A May 2004 trip
to Utah by gail k
Quote: Southwest Utah is one of the most beautiful areas I've ever visited! There's so much to see and do, especially if you love the outdoors. Great national and state parks are a stone's throw away.
Snow Canyon is also very hot -- you're in the high desert.
Attraction | "Hiking in Zion"
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 4, 2004
Zion National Park
Zion National Park, Utah 84767
Attraction | "Hiking in Bryce Canyon"
Bryce Canyon is at a fairly high elevation, and the temperatures here are quite changeable. The day we visited, the daytime temp was between the upper 50s and upper 60s, as contrasted with Zion, which was in the low 90s.
Here you are looking down into the canyon, the majority of which is red rocks eroded into "hoodoos," or free-standing rock formations carved by the wind. (Imagine a crowd of people standing around; the rock formations are simply amazing.) The main area of the canyon is called the Amphitheatre.
The Rim Trail goes around the top of the canyon wall, from which you can see over 100 miles. The air is amazingly clear.
The most memorable hike we took was on the Navajo Trail, which descends 500-600 feet into the canyon, ending in a slot canyon that is breathtaking. There are two routes to the bottom; we chose "Wall Street," which is a trail that spirals down into the canyon. The perspective from the bottom is totally different from the view at the top. What was amazing was the variety of flora that seems to thrive in the harsh environment, with very little sunlight and little soil to cling to. This was an incredible and very worthwhile experience.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce, UT 84717
The shuttles within the park stop at designated areas every 10 minutes or so, starting at 6:30am, with the last one back to the park entrance at around 10:15pm. There are a few shuttle stops with gift shops and food service where you can buy refreshments or meals.
Each stop has hiking trails with degree of difficulty well marked; many of them are easy to moderate, but several are strenuous or difficult, involving narrow, high trails or slippery slopes. Hiking times range from half an hour to eight hours. If you will be hiking, it is highly recommended that you take plenty of water, and snacks for hikes of longer duration. During late spring and summer months, it gets quite hot – 90 degrees or more.
Zion is an awesomely beautiful park. Canyon walls thrust straight up 2,000 feet in all directions, in various colors of red, gray, and white. Every turn in the road provides a new perspective. We saw several groups of rock climbers throughout the day, challenging the sheer cliff walls of the canyon.
We hiked on several easy-to-moderate trails. One trail, Emerald Pools, took us slightly under a canyon wall that had waterfalls. The spray from the waterfalls was refreshing on a hot day. We continued to the middle "pool," where we stopped to observe thousands of tadpoles in the pools and many different species of butterflies flitting around.
Another memorable hike was Riverside Walk/Temple of Sinawava, which is a paved path that leads to the edge of the Virgin River. From there, you can hike through the river to The Narrows, which is an area of slot canyons. Based on some people we talked to, it’s best if you have special water shoes and waterproof backpacks. We were told that the slot canyons are about a mile upstream, against the current, and that the water at times was chest-high. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take that hike on this trip, but it’s a "must-do" for our next time out here. We were told the slot canyons are an incredible sight to see.
A portion of Zion that is less well-known is Kolob Canyon, which is a little bit more distant than the main entrance to Zion. Cars are allowed in this part of the park. We hiked to the Timber Creek Overlook, which provides a beautiful vista of the valley below and canyon walls all around. This trail ends in a more open area, and it can get quite windy, so hold onto your hat!