Utah - The Great Outdoors part one

Zion National Park, Utah

Utah is beautiful. To properly explore this area you would need months, even years to do it justice, and my friend Danielle has been doing just that. She is an avid camper and hiker and explores when she can. On this trip she offered to take us camping, the hardest decision of which is which gorgeous place to choose from? Utah is like a top class buffet of nature, with a large amount of land set aside for public use. There are the Canyonlands, The Arches, Escalante, and more, literally thousands of square kilometers of options. We settled for a quick taster through the south of Utah including Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, and whatever else we saw along the way.

At every park you visit, the rangers will provide a colour brochure with some information and at the larger parks a seasonal broadsheet with extra information including special events and more detailed information regarding activities. I recommend that you visit the visitors centres for any further information as the staff are more than happy to help you enjoy the areas. A word of note though, there can be a large line of people in peak season at the larger parks. Also, it is very hard to take a bad picture, it is so very photogenic. Be sure to click on one of the thumbnails and go through the gallery.

Temple of Sinawava, Zion National Park, UtahZion National Park is located where the Colorado Plateau, Great basin and Mojave Desert meet, and has four separate habitats. The primary feature of the park is the Canyon stretching for 24 kilometres.

Zion Canyon has several options for accommodation including two campgrounds and the Lodge. The campgrounds have good facilities although there are no showers, each site is sizeable enough for a car or small campervan, a tent and fire pit. The watchman campground can be booked up to six months in advance ($16-$20) but the South Campground ($16) is first come first serve. If you don’t want to stay in the park there are quite a few other options outside the park at Springdale or Rockville.

There are 18 trails listed for the park, 15 of which are located in the canyon area. Zion canyon gets so busy that between April and October they restrict private vehicles from the scenic drive and provide a shuttle bus instead. Check the guide that is provided to you for service start and finish times. Most of the shuttle stops have access to drinking water and toilets. The scenic drive is around 12 kilometres long from the Visitor centre to Temple of Sinawava.

The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

As we were only staying one night here, we opted to begin at the end of the Canyon with The Temple of Sinawava and The Narrows. This is actually two walks combined, the Riverside (3.5kms round) and Narrows (11kms round) Walks. The Riverside walk is an easy trail with wheelchair access, a broad trail is has easy for all ages to walk, taking you beside the river between majestic cliff faces. At the end the gorge opens up slightly for the temple then continues onward through the narrows. The Narrows is a river walk where you wade through the river, the depth of which varies from ankle to thigh deep. The river bottom is also variable with areas of smooth sand and small pebbles to large submerged rocks. The Narrows is considered a strenuous walk which also has a range of advice to go with it. Check with the visitors centre for weather conditions before this hike. Danielle told me that there is another way to see the Narrows which is approaching it from the other end via the Subway. Which I think I may have to return for.

The Grotto to Emerald Pools, Zion National Park, UtahWe also walked the trail from The Grotto through the Emerald Pools (6.7kms linear). The first half of the trail is listed as a moderate with the final 2kms an easy paved trail. The trail from the Grotto takes you on a relatively gentle uphill before flattening out and providing an excellent view of the canyon. After 1 1/2kms the trail splits between the upper and lower Emerald pools. The upper pools provide an excellent place to relax, nestled in a lightly forested nook the pool sits at the bottom of a sheer cliff face. Walking to the lower pool requires a steep descent but is a good trail which curves around under a ledge with a small waterfall that feeds the pools. The final decent is very easy.

Zion is a beautiful place with many activities for people including hiking, canyoneering, horse riding and mountain climbing. Two or three nights should be plenty to explore the park, and if you want there is a backpacking hike available by permit.


Emerald Pools, Zion National Park, UtahZion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah

Willis Creek, Grand Escalante Staircase State Park, Utah

Also in Southern Utah is the Grand Escalante Staircase, a national monument located next to Bryce Canyon. The staircase offers an incredible view of the geological stratification of the area, and is considered to be one of the most comprehensive open stratifications on Earth. A vast area, it was the last location mapped in the US and was declared a nation monument in 1996. Scientists of numerous fields utilise the area for research including studies of bees and pollination in desert environments to NASA searching for water on Mars. There a dozens of opportunities to explore and appreciate the Staircase, depending upon the direction you approach it.

Willis Creek, Grand Escalante Staircase State Park, UtahWe stopped off at a ranger’s station in Cannonville, on the north eastern edge of the Staircase, to see if there was anything in the area we could explore in a few hours before we drove north. We were told about Willis Creek, a narrow and shallow slot canyon that has been carved into the desert. Willis is a series of five slots that are quite beautiful to behold, smooth rock faces reaching twenty metres or more above the creek that formed them. Canyons are beautiful and often grand; slot canyons are subtle in comparison.  For the most part you are up close to the rock and walking in the river or creek as it carves out potential future notoriety. It was an excellent diversion and quite refreshing to experience the subtle beauty of nature after the grandeur of others.

Continued in part two



Willis Creek, Grand Escalante Staircase State Park, UtahOther USA Articles

Alamosa, Colorado

Colorado - The Great Outdoors

American Conservation Experience - Catalina Island

Catalina Island - USC Indigenous Food Experience

Salt Lake City

Utah – Food & Liquor in the Land of Purity

Utah - The Great Outdoors part two

Joomla! Debug Console


Profile Information

Memory Usage

Database Queries