ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH

September 2017

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

To celebrate my birthday, I decided to head to Zion National Park for some exploring, climbing, canyoneering, and long-distance hiking. That sounds like a lot, and it is,but when you cram in as much as possible, you get to see a lot, and leave knowing you saw the best parts of the park.

 I researched the best things to see, the least populated parts of the park and the top canyoneering and climbing spots. 

 

From there, I printed off maps, applied for backcountry, canyoneering and hiking permits within the park...and then I sat and waited. The park has a last minute lottery and you don't find out until 2 days before the day of your permit. BUT, thats ok. If everything got denied, I knew I could just go explore some remote places in the park.

I came to Zion when I was really little, but I don't really remember it. Seeing as this was my first trip in adulthood, I was excited. A lot of unknown awaited us. 

 

The following are MUST DO's if you end up in Zion NP.

Angels Landing:

They rate this hike as difficult, mostly for the last push, because you are hiking along a cliff that runs 1,000 get down on both sides of you. However, it wasn't difficult, and for those with a fear of heights...they have chains and hand holds for you the entire way up. DO IT. The view was one of my favorites of the entire park. We were lucky and barely saw anyone on the entire hike. 

Make it more challenging: Access Angels Landing via the West Rim Trail and make the few hour hike an all-day excursion,

Time: 3 hours RT

Distance: 5.2 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft.

Permit Required: No

The Narrows (Top to Bottom):

Slot canyons are a unique feature of Utah. If you don't mind spending your day hiking a full 16 miles through knee to waist deep water...then do this hike. It's a long day, slow going through the water. They estimate 12-14 hours through the canyon, but it took us 9 hours with a couple of breaks. It's awesome. I think 16 miles of slot canyons really gives you a good feel for slot canyons (obviously), and its really cool to see the canyon change from top to bottom. 

Make it Easier: Get an overnight camping permit and split the 16 miles between 2 days

Time: 9 hours (the park estimates 12-14)

Distance: 16.7 miles

Elevation Gain: -120 ft

Permit Required: Yes

Toquerville Falls

This hidden gem takes a bit of determination to get to. DO NOT go here if you don't have 4WD and high clearance on your car. The road accessing these falls is terrible, and you will get stuck without the right vehicle. What I loved about these falls is that they appear in the middle of the dessert. A little oasis, which is refreshing when it's 100 degrees outside. It's a perfect pit stop as you are heading into or leaving the park. (These falls are NOT in Zion NP).

Driving Time: 1hr+ on the dirt road

Distance from Zion NP: 15 miles

Permit Required: No

1/2
1/2

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTO BY: KELLI SPENCER

PHOTOs BY: KELLI SPENCER & DUNCAN HUTCHINSON