Majestic Zion

We started a nine-day hiking trip in Southern Utah at Zion National Park. It’s a spectacular park, with stunning geology. We spent three days here, and loved every minute of it.

To get here, we flew from Boston, through Chicago, to my least favorite city, Las Vegas, Nevada. We survived Las Vegas, largely because we spent just a few hours there before heading east to Zion. But we did go to a couple of the hotels, and drove down the strip, just so our kids could see it.

We’re here in early June, which is a great time to explore the parks of Southern Utah. A few weeks earlier might have been ideal, but the temperature, while hot (high 80′s to low 90′s), is great, there’s no humidity, and only an occasional rain shower. Many of the wild flowers are out in bloom, and it’s not terribly crowded.

One of the great things about Zion is that it offers many hiking options, from short and flat to downright scary. I was here years ago and did Angels Landing, which is a strenuous hike to the top of the mountain at the left. It’s not just a real challenge to make the climb up, but it has many places where there is a narrow (3-4 feet) hiking path, a chain on a vertical wall on one side, and a drop of 1000 feet or more on the other. Needless to say, if you don’t like hikes, this isn’t for you.

We didn’t take on Angels Landing, but had a great climb up to Hidden Canyon. On the left is a picture of our two children making the passage along one of Zion’s famous narrow passages with very steep drops. I don’t know how many people fall each year, but while you’re on the hike, the answer seems likes it has to be a very big number.

One of the great things about Zion is the geology of the park. The rock structures are made of sandstone, and show the most beautiful patterns. On some rock structures, you can see ripples that resemble what you’d see on a lake on a windy afternoon, only these are etched in rock that’s millions of years old.

We stayed at the Zion Mountain Lodge here, which was a so-so experience. It’s on the east side of the park, and we’d recommend staying either in the park at the Zion Lodge, or on the west side in a town called Springdale (small, but charming). Where we stayed was nice physically, but the service stunk. When we checked in, the owner told Elizabeth that the air conditioning in our unit was out. When she asked when they’d have it operational, he responded, “Who knows? If you don’t like it, just leave.” So much for customer service.

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