Saturday, October 22, 2011

Zion October Afternoon

Southern Utah has got to be one of the most extraordinary places in which to live. Easy access to Zion National Park is without a doubt a major reason. There are hundreds of miles of trails in the park; hiking any of them is worth the 45–mile drive from St. George. 

Bridge across Virgin River near the Grotto

One of my favorite areas in Zion (ok – they are all my favorite areas, I admit it) is the West Rim trail. You can start from the top or you can start from the bottom, but if you hike the entire length you’ll be pounding your knees on nearly 14 stunningly scenic miles of unforgiving Navajo Sandstone slickrock.  You’ll want some serious anti–inflammatories on board, plus you’ll need to spot a car at one end. 

None of these options fits my plan for the afternoon, however. My choice is a six–ish or seven–ish mile, out–and–back hike to a lovely bridge across a small canyon hidden in the heights of blindingly white sandstone. The trail ascends gradually from the Grotto across loose talus slopes of silty–sandy Kayenta Formation. It continues relentlessly up, up, up until reaching the massive streaked cliffs of Navajo Sandstone. 

West Rim trail

West Rim trail ascends talus slope of Kayenta Formation

IMG_9416OpalizedSilicaFilling FracturesInNavajo Sandstone
Opalized silica fills fractures

IMG_9419OpalizedSilicaFilling FractureInNavajo Sandstone
Opalized silica fills fractures in Navajo Sandstone

Once past the gaggles of holiday hikers chattering their way through Refrigerator Canyon, up Walter’s Wiggles to Angel’s Landing and on to Scout’s Lookout, I finally have the trail to myself.  

IMG_9433WestRimTrailThrough Refrigerator CanyonZionNP
Refrigerator Canyon

IMG_9514Walters WigglesZionNP
Walter's Wiggles are cut into Navajo Sandstone

In the next post we’ll continue to the bridge, high above Zion in the Navajo Sandstone.  

I hope you’ll re–fuel and join me! 

IMG_9456Lunch View
Just beyond Scout's Lookout - sandwich with a view


  1. Zion is such a gorgeous place to visit and hike. I hate when visitors at he NR ask which park they should visit, Zion or Bryce. They are both beautifully different.

  2. I totally agree! But I would ask them how much time they have (half day? a week?) and tell them that whatever choices they make, to enjoy themselves. Enjoy what you choose, don't regret what you did not.

  3. This makes me want to throw some clothes and my day pack in Sue Bea, a sleeping bag and sleeping pad and join you!

  4. Great bicycling weather, too! The cottonwoods along the Virgin River are just beginning to turn.