Zion National Park

As we drove down the dusty red track of our first campsite since hitting Utah, the clouds started to roll in and a crack of lightning struck in the distance. Although a little annoying that we had to box ourselves in after the drive instead of stretching our legs, the rain was a cooling change that was more than welcomed.

The next morning we again rose before sunrise to beat the heat and crowds, and made the dark but short drive to Zion National Park. Zion operates a little differently to some of the other parks we’d been to where by vehicles are prohibited from entering unless, it seemed, used to reach any of the on-site paid campsites. We parked Fuego and followed the closest moving group who, like us, were headed to the 6am shuttle bus, the very first of the day.

When we arrived the first shuttle was already full with keen hikers so we waited only a short while and jumped on the next. Unsurprisingly, 90% of the passengers jumped off at the trailhead of Angel’s Landing – named one of the top ten most dangerous hikes in the world and a major drawcard for Zion. We however had a different plan in mind; to climb the less crowded yet higher reaching Observation Point for an arguably better view without as much risk.

The hike jumped straight into a steep incline and continued up with very little flats. We kept climbing as we looked back into the canyon, watching it change colours as the sun rose higher into the sky. We passed the most amazing looking rock formations, towering high and burning a beautiful red from the levels of iron found in their composition. We trekked further and further up, wrapping around pathways with sheer drops below.

When we finally reached the top we were met with the most incredible view out across the canyon. The Virgin River weaved between towering canyon walls like a snake. The different shades of red, orange and pink rock, decorated with lush green shrubbery. And the small colourful dots of hikers huddling around the top of Angel’s Landing, celebrating the fact that they didn’t tumble to their immediate death. It was all just breathtaking.

After a few swigs of water and handfuls of trail mix we began our decent, egging climbers on as they passed us with defeated looks on their faces. When we finally reached the bottom the day had started to heat up, so we thought we’d squeeze in a quick, leisurely hike to the Emerald Pools. The pools however were anything but impressive; more like large brown puddles. The track was also crowded with slow-moving families, so we turned around before reaching the last of the three and shuttled it back to our faithful Fuego.

– Dek

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