Zion National Park

Last week I spent a few days hiking and camping in Zion National Park.  I visited some places I have never seen there before.  I look forward to returning again.

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I arrived in Zion National Park late in the day. It had been raining there and typically dry falls were flowing. I stopped back here the following day and there was not a trace of water coming over the rock.

After the Rain
After the Rain
Layered Cake
This is part of a wash I explored during the day.

At the end of the day, I went to Canyon Overlook, looking for a good photo . Didn’t get it, but someone else got me.

Canyon Overlook
Canyon Overlook #2

I visited this location for 3 days hoping for a great photo opportunity. The first time I sat in my car hoping the rain would stop and avoiding the cold. I was about to leave when the rain stopped and color filled the sky. I ran the mile up the trail but by the time I got there the light was gone. Everything was gray. On the second day, I got there over an hour early and watched as the sky filled with clouds and the sun vanished well before sunset. At least I met some nice people. On the third day, I got this shot.

Canyon Overlook
Canyon Overlook #3

I stretched out on my belly and poked my head over the edge of sheer drop. It must be over 2000 feet to the canyon floor below.

Edge of the Canyon
Edge of the Canyon

I watched along with several others as the herd moved across the rock and then dashed across the road.

Desert Bighorn Sheep
Desert Bighorn Sheep

I loved this lone tree sitting on the precipice at Canyon Overlook.

Back Again

This is an easy hike from the road and a very popular place throughout the day. Especially nice as the sun sets over the canyon. I hung out for at least an hour as the light changed and people came and went.

Watching Sunset
Waiting for Sunset

After sunset at Canyon Overlook I headed back to the bridge overlooking the Virgin River and the Watchman.

Back to the Bridge
Virgin River

I woke up at 4 am and could not resist. There was the Milky Way and the mountain called the Watchman right outside my tent.

The Watchman's Way
The Watchman Under the Milky Way

I love the way this tree grows out of the dark crevice of rock. I hiked with neoprene socks and boots to keep my feet warm along with waterproof pants as I hiked in the Narrows.

Tree with a View
Tree in a Crack

There were lots of people hiking in the Narrows. I had to be very patient to get a shot like this without others passing by.  The wait was fun. I would have loved to be here a week or two later when the these trees will be turning color.  Some day I will.

Two Trees on the Bend

This fellow was posing for his wife. They had a good idea for this photo.

Man in the River
Man in the River

The Narrows are an amazing place to hike. I felt at times like I was hiking in the bowels of the earth. It was so wet and dark. Gollum would have loved it!

Out of Darkness
Out of Darkness
Too Early for Autumn
Too Early for Autumn

Every evening photographers gathered on this bridge looking for that trophy shot. I was one of them. But then I had to step back and appreciate the experience of the gathering.

The Gathering
The Gathering




Coyote Gulch Backpack

The best part of our Utah trip was spending a leisurely four days backing 12-14 miles in Coyote Gulch.  Coyote Gulch is a desert paradise! We found beautiful campsites along the river every day.

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Day 1
For our first day, we started at the Crack-in-the-Wall trailhead. Our route took us across the open desert about 2 miles to the rim of the canyon. The initial drop into the canyon is through an narrow crack in the rock, too narrow for backpacks.  We lowered our packs about 30 feet with a rope. As we descended toward Coyote Gulch, we had magnificent views of the Escalante River towards Steven’s Arch. Once down in Coyote Gulch, we found a beautiful campsite on a sandy bank beside the river. The total hiking distance for the day was 3-4 miles.

Hiking below Crack-in-the-Wall

Day 2
Our 2nd day took us about 5 miles up river to a camp just before Coyote Natural Bridge.  The high temperatures for the day were in the 80s. We hiked in the river most of the day.  We dunked under waterfalls and did “water yoga” – yoga in the shallow river.  At the end of the day we found a campsite just before Coyote Natural Bridge and a built a small rock dam in the river to create a pool in which to soak.

Coyote Natural Bridge

Day 3
Our third day in Coyote Gulch was one to relax and enjoy being here.  We hiked about a mile up river to a beautiful campsite we found the previous day.  We set our things down and explored up canyon toward the possible climbing route to exit Coyote Gulch.  On the way, we ran into a Mormon quartet singing in a magnificent stone cathedral.  Their beautiful voices echoed off the stone walls filling us with awe and reverence. Later in the day, we relaxed back in camp, played games, and bathed in the river.  What a delightful day! We are so blessed!

Camping in an amazing alcove!

Day 4
On our last day in Coyote Gulch our group split up.  I choose to take the challenging climbing route out of Coyote Gulch  with one other friend to the Water Tank trailhead. The others took the hiking route via Hurricane Wash.  The climbing route was a thrill and challenge.  The view of Jacob Hamblin Arch from the top of the canyon was other-worldly.

Jacob Hamblin Arch
Jacob Hamblin Arch