Last year, I went on a very unplanned three-day road trip, which took me through Nevada and Utah. Though it was a fun trip, I always knew that I would return one day with a more solid travel itinerary. There was so much to see, but I could only fit a portion of each site due to the spontaneity of our trip. Opportunity came knocking at my door when I received my new job offer and I could finally take my first vacation of the year in between jobs. So, without hesitation, I took it!
I embarked on a 5-destination road trip with my #1 travel partner in crime, my sister. We started our road trip from Vegas in order to shorten our driving time. Luckily, my sister already drove to Vegas from LA for the weekend so we had the comfort of our own car. In all other cases, I would highly recommend renting a car from Vegas if you are interested in visiting any of the sites of the Grand Canyon circuit.
Our first destination was Zion National Park in Utah, located only 2.5 hours out from Vegas. I still remembered how beautiful everything was at Zion from my first trip and could not wait to return. On my last trip, we could only fit a few of the smaller trails into our trip. Of these, the Upper Emerald Pool (pictured below) and Weeping Rock are a couple of sites worth seeing.
In my last trip, we heard countlessly that the best hikes were Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. Angel’s Landing is a challenging hike along a narrow rock fin that ends with drop-offs and magnificent views on both sides. The Narrows is the path carved by the Virgin River through Zion National Park. It is the most popular hike, but requires some preparation beforehand. The trail is open to all hikers without a permit only up to Big Springs from the last shuttle stop, Temple of Sinawava. To hike the entire length, a permit is required. It is a one-day, one-direction hike from the top of The Narrows down. You will need to be fully equipped with food, hiking supplies and appropriate shoes to hike either trail. On this trip, my sister and I came prepared. We had our water shoes ready to hike through the Virgin River of The Narrows and even signed up for the top-down hiking permit. We arrived at the hiking permit desk to discover that the weather forecast included rainfall and major flash flood warnings. Since my sister and I are not big hikers to begin with, we decided against doing the full-day, top-down hike and would go from the bottom up in The Narrows as far as the weather would permit. No rain would dampen our spirits. It was an incredibly gorgeous hike even as the raindrops came down.
There were parts that were definitely dangerous since the rain made it easy to slip and slide off of rocks. We hiked for a total of 8 hours. We were able to reach the end of the Orderville Canyon tributary and return to hike further towards Big Springs. However, the water level was visibly rising and we did not want to be caught in a flash flood, so we turned around. During normal weather conditions with lower water levels, this hike would be considered an easy to medium hike. For more information, this site is a great resource!
Despite it all, we survived! (amongst others who chose to leave their mark behind) If you’re planning to take on this hike, I recommend the following:
- Wide-brimmed hat with drawcord
- Nylon hiking shorts (or shorts that will quickly dry)
- Bathing suit
- Top made of light, quick-dry material (avoid cotton)
- Water shoes
- Neoprene socks
- Light jacket
What to bring:
- Camelbak (50 – 100 oz.)
- Lunch (we grabbed deli sandwiches from Sol Foods before entering the park)
- Electrolyte packet
- Energy bars
- Ziploc bags (to keep valuables and other items from getting wet)
Other useful tips:
- Hiking permit: if you plan on going through the entire Virgin River hike or wish to explore the backcountry trails, make sure to reserve a permit in advance. All permits must be retrieved at the Visitor Center, where you can also double-check with the rangers on weather and trail conditions.
- Start early with a hearty breakfast! This helped us have enough energy to go through a good portion of the hike before lunchtime and helped us beat the crowd.
- Grab a hiking stick from the beginning of the hike at the river bank. Luckily, many hikers leave large branches behind for other hikers that can be used as hiking poles.
Pictures do not do justice in showing how majestic The Narrows and the rest of Zion National Park are. Its beauty is better appreciated when you are able to stand and absorb the magnitude of the scenery. From the towering heights of its colored cliffs to the cool, teal current of its river, Zion National Park did not fail to take my breath away even for the second time.
If you are not much of a hiker, the scenic drive is also a worthwhile route filled with beautiful, layered rocks and cliffs.
There are many vista points and stops to allow visitors to play or just relax on the rocks. We saved this part for the next day to wind down from the hike. It was a great way to end our epic trip at Zion National Park before embarking onto our next destination: Bryce Canyon.
Zion National Park
Springdale, UT 84767
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