On our last day with Karen, Josh and Melissa, we drove north through the tunnel to hike the Canyon Overlook Trail, the shortest hike in the park that provides a view of the canyon. It has some unique features that keep it interesting, but the views are spectacular.
People were lined up to come up as we were going back down. It’s a very small parking lot, so a lot of people park along the road, which makes driving hazardous.
Martha asked me recently what my favorite park has been on this trip. I don’t know that I have a favorite. They are all spectacular in their own way, or they wouldn’t have become a national park, but Zion has to be the most photogenic!
Back at camp, Karen and the kids packed up, and we drove to St. George Regional Airport. It’s a small, but very modern airport. Karen said no one was at the counter when they went in, but it all worked out, and they arrived home the next morning safe, but very tired.
Much has been written about Angel’s Landing Trail; how difficult it is; how scary it is and how dangerous it is. There is a narrow section to cross at the top where two steel cables give you something to hold onto. I told Karen I would give it a go, but reserved the right to turn back at any time. We couldn’t get tickets to take the last part, but we could hike to an Scout Lookout just before the crazy part, which was fine with me.
An excellent, paved path wound up and around the mountain, gaining 1,100′ in altitude. I had to stop to catch my breath a number of times, but we made it to the Lookout along with a bunch of others. I was surprised to see bathrooms up there! It is, however, the most popular and highly-rated hikes in the southwest. the views were spectacular, but I was happy we weren’t going the rest of the way. My legs were shaky enough from hiking up, and cliffs and steep fall-offs scare me to death! If I made it, I’m sure Martha could have made it too.
It has been hot, very hot, in Zion National Park. Temperatures soar over 100o in the middle of the day. Our air conditioner can’t keep up, often tripping the 30amp breaker to the Inverter. Makes us all a bit grumpy mid-day. Our routine is to get out early and hike, come back for lunch, quiet hour, then an afternoon hike.
The afternoon hike was The Watchman, for which our campground is named. The trail winds around a canyon and to the top of a mesa. Two REI tour guides were giving a tour, so we got to listen to the comments. The mountain is called The Watchman because it is the last in line and looks back up the valley at all the other mountains that make up Zion National Park.
As we stood admiring the scenery, a man in his 60’s came for his afternoon run, jogging past the people, down the mesa, back up, then down the trail! It is a beautiful spot and well-worth the effort.
You cannot drive on the Scenic Drive, so we took the bus. They come every five minutes or so, and are very efficient and polite, often giving the weather report and offering advice for the each stop. Zion is a very busy park, but they do a wonderful job of managing it.
We got off at the Court of The Patriots, where magnificent mountains surround a small cove. Then we set out to hike the Emerald Pools Trail. The pools weren’t in their full splendor, but the scenery was magnificent. I took a video of a showering, 200′ waterfall, but it requires more data than I have on my phone to upload. I put this on my “Favorite Hikes” list. With a waterfall (and another when it rains), pools and spectacular scenery, what better way to spend a couple of hours!
We drove north from Cannonville, through Tropic and Bryce on Rt. 12 and turned south on 89. I read an article called “Everything’s Fine on 89”, which I can’t find now. From https://usroute89.com: “Tour seven National parks, fourteen National Monuments and three Heritage Areas all on one road. It runs north/south from Canada to Mexico, named #1 Drivers’ Drive in the World by National Geographic.” There is a Road Trip Map Book on US Route 89. We have driven it several times on this trip, but I may have to make a point of driving all of it.
We stopped at the Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel so the tunnel could be cleared for us to drive the 1-mile tunnel right down the middle. Having ripped off the air conditioner from my trailer on a covered bridge, I am a bit sensitive about tunnels and bridges. This one is pretty cool though, and an incredible engineering feat. Zion’s mountains are breath-taking.
We stopped for lunch at an overlook, taking pictures on both sides of the road. I talked to a man who parked his brand new Bronco behind us. It’s a pretty car with some great features. He said he had waited seven months to get it, but it was worth it. He loves it!
We wound our way down the valley walled by incredible, towering mountains on both sides. We turned into Watchman Campground and backed into a nice site, B20 and set up. It was hot, very hot, so we walked down to the Virgin River, a beautiful, clear stream and stepped in. There is a toxic Cyanobacterium Bloom in the river, so we are warned not to submerge your head or drink the water.
Upstream, people sat in chairs in the water while their dogs romped up and down stream. Too bad because the stream is a great relief from the heat, and we want to hike The Narrows, which follows the river up a narrow canyon.
Our air conditioner can’t keep up with this heat. It trips the 30 amp breaker to the Inverter, which gets very hot. I have to let it rest a while before trying it again. Between cell phone reception and heat, our guests’ nerves are getting tested. The kids have been on a number of trips with us, so they are pretty familiar with the Airstream. This is the first extended trip for Karen, so she has a lot more to get used to. I admire her resolve. Our routine is to do a hike in the morning, come back, have lunch, take a nap and another hike in the evening.
We set out the next morning to hike The Narrows. I went in my fishing boots, while Martha and Josh rented wading boots. We all rented walking sticks. It’s a cool hike, not unlike trout fishing where you wade from one side to the other, or along a path on the side as you navigate upstream. The man at the rental center said it gets up to your chest in places, so I didn’t bring my camera. It never got up to my waist. especially coming back down, Melissa happily walked right down the middle of the stream, enjoying the cool waters.
Karen and I commented on the crowds not being so bad, but as these things go, around the next corner, the hoards came upstream, carrying dogs and babies.
It’s a cool hike to where the stream splits. Going further would eliminate 96% of the crowd, but we turned around at the fork.