Take Your Own Grand Tour of Zion National Park, Utah
Packing all this awesomeness into a 2-day weekend will push your limits and keep you buzzing for months thereafter. Getting to all of these sites is no easy task, and should only be pursued by the in-shape hiker.
These pictures highlight the uniquely different aspects of Zion NP. Start your day off with a shuttle ride up the canyon to admire the beauty of the Three Patriarchs on your way to the Grotto shuttle stop, preparatory to the start of your 4.8 mile roundtrip hike up the incredible Angel's Landing.
The trail climbs up the east side of the canyon wall to the infamous 21 switchbacks of Walter's Wiggles, before making the sketchy ascent along chains and steep vertical cliffs to the summit.
The views at the top of this 1488' tall rock formation are incredible, looking both up the canyon and out of the canyon to Springdale UT.
Now that your heart rate is up and the sweat is in full effect, take the shuttle to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava. The "Narrows" hike was rated #5 in the National Geographic ranking of America's Best 100 Adventures. After the 1.0 mile paved walk to the water's edge, hikers begin the trek wading through water amongst the behemoth sandstone walls.
Segments of this hike through the Virgin River will be ankle deep, while others will have you nearly submerged. You can take it as far as 3.6 miles past the paved walk without a backcountry permit, but such a trek in water can take quite some time. Experience the Narrows for a good hour or so, cool off, take some pictures, and enjoy.
The shuttle stop at Weeping Rock is quite neat, and it provides you access to many other destinations (Observation Point, Mystery Canyon, East Rim Trail, Cable Mountain, Deertrap Mountain). Just after exiting the shuttle you can do a quick jaunt up to Weeping Rock, which displays water seeping through the porous sandstone rock, with miraculous views looking back at Angel's Landing and Zion Canyon.
Day 2 requires a little planning. If you're keen for some serious adventure, to escape the tourists in Zion Canyon, and are in-shape, then plan ahead and try to get a permit for "the Subway". The trail head for the Subway hike is north of Virgin, UT. You can approach this hike from the technical route (top down) from the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead, or take the bottom up route (not requiring ropes/rappels) beginning and ending at the Left Fork Trailhead. Each route is roughly a 9.0 mile hike in fairly strenuous conditions. The journey consists of route finding, creek crossing, bouldering, and rappelling (on the top down route) in order to reach this incredible site.
The water in the Left Fork River cascades beautifully down the rock formations just west of the Subway, indicating that you're quite close to your final destination. Upon reaching the Subway we had to celebrate with some headstands, prior to exploring the beautiful tunnel-like formation, along with the cold pools and waterfalls located past the tunnel.
This place was a dream. We caught it at the perfect time of day in such perfect lighting... with the Subway beautifully illuminated. If you go to Zion National Park, get out and see the Subway.
Two days at Zion National Park is jam-packed, but worth the effort for all of these beautiful destinations. You won't regret it.
Written by Josh Allen from RAWtrails. See more from RAWtrails on Instagram
RAWtrails is a dynamic organization focused on inspiring people to create a lifestyle of activity and adventure in the great outdoors, holding to the belief that nature and it’s miraculous wonder contain the power and ability to transform us into happier and healthier people.