Among Utah’s Mighty Five, Zion National Park is perhaps most tourists’ favorite and a mecca for canyoneering, hiking, and rock climbing enthusiasts. This park boasts high plateaus, deep and narrow sandstone canyons, the Virgin River, springs, astonishing waterfalls, and above all, glorious Navajo sandstone cliffs that glow golden when hit by sunlight. The combination of all these makes Zion my favorite national park.
COURT OF PATRIARCHS
Hubby and I started our day early and drove to our first stop: Court of Patriarchs. The hike from our car is short, I even doubt we can call that a hike. It was still early in the morning, even one deer showed up for its breakfast graze, and the sun’s rays just hit the sandstone formation. We had timed it right. The Patriarchs are referring to the three neighboring sandstone peaks on the west side of Zion Canyon and each is named after biblical fathers. From left to right (south to north) they are Abraham Peak, Isaac Peak, and Jacob Peak. The Patriarchs were named by Frederick Vining Fisher, a Methodist minister who ventured into Zion in 1916.
One of the most popular hiking and canyoneering trails at Zion National Park is the Narrows. But due to possible danger and unpredictable flash floods, and the winter cold (early December 2015), we opted to settle with the Riverside Walk which is known as The Gateway to the Narrows. We did see few tourists who braved the winter water though, looking all geared up like they were about to go deep sea diving! We definitely stayed out of the water but had we have to, I would certainly gear up an 8mm dry suit too! Haha. The Riverside Walk was only two miles and the view is gorgeous. The ice sheets formed on the wall cliffs along the trail also made it extra interesting.
THE WEEPING ROCK
The first time I heard about the Weeping Rock, I instantly thought of some old wives tale revolving around a man or a woman weeping for the return of a lover. Heck, I am a Filipina and I have the tendency to become over dramatic, haha. Old wives tales aside, the Weeping Rock is famous for the streams of water (NOT TEARS) due to a constant water flow from the Echo Canyon above. These seepage areas result from two rock strata, Kayenta and Navajo sandstone, that layers the cliffs. The Kayenta layer which makes up the floor of the canyon, prevents water from absorbing into the ground and forces it to find a place it can penetrate, such as the Weeping Rock. Consequently, the moist or water in the cliffs offers a good habitat for ferns and mosses and turns the canyon into a paradise which my husband loved very much. And while he contemplated on the ferns and mosses, there I was thinking of a water curtain
of a woman’s/man’s window awaiting the return of a lover teasing an overlook of the canyon.
VIRGIN RIVER/ CANYON JUNCTION
Our last stop for the day was at the (Zion) Canyon Junction Bridge to catch a sunset. It was tricky since most tourists simply stop dangerously on the road, even in the middle of the bridge, to take photos. The best practice is to drive somewhere safe to park your car and walk towards the bridge for a view of the canyon. Please, exercise caution and be respectful and be mindful of the safety of other tourists when you visit.
What makes Zion National Park stands out among the other parks is its easy access to the bottom of the canyon allowing tourists to look up to the canyon walls instead of looking down. Unlike Grand Canyon’s mule ride to the bottom of the canyon that comes with a hefty price tag, Zion National Park does not cost a fortune.
We arrived slightly early for a sunset so we decided to explore a little more by accessing the Pa’rus Trail. Most of our hikes at Zion National Park are easy and the Pa’rus trail is probably the easiest and comfortably quiet. The trail runs alongside the Virgin River which was a treat. It was a brilliant idea while we waited for a nature light show to display.
Once we saw the angle of the sunlight about to hit the canyon cliffs, we hurried back to the bridge for photos and we were not disappointed. With the passing of every minute as seen in the photos below, the canyon’s landscape unfolded from reddish orange to a glorious amber gold.
The waterfall below would be beautiful in spring or summer. :)
My husband has heard me multiple times claiming Zion National Park as my favorite. It is truly a beautiful jewel in the town of Springdale, Utah. But the memory that stands out the most when I think of Zion National Park is our sunset drive around the park and towards and around the town of Springdale, just a few miles outside the park. It is one of the most beautiful, the most colorful, and the most memorable sunsets I have seen in my entire life. And I still remember how peaceful and how contented I felt that day. It is one of those tiny moments when I smile and I know my heart is smiling too. I think that is why I always look back at the memories we made in Zion. It is how it made me feel.
I held my husband’s hand, squeezed it a little tighter and smiled before I took photos of the pinkish-orange and golden amber sky. A quick stop at the gas pump and we were happy to call it a day.
This day is definitely one for the books. I suppose because our cat, Sakura Rain gave us her blessings this morning before we headed out and about. :)
So much love! xoxo