Utah is sacred for its unparalleled landscapes – so much so that it has five National Parks dedicated to that landscapes protection. They have earned their nickname among the environmental community as The Mighty 5.
This is Rachel’s pal Ellie writing to you from Utah. I also have my own travel blog Roadtripable coming at you with plenty of Utah facts and to-do’s for your potential visit. I lived in the Minnesota/Wisconsin area until a job took me out west to Northern Utah in 2016. Since then I have done my best to explore my new state but I have so much more to see.
I would consider Zion the flagship park of the Mighty 5. It’s sheer red rock walls dominate overhead as you first enter the park. Although Zion National Park is in the Utah desert it has a surprising amount of green plant life that contrasts beautifully with its walls. Over the millennia the Virgin River has cut her way through the park and created the place that we see today. Although the river looks languid and mild now, as recent as 1995 it caused a landslide that blocked the one major road through the park.
Since then, Zion has replaced its public road with a shuttle service to reduce congestion and to try and keep the beauty of the park unspoiled. Tourists can get to the mouth of the Virgin River by taking the shuttle service to the last stop, Temple of Sinawava. Once you get off there is the paved River Walk trail which leads to the most unique hike in Utah. Zion tourists can tramp through the Virgin river into the famous Narrow’s Slot Canyons for the most incredible hike.
If you have never been to Southern Utah then hitting up a slot canyon should be high on your priority list. The smooth sandstone walls blend together into colorful rainbows of rock. The pebbles under your feet are continually sent miles down the river during each rainfall. The sky above is only a blue sliver peeking out between sheer rock walls. The Narrows is the pinnacle of this experience. The hike can be as long as you want it to be. When I went with my family we hiked for five hours but still had not made it halfway through. I would highly recommend reading my post about how to prepare for this hike from my blog 3 Thing to Consider Before Visiting Zion National Park so that you can make it as far, or farther, than we did. If you are determined to hike the entire trail then you can apply for a permit for the top-down route which involves canyoneering and an overnight in the slots. New bucket list goal for me!
I can’t write a post about Zion without talking about Angel’s Landing. It is so notorious that different sections of the hike have their own name. ‘Walters Wiggles’, ‘The Catwalk’, and finally ‘Angels landing’ are some descriptive nicknames for what to expect on this trail. This life changing hike is not for the faint of heart.
Walters Wiggles as you can imagine are a stretch of switchbacks helping you climb in altitude to the plateau at the top. The Catwalk is what made Angel’s Landing so famous. A steel chain staked into the ground is all you have to support yourself from falling as you make your way towards the landing. Did I mention that there is only room enough on the trail for a single file line? Those brave enough for the catwalk are rewarded with Angels Landing; broad, sweeping views of the Virgin River and the spires of red rock carved by it. I can imagine the feeling of accomplishment for those that make it to the end is incredibly rewarding. During my visit to Zion this trail was closed due to wind so I was not able to hike it. Rachel will have to come out to visit and we can brave this one together.
Coming up next post is Arches National Park, the other one I’ve been to. I aim to check all five boxes in the next year so I’ll come back and update this once I have been to Bryce, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands. Rach hold me to that, okay?!