June 1 – June 8th 2023
After leaving the Grand Canyon area we headed to Zion River Resort which put us just a half hour from the entrance to Zion National Park.
The RV park was nice. We gave it an A for the large sites and access to the river, but Reba gave it a D for the dog park that was severely lacking in space and grass.
The first day we did a drive through the park on the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway. It was a beautiful drive. We did see some folks bring their smaller rigs through that way, but I would not recommend it. It was plenty adventurous taking the F350 on the switchbacks, curves and through the tunnel!
The 5,000 foot long tunnel was built in the 1920s and is just big enough for a single lane of regular sized vehicles in each direction. There are set hours where you can bring a larger vehicle in. When an RV or other large vehicle approaches, they shut down one side at a time so everyone can get through safely.
We stopped for pictures at Checkerboard Mesa. You can see weathering marks that make the mesa look like, you guessed it, a checkerboard!
The Zion Mount Carmel Highway is the only portion of the main park where you can drive yourself. To keep the crowds manageable, they have closed the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to personal vehicles and have a well run bus system that will take you around the rest of the main park.
Months before we got to Zion I saw that in order to hike Angels Landing that you needed a pass, so being naive, I put myself in the lottery for one and….I got approved. I found out later that Angels Landing is one of the most dangerous hikes in the US. After hiking in Sedona, I got enough confidence that I kept the pass and decided to give it a try.
Angels Landing begins at the end of the Scout Lookout trail so the day of my permit I decided to hike Scout Lookout and just see what I thought when I got there.
Scout Lookout trail is only 3.5 miles round trip, but the 1100 feet of elevation gain made it one of the most challenging hikes I have done to date. Tim’s max agreed upon trail is 2 miles and 200 feet of elevation, so I did this one on my own. It is HARD – and the views are GORGEOUS!
It took me over an hour to get to the top. I had to stop many, many times to catch my breath, grab some water and take in the scenery.
Once I had time to rest, I made my way to the start of Angels Landing, which is the permitted part of the hike. Angels Landing only adds .4 miles to the hike (.8 round trip) but it is a 400 foot elevation gain on the way up and sheer drop offs on both sides of the trail in many areas. It is also VERY crowded, so as you navigate the thin trail and sheer drop offs you are often wiggling your way past climbers going in the other direction as you cling to heavy chains placed to keep people from falling.
Since I had a much coveted pass, I decided to at least do the first little bit and you can see me hanging on the chains on the very first, easiest part of the climb below. I did not make it to the top and I do not feel badly about that decision. 🙂
We spent another day at the park riding the bus and checking out some of the other gorgeous trails. Tim and I did the Riverside Walk and the short (but high) hike to Weeping Rock. I had hoped to at least do a portion of the Narrows hike, but it was closed due to high velocity of the water in the river.
I did part of the Emerald Pools hike by myself and it was nice, but not as inspiring as the others.
I will definitely come back and spend more time in Zion National Park. Next time I’d try to book far in advance and see if we could stay in the park. The sites are much more primitive, but you would not have to worry about parking (it is a HUGE issue) and we would be able to be in the park at night – which I’m sure is spectacular.