If you are new to the blog, this is a post recap of a 3 week road trip my boyfriend Louie and I took last summer. I know it’s been awhile since then, but I wanted to share it with you and for myself. I’m deep into planning for this year’s vacation, and already brainstorming next year (Glacier and Yellowstone are top of the list) so I figured I’d finally get this done. Or closer. So much to tell you!
We had a reservation at Watchman Campground in Zion for two nights. It was a “walk-in” site, which mean we’d park a little ways away from the campsite. I thought this would be cool, for less traffic sounds, though, it would mean, more carrying things.
Since we were coming in from the East, we came in through the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway and would have to (get to) go through the Tunnel there.
Somehow the landscape had already completely changed from where we were earlier in the day. Unbelievable. Anyway, after you enter the park, you go through a 1 mile tunnel, and then the view just opens up into this incredible scenery, with terrifying switchback turns and places to pull over and breathtakingly try to capture it all on photo, which of course we did.
Anyway, we got to the “camp” area of the park, and smugly drove past all the “campground full” signs to check in for our TWO NIGHT reservation. Unbelievable, right? We wouldn’t have to put the tent back up the next night!
Now here I just can’t remember, did we set up camp first and then go in search of sightseeing opportunities, or the other way around? I can’t recall, but I’m guessing so as that is very much my style.
I took all the tent photos on my phone to instagram them. And most of the other photos were on a point and shoot Canon I have. It’s probably not as good as the phone camera, ha, but it’s got a strap and is definitely better to whip out on the trail.
The campsite was just a bit set back, and quite near other “walk-in” campsites, but ours was in the back, near some trees and a mountain. A deer was hanging out nearby as we set up camp. We had our own bear box so we loaded that up with things that bears like. (Remember, the bear box is SAFE from bears.)
And then we caught a shuttle near the visitor’s center. I was getting pretty hot, so we rode a bit, and then decided to get out and walk on an easy trail back to the camp, the Pa’rus Trail.
As you can see, Zion is pretty beautiful. It’s far lusher than the other places, and I guess some might call it God’s Country, hence all the religious names. That picture really has it all, doesn’t it?
We decided to go out for dinner. Something we had learned about Zion is that there is a brewpub right nearby! We just had to walk out of the campground, over a short bridge over the river, and boom! There was a small shopping area with the Zion Brewing Company.
It was nice to sit and have a sandwich and a beer and relax. We were happy to not cook, and then we were happy to go back to the campsite and relax.
The next morning we woke up early to catch the shuttle to get out to hike to Observation Point. Leslie had said she thought this was the best hike in Zion, even though most people talked about Angel’s Landing. (I was terrified of Angel’s Landing, as there is a part with chains to hold onto so you don’t fall to your death, so we were postponing it). We got going quite early, as was our habit, and in retrospect, we were extra glad. The hike started out with a huge climb, but the views were really worth it the whole time. (Did I say that at the time? Probably not. Probably I complained a lot.)
The higher we climbed, the better the views were! There were some scary parts for me, but I stayed on the inside and kept moving and it was manageable. (I have a terrible fear of heights.)
And then we finally got to the top, where we rested and had our lunch. WHAT a view! We were higher than Angel’s Landing (that’s right) and could see such a long way.
Then the clouds started rolling in, and we thought, we’d better get back down.
So we headed down, and the storm didn’t hit until we were very near the end. And when it hit, it hit hard. We waited for the shuttle in the pouring rain, got on the shuttle in the pouring rain, got back to camp and ran for the car, where we sat.
We were glad we’d staked the tent down well, because this was a doozy of a storm. When the hail started up, I thought the windshield was going to break. It was pouring rain, huge hail, and so windy. Thunder and lightning galore! We sat in the car, listening to the sound of the hail making dents in the car (for 15 minutes! I’m not even kidding!), and then finally the storm had passed through. We got out and surveyed the damage. At first we thought it wasn’t so bad, but then we realized, yes, the car was completely covered in hail dings. But, the “window” the bear had taken out was still there, our tent was still standing, luckily, and seemed secure enough to withstand more.
(This is from Capitol Reef, but you can see the duct taped window, can’t you? Zoom in.)
We moved a few things away from the edges of the tent, and decided…well, too rainy to cook. Better just go back over the “town” area and eat at the brewery.
It was a little early though, so we thought we’d get a coffee first. Keep in mind, originally we’d though we’d finish our hike and then do something else, but this storm was insane. We’d heard some huge cracks of thunder in addition to the hail, and then when we stopped to ask a ranger the forecast we heard about this: A “house-sized” boulder blocking the road several miles away! The calm river we’d walked over the day before (on a bridge) was rushing with water, with maybe only a foot of clearance. And the road we’d driven in on the day before was closed indefinitely. And the park closed as well, which didn’t mean we couldn’t walk around, but did mean they weren’t letting any new visitors in, unless you were at the campground.
Another storm hit while we were getting coffee, and finally we decided it was time to give up on any more sightseeing and have a drink and a burger of sorts again. We kept trying to check the weather to see what ELSE would be happening, (in case we ought to actually get out of there before nighttime) but finally decided the storms seemed to be moving through. After dinner we went back to the campground, and made sure everything was still dry enough to sleep. We were lucky, for the record. There were a few campsites that got washed away in the flash floods, but we were on high enough ground.
The next morning, we had to get up early to pack up, and we moved the car to the visitor’s center parking lot and then caught the shuttle to hike Angel’s Landing. We decided to hike it because Louie really wanted to, and there was a place I could wait while he finished the part with the chains that I wasn’t about to do.
This was a little scary too, some switchbacks. Not too bad though.
Anyway, we got to the place to wait, and wait I did. I even chatted with a few people—I wasn’t the only one waiting while the rest of my party did the scary part, though I was one of the only ones totally okay with it! (I felt I’d done enough things to fight my fears and was totally fine letting this one get me.) One woman brilliantly had a thermos of coffee with her and I had some.
Louie bravely continuing on. I thought this part looked scary enough but later he’d have to go through a part where both sides of a chain had steep drop offs. Crazy.
This little guy really wanted my peanut butter pretzels, but I wasn’t going to let him. He finally left me alone but bothered some other people. Of course I’d love to feed him but you really shouldn’t feed wild animals (besides the illegality of it, it’s bad for them.)
and finally Louie reappeared! He didn’t die!
He’s very brave! He said the hike was awesome and that I would have been terrified. In case you are wondering why all the pictures are of him, it’s because (ahem, ahem) the pictures of me are on his memory card/camera which he hasn’t uploaded yet!
After that we took the shuttle back to the visitor’s center and then took one more short hike, the Archeology Trail. It wasn’t very exciting, but we did seem some really cool lizards.
And we got a nice view of the campground from above.
Sadly, we had to leave Zion for our next destination, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We stopped in the nearby town of Springdale for supplies and lunch (Mexican!) before really hitting the road.
Nights Camping: 12
Miles Hiked (estimate): 78