Zion National Park: After a peaceful day and night on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, we drove 90 miles north to Zion National Park in southern Utah. Despite the short distance away, the temperature climbed 30 degrees and we soon found ourselves back in 110 degree weather!
The entrance to the park was a mile-long tunnel carved into the cliffs that took us into a gorge surrounded by steep sandstone mountains. The 15-mile canyon was settled by Morman farmers (after the Spanish and Native Americans) in 1850 and was called “Kolob”, which means “the heavenly place nearest the residence of God” in Morman scripture. After the National Park Service acquired the land in the early 1900’s, they renamed the region “Zion”, meaning place of refuge or sanctuary.
After assuring a venue in the nearby town to watch the Murray-Federer match (not that Dicken’s sports matches have dictated our route or anything), we arrived at our campsite, which was at the bottom of the canyon along the Virgin River. Despite the high temperatures, this was one of our most beautiful stops. Much less overwhelming than the Grand Canyon, Zion is an intimate and smaller park with a shuttle that connects hiking stops along the surrounding mountains.
We did two hikes while in Zion, the first in the Narrows of the Virgin River. This is a popular hike along the riverbed, and at times we were wading at waist height through the water and carrying our bags above our heads. Everyone seemed to have walking sticks that made the walk along the underwater rocks much more manageable– somehow we missed these. Unfortunately we couldn’t go too far up the river due to flash flood warnings, so we ungracefully walked/fell/splashed through the water for a few hours and then turned around. Torrey would also like to note that she jumped off a VERY high cliff into the river at one point – she thought her brother would have been impressed.
The next day after watching Federer trounce Murray (good effort though), we went for an incredible hike up to Angels Landing. This is probably the most famous hike in Zion and involves a 1300 feet elevation along the 2 and a half miles to the top. The last half-mile is a narrow path littered with steep cliffs – so many that a chain is provided to hold so you don’t fall off! Dicken handled the heights much better on this trip…