Zion National Park January 23-25 2015

I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve visited Zion, it must be the 5th or 6th time in the 8 years I’ve lived in the Beehive State.

The weekend started by heading down to Springdale Friday night. We stopped in at the Zion Brew Pub — which is remarkable in itself. You can have a pint at the bar and take a few steps to enter one of the most beautiful places on earth. What could be better than this?

I would suggest the burger if you just need to get fueled up for the trails. The Zion Pale Ale is excellent, though the Jamaican Lager not so much. I used to really enjoy that brew but it’s appeal has waned on me in the ensuing years.

It was a fun atmosphere at the pub, including a pair of musicians from Georgia who were entertaining the small crowd of Springdale locals. “Brandy is a fine girl” by Looking Glass is now a certified inside-joke between S and I.

The next morning, S and I got up and ventured into the park around 8am (after some espresso naturally — which is easily acquired before entrance). We stopped in the visitors center and had the place pretty much to ourselves. We took a walk by the Virgin river and found some good pictures in the morning sun.

Next we ventured up the canyon in our adventure Prius. This was a treat as typically you cannot drive in the canyon on your own and must rely on the park shuttle (not a bad thing).

We stopped at the Angel’s Landing trail head and noticed that several other people had the same idea. On the spur of the moment we decided we should give the trail another go and we were not disappointed. It was probably the most pleasant time to make the hike. The temps never got much above 60 and the sun was not as oppressive as it can be on that trail during the warmer months. It was really a photographers dream but we handled ourselves fine with just a Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5.

I decided not to do the full hike out to Angel’s Landing when we reached Lookout point. Instead S stayed there I continued on the West Rim trail for about another hour. I found some really nice spots up in the Navajo sandstone, including a wooded area off the trail a bit hidden in the afternoon shade. Found a lot of wildlife evidence, deer scat, moutain lion tracks (including kitten!) and such but no actual wildlife. The full West Rim trail is on my todo list for a future visit. Hopefully that comes soon.

After coming back down from that trail we had just enough time to drive up to the head of the canyon and walk the riverside Temple of Sinawava trail. It was mostly shaded at this time of day and a bit chilly. Many of the canyon walls were still weeping from the heat of the day.

Sunday morning we took the scenic route out of the park through the old WPA tunnel. On the far side of the tunnel we stopped and did the canyon overlook trail. I foolishly did this in my daily wear boots while holding a coffee but it all worked out. On this trail the biggest view was actually a herd of bighorn sheep lazily grazing in the morning sun. That was a first for us and amazing to watch for roughly a half an hour.

Bonus: On the way back to SLC we stopped in at Bryce Canyon NPS and was delighted to find it decorated in a soft tapestry of snow (but not covered).