The Grand Circle - Zion National Park
The grand finale of the Grand Circle Road Trip: Zion National Park.
Zion National Park is characterized by it's 15 mile long canyon surrounding the pristine Virgin River. The canyon, made of red Navajo Sandstone, provides visitors with breathtaking views and ample opportunities to hike straight into the sky. One of the most popular hikes, Angel's Landing, a 5 mile strenuous uphill climb, requires advanced planning, courage, and experience. During the last half mile of the uphill hike, thrill-seekers must use anchored support chains along the sheer fin, while 1200 ft drop offs taunt them on each side. The scariest part proves to be how much traffic this part of the trail gets each day, making the risk of an accident even greater. Regretfully I know of the numerous accidents after reading about them the night before our hike. This is something I wouldn't recommend, just exercise caution.
After finishing our hike at Angel's Landing we decided to take the oh-so-wonderful free shuttle to Weeping Rock. Only a short stroll (under a half mile) this was the perfect place to cool off after the lengthy Angel's Landing which was in full sun for the majority of the hike.
Weeping Rock is a great example of Zion's wide variety of hiking trails which range in length and difficulty. This makes for a great experience for beginning hikers and families with small children as well as for experienced hikers. Vehicles are prohibited from main valley due to the year round popularity of the park, however, free shuttles run through the park regularly and offer an informational narrative for each stop.
With two days in Zion, we originally planned to hike the Narrows, a 16 mile hike through the Zion Canyon via Virgin River. 60% of this hike is in shallow water with the remaining time walking on the riverbank. Most of the way is less than knee deep, with a few spots climbing up to your waste, however this only lasts for about 20 yards. After a 10 day trip of traveling, we were feeling exhausted so we decided to skip the Narrows and complete it in it's entirety during our next visit. Instead we took a shorter hike through Hidden Canyon, which offered exciting vistas and lovely views of the surrounding mountains. It was the perfect substitute and solidified my love affair for Zion.
Everyone loves a good sunset. In Zion, there are several spots you should go to in order to get your fix.
Try these locations for a perfect Zion Sunset:
-Canyon Overlook: 1 mile hike roundtrip
-The Watchman: 3 mile hike roundtrip.
-Canyon Junction Bridge: Be prepared for a crowd.
- The Virgin River: As pictured below.
And that's a wrap on the Grand Circle. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions when planning your own trip through the Southwest. Keep it wild, people!