Zion National Park

This month, Steve and I took a week and headed out to Utah. The impetuous for the trip was a visit to Best Friends Animal Society at the end of the week, but we decided to take a few extra days and spend time in a couple of national parks. Our first couple of days were spent in Zion National Park, which was absolutely beautiful.

We started off the first day with a quick stop of the Court of the Patriarchs, taking a few photos at the overlook before crossing the street to get a little closer by heading into the river bed.

Court of the Patriarchs

Court of the Patriarchs

Steve at Court of the Patriarchs (Mount Moroni)

Our next stop was the Weeping Rock, where water seeps out of the sandstone. It was a short, but mildly steep trail up to the alcove that ended with a gorgeous view into the canyon.

Anne and Steve at the Weeping Rock

This was also the point at which I started to realize just how awesome it was to be there in November when the weather was a bit cooler and the leaves were changing color. Mind you, I think we got pretty lucky with the weather since every day was sunny. The only “problem” photography-wise was that the low angle of the sun throughout the day, combined with the tall rock walls surrounding us, kept a lot of the beauty in a bit of shadow.

Valley view at the Weeping Rock

Oh my god, I LOVE autumn! Everything about it, from the brisk air, to the way noises seem a bit muted, to the color of the trees. I’m sure these views are pretty in the greens of summer, but the way the yellows and red shine in the sun and stand out against the blue sky are just captivating.

view at the Weeping Rock

view at the Weeping Rock

After the Weeping Rock, we headed out for the main hike of the day, going to the Emerald Pools. They are supposed to the emerald because of a specific algae growing in the pools, but they weren’t particularly green when we were there. Maybe it’s more of a summer thing. That didn’t matter though, since the areas were so beautiful anyway.

The path to the lower emerald pool was an easy walk and the most accessible for people to get to. There was just a small trickle of water coming over the edge of the overhang and into the pool below when we were there, but I imagine it must be super cool in the spring when the water’s really flowing and you walk behind the waterfall.

at Lower Emerald Pool

at Lower Emerald Pool

Heading up to the middle pool, we were treated to another lovely view of the valley below.

at Middle Emerald Pool

Anne at Middle Emerald Pool

At the upper pool we spent some time relaxing in the shadow of the enormous rockface surrounding us.

at Upper Emerald Pool

at Upper Emerald Pool

Anne at Upper Emerald Pool

During the summer, the only way to get around the park is by using the park shuttle. The shuttle was only running on weekends since it was the end of the season, so this was the perfect hike to do on a Sunday. Rather than backtrack the trail we’d come up on, we took the Kayenta Trail at the junction to end up back at the Grotto, one shuttle stop up the road from the Emerald Pools trailhead.

view from Kayenta Trail

view from Kayenta Trail

view from Kayenta Trail

We went into town for a quick lunch, then headed back into the park to watch the sunset over the Watchman.

sunset over the Watchman

With the day coming quickly to a close, we took a stroll along the Pa’rus Trail to check another path off my list.

the Pa’rus Trail at dusk

Steve on the Pa’rus Trail

The next day was Monday, so we were on our own for transportation. We started off the morning with a hike along the Canyon Overlook Trail. The road to the trail took us up and out of the canyon, and past even more fantastic scenery.

Zion National Park

As with pretty much everything in the park, the trail was gorgeous and it was a perfect way to start the day. However, just a few minutes onto the trail, a group of middle schoolers on a field trip appeared at the trailhead, their voices bouncing off the canyon walls. They were seriously starting to damage my calm.

Steve and I had just crossed over a narrow part of the trail and, based upon the copious instructions we could hear being called out, we knew the chaperones would make the gaggle of kids cross one at a time and wait for the group to gather on the other side before continuing on, so we picked up our pace a little bit to put some distance between us and them.

Getting to the overlook, we were treated to an expansive view of the valley below.

Anne and Steve at Canyon Overlook

After a few minutes of peacefully looking out over the canyon, the kids and their stressed out chaperones descended on the overlook. Steve and I quickly decided to take our leave as the kids started climbing up rocks and back-talking to the adults about how they had done way more dangerous things in the past.

Leaving the overlook, we headed back down into the canyon, driving to the end of the scenic drive to take the Riverside Walk along the Virgin River toward the Narrows. What a fantastic walk this is! I got some of my favorite pictures of the trip here.

Riverside Walk

Riverside Walk

Riverside Walk

At the end of the path, we sat along the river and had a snack before I started getting a bit distracted by the rocks at my feet.

Anne at end of Riverside Walk

If we ever find our way back to Zion, I think the hike we’d like to do would take us up the river further, crossing to the other side and heading into the Narrows.

Riverside Walk

Riverside Walk

We ended our trip with a nice lunch at the Zion Lodge, before starting our drive over to Bryce Canyon. Exiting the park took us past some more neat rock formations along the way.

rock formation at Zion National Park

rock formation at Zion National Park

rock formation at Zion National Park

All in all it was a lovely trip to Zion National Park. We had absolutely gorgeous weather, with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 50s to 60s. I can’t imagine wanting to go there in the middle of the summer, and not just because of the crowds. Some of those hikes would be horribly hot in July or August, but they were perfect on our trip. A highly recommended visit all around.