We were all quite lucky that we just happened to be lucky enough to plan and time our trip almost perfectly. I read that Zion National Park gets very busy, and in order to beat the crowds, and make it back to the resort in enough time to enjoy the hot tub, eat dinner, and get some decent sleep before leaving on Monday, I suggested we get to the park at 7am. That meant waking up a bit before 6am for the 45 minute drive there. Well, we didn't quite make it that early, but did manage to get our butts out of bed, get ready, and drive to Zion and get inside and park around 7:40am. There were about 5 cars ahead of us in line to get in the park, so barely any wait at all. And the town that leads into the Park entrance was having construction on their two-lane road, which made the road a 1 lane road. Yes, 1 lane for both directions, meaning you had to stop and wait for the workers to let you pass in the one lane while the traffic from the other way made their way through.
Anyways, enough about our drive in....Now for the fun part. Zion has a free shuttle system that will drop you off at the major points and trail heads within the park. So we decided to start at the very end and work our way back. We boarded the shuttle, didn't even have to wait in line, and enjoyed a scenic drive through Zion. Our first hike was to the entrance of the Narrows. The Narrows was closed due to potential flooding, but we did get to hike a paved trail to the entrance to this and enjoy some amazing views. Now, since it was not even 9am, and we were deep in a canyon between very tall rocks, it was SUPER cold. You might be able to tell in the photos we were pretty bundled up. Both Chelsea and I brought gloves, but left them in the most convenient place - back at our resort room. Luckily the day got warmer as it got later, but this first hike was pretty brutal due to the cold.
**Sidebar - As an early anniversary gift for Jaime I got him some very nice hiking boots for this trip. And since I was at the store anyways, I bought some for myself as well. If you pay close attention to our feet, you will see we are both wearing some pretty legit boots. Well, we really put them to the test on this trip. I was hesitant to buy such expensive footwear, but both of our boots kept our feet warm, gave great support, provided amazing grip on the paths and rocks, AND are waterproof, which will be perfect for when we go to Iceland in November. So yes, I spent a good amount on them, but they were very much worth it.
We then did another hike that combined two trails and took us to some waterfalls and pools. We stopped for snacks and more photo ops. Now, if you have ever been on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland, they show you the "8th Wonder of the World" - the backside of water - by going behind the waterfall. Well, in your face Jungle Cruise, because we saw the backside of water from a couple of different waterfalls in Zion. I guess the 8th Wonder of the World is not specific to Disneyland. ;)
The final trail we wanted to do was considered "Moderate" and Chelsea had hurt her foot yesterday hiking on the rocky terrain at Snow Canyon State Park, so she sat the third hike out and explored around the visitor center. Jaime, Brandon and I did the hike, which said it was supposed to take about 2 hours. But we sped through it. Not only to get back to Chelsea, but because at this point we had hiked around 6 miles already, and this was scaling rocks, going up inclines, rocky paths, etc. Only our first hike was paved. But also because the hot tub back at our resort sounded really good. And because leaving the park on the 1 lane road out of town was bound to give us some traffic, so we wanted to leave Zion at a decent hour....So this 2 hour hike took the three of us 1 hour and 20 minutes round trip. this included resting at the top, as well as stopping for photos. And this was also a pretty good incline as well. So you can imagine the speed at which we went. When we got back down the bottom, we were relieved, sore, and a bit in disbelief at how fast we pulled it off. Not to mention that the view from the top was so amazing. We got a great Panoramic view, and the scenery was so varied that if you took photos from the 4 different angles, it would look like you were in 4 different places.
There was one more look out point the four of did before getting a few souvenirs, loading in the Jeep, and heading into town for dinner.
So all around, we estimated we hiked just under 10 miles. And remember when I said we timed everything pretty well? When we left, it was about 4pm. The parking lot we parked in was full when we left. There were signs all over saying people had to just park in town because parking was completely full in the park. The shuttle that took people to the drop off points had a line so long I would definitely classify it as Disneyland Ride long at the peak of Summer. As we exited Zion, the line of cars waiting to just enter the park was backed about for about a mile. We were very smart, and lucky to have gotten there when we did. It was worth powering through the cold to experience light traffic on the trails and easy access to the shuttles. We didn't wait in a single line all day.
We ate at a local restaurant called MeMe's Cafe and sitting and eating never felt so good. We made it to our resort safely and immediately grabbed some beers and headed back to the hot tub. That also had never felt so good.
We opted out of dinner since we had a ton of snacks, and stopped at a Dairy Queen for Blizzards just before we got back to our resort. We got to bed at a pretty good hour to wake up early and hit the road to come back home.
**We made it home safely and hit no traffic on the way. We also gained our hour back, so felt like we made even better time. All around, this was an incredibly successful short and sweet trip to a very beautiful part of our country. While our trails were rocky, we spent a lot of time watching our feet to make sure we wouldn't trip, and Brandon kept remining everybody to "look up" once in a while to just take in where we were. And we made a point to do that, and are just very thankful and in awe of the beauty and wonder of this world.