The Month of Zion

Fall color was fading fast in Ridgway, CO and the reports from Zion NP were encouraging so we headed back down to the SW corner of Utah. Again, we used the Home Depot parking lot in Cedar City as a place to hang for a couple of nights and plan where to stay while exploring Zion.

We opted to secure a FHU site in the town of Hurricane (pronounced “Her-ah-kun” by the locals) at the WillowWind RV Park for a full month. We needed a pause in our moving pace and knew we wanted to take our time exploring Zion. The fall colors were just barely starting so Patrica used the early part of our stay to concentrate on photography and web projects. In hindsight, we think this was a stroke of genius! The weather was warmer in Hurricane and we were much closer to city shopping (like St. George).

I really enjoyed geocaching in the area. Most took me hiking on desert trails or to mountain tops – just the way I like it!

Even with a full month to explore, we still didn’t get around to everything the park has to offer but here are the highlights of the places we did get to see:

Kolob Canyons – Dramatic and colorful sandstone mountains with narrow box canyons. We hiked the Timber Creek Overlook trail to a great viewpoint of the canyons.

Checkerboard Mesa – Unusual pattern of weathering sandstone hills that resemble the grid of a checkerboard. We walked the creek washes between the hills looking for scenes of fall colors in the creek side vegetation against the backdrop of those patterned hills.

Emerald Pools – A short hike on the Grotto trail to pools of…you guessed it, emerald green water! Due to low water levels at the time of our visit the water was not as brilliant as normal but pretty just the same. Lots of people on this hike making nature photography rather difficult.

The Narrows – An extremely popular hike and one of the funnest, as I see it. This is the narrowest canyon in the park and produces spectacular photographic images with streams of light illuminating colorful sandstone walls oddly shaped by the constant erosion of wind and water. We had a great hiking experience one day wading nearly mid-thigh depth in cold rushing water! We rented the common hike package of neoprene socks, neoprene waders, canyoneering shoes and a sturdy hiking staff. Highly recommended!

The Subway – By FAR the most strenuous hike either one of us has EVER done! This was a must-do bucket list photo shoot for Patricia. I came along for moral support and well, there was an Earthcache to claim as well! The Subway hike deserves a post all it’s own but for now I will summarize. Read the Bottom Up route description in the provided link. We began and concluded the excursion in darkness! Twelve hours! Nine miles up a canyon with no real trail to follow – exhausting! Despite the difficulty of this day, Patricia was really happy to have the chance to photograph a very unique combination of water and stone. Never again! Maybe…..

Yant Flats – Outside Zion but not too far away is a very colorful area of exposed rock with stripes of red, orange and white arrayed in swirls, circular mounts and eroded ravines. One especially photogenic portion of the area is called Candy Cliffs. This is a lesser known location and doesn’t get nearly the amount of attention Zion does but we hung around for hours because of the many photo compositions available. Little more than a mile hike (one way) and a long drive on dirt are involved in getting there. Someone was nice enough to place a whole string of geocaches along the entire route! Yay for me!

Snow Canyon State Park – Another beautiful location with an expanse of red and white eroding sandstone hills. Access is pretty easy from St. George and paved the whole way with many trail heads throughout the driving route. We only spent one day there and hiked a moderate loop called the Petrified Dunes trail.

What a month! Hurricane is now added to the list of towns to which we want to return. But for now, it’s getting colder and we must move southward!