We began our planning for a return trip to Zion on our drive back from the first trip (for reference, see a couple of posts back where we went and it was so packed we couldn’t get a parking space). So, the night before our return trip we had packed backpacks, chilled plenty of water and Gatorade and packed several Cliff Bars. By the way, the Pumpkin Spice Cliff bars are out and quite yummy! The day of our return to Zion we got up early, walked the pups, ate a good breakfast, and were out the door in the hope of a good parking space.
The drive to Zion wasn’t too long, but we did lose an hour crossing a time zone. Sherry was frustrated because she has a watch that has decided it won’t always let her set the time when she tries. It likes to choose whether or not it is going to work. It did not work this time, so she was stuck looking at a watch that was an hour behind the actual time in Zion. Annoying, but what can you do with a finicky watch? When we got to the entrance, we were stuck in a long line of cars waiting to pass through the gates. No worries, we had planned for this. If we couldn’t park at the visitor’s center, we would head back a few miles to town and catch the excellent shuttle bus into the park. The shuttle service at Zion is really very good and consists of two loops. One circles into the nearby town of Springdale and the many areas for public parking. The other loops from the visitor’s center along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. That road is essentially closed to all traffic but shuttle buses. Fortunately, we got one of the last spots at the visitor’s center and were able to catch the Canyon Loop Shuttle to our first destination: the Temple of Sinawava which is where the trailhead for the Riverside Walk and The Narrows begin. The ride is about 40 minutes long with stops along the way at various trailheads and scenic views.
One of our ‘must do’ hikes on this trip was an area called The Narrows. We had heard from several fellow RV’rs about how unique this hike was and we were looking forward to it. The ride on the shuttle was enjoyable. The park service has a good audio presentation that hits some of the highlights along the route. Our driver was also kind enough to point out several deer as we drove past.
The hike to the narrows begins on the Riverside trail. This is a paved and moderate trail with one early side excursion off to see the river.
Before the trailhead there is a warning sign regarding the dangers of flash flooding. Tragically, just a day before we arrived in the area in September several hikers were killed in the narrows when they were caught in a flash flood.
It had rained the two days prior to our hike, but we checked the forecast that day and double checked the warning signs at the park and were good to go. The Riverside section of the trail is lovely. It is easy to forget one is going through a desert. There is even a small swamp along the trail!
In several areas ground water is forced through permeable layers of the cliff sides creating ‘weeping’ walls and hanging gardens.
The Riverside Trail abruptly ends where the Virgin River cuts through the Narrows. The Narrows is a steep sided gorge cut by the river; cliffs rise hundreds of feet on both sides. The day we arrived was warm, but with the sun blocked by the cliffs and the cold river water running through the gorge, there was a definite chill to the air.
It only got colder when we stepped into the river to begin hiking up the narrows. BRRRR. We knew this was coming and had planned on how best to approach our shoe situation. Many people along the trail had rented water shoes, some went barefoot, others in sandals…. We decided to stick to our Keen hiking shoes. They had great traction, even in wet conditions and were waterproof (although with water getting knee deep in some areas that didn’t matter). Sherry also brought along a pair of hiking sandles for after and several pairs of socks (Sean would later borrow a pair of dry socks). The water was frigid, and we couldn’t imagine how some people had open shoes or no shoes at all! Too cold!
The hike was beautiful and surreal. We were amazed to see so many other hikers with us on the ‘trail’. Stopping every so often, we would gaze up at the sky overhead, framed by the rock walls. Small falls occurred in several areas along the trail and always, the constant sound of water over rocks.
We were glad to be able to add this very different hike to one of our adventures. If you visit the park, this hike is a must see. The total hike is 10 miles round trip and is estimated to take 8 hours. We only hiked into the first mile of the watery trail, but Sherry keeps saying that we should go back and do the whole thing just to say that we did it. Who knows, we might write another blog in the next week sharing that we traversed the whole thing. We wouldn’t bring the good camera this time, and we might rent some water boots and poles this time. We were not aware ahead of time how deep the water actually got in some spots. This may have been because of the rain two days earlier though. In any case, we are still thinking we have several days in the area. We wouldn’t want to “shoulda, coulda, woulda” the opportunity. There’s also a hike called Angel’s Landing that is supposed to be spectacular. It was closed for repair while we were there, but it is supposed to reopen this week. We may have some items to put back on our list. Lol.
Zion is a wonderful national park with many sites to see. We have several other places in this area that we want to see before we move on, so stay tuned for more adventure!
If you would like to see a full gallery of the photos from Zion, click the link below: