the east. Having entered the park a 1.1 mile tunnel, completed in 1930, is then travelled to reach the main park area.
In this seemingly unending desert, water creates most of what we see. North of Zion, rain falling on the 11,000 foot-high Colorado Plateau races downhill, slices Zion’s relatively soft layers, and pushes it’s debris off the Plateau’s southern edge. This edge is not abrupt, but it steps down in a series of cliffs and slopes known as the Grand Staircase. Above Zion, topping the staircase, Bryce Canyon’s crenellated edges form as water trickles off the Plateau. Below Zion, Grand Canyon forms the lowest rung into which 90% of Colorado Plateau waters run.
An early morning start to get to the park and make use of the excellent internal shuttle system to the start of the Angel’s Landing trail.
The trail follows 21 sharp switchbacks, known as Walter’s Wiggles, reaching Scout Lookout, a sandy area at the saddle before the trail continues along a narrow sandstone isthmus with sheer cliffs on both sides and chains to hang onto for safety. The narrow and arduous trail drops 1,200 feet on one side and 800 on the other.
The views down Zion Canyon and the steep climbs make this a most exhilarating hike and the feeling of achievement on reaching the top is fantastic, to start the day with a hike such as this is something special, anyone living near by with the ability to make this climb regularly is extremely lucky!
Zion NP is right up there with Yellowstone NP and Olympic NP as an extraordinary place to spend time hiking in nature.
From Hurricane the road leads to Kanab Best Western ($256, 2nghts) and one very lazy day catching up on some TV and eating junk food :-).