Just back from Zion NP in Utah, a truly amazing place. Thanks Mor and Tonya for inviting me along, and to Mor for taking the pics.
We did 3 fantastic hikes – all of which I think would make my lifetime top 20 (if I kept one)
- Firstly, Subway, which we did top-down, the more exciting direction. This is way off the tourist roster and was positively Indiana-Jones-esque. Imagine a 10 mile long slot canyon, hundreds of sheer rock face above you on both sides, carved into wonderfully surreal shapes by the occasional flash food. You need 60 feet of rope, although Mor managed to bring 60 metres (he should get a job with Nasa ;-). You need the rope for 2 of 3 spots where you need to abseil down waterfalls and small cliffs, so make sure you have someone who knows ropes, how to belay etc. The water was pretty low for us, but I still got wet – there’s a couple of places where you have to swim (imagine carrying 60 metres of rope over your head whilst treading water!). In the end I just hiked in my swimming trunks.
- We also did “The Narrows” bottom-up – basically hiking up a river in the bottom of a canyon. Top-down is the classic backcountry 15 miler which gets you away from the hordes who do it bottom-up. We set off at 9am on a Sunday since we didn’t have a permit for top-down, and were basically alone for 90% of the hike. So the morale is – leave early.
- The third hike was Angels Landing in the valley, a prime spot to head to for amazing views. Its much more accessible than Subway, but thankfully is steeper and the final portion involves clambering up a ridge with a chain which puts off a lot of the daytrippers. The views are amazing and the path itself is an engineering marvel.
- Depending on water levels you may get soaked, and if the risk of flash floods is high they don’t let you go up the Narrows or anywhere near Subway.
- There’s a lottery to get a permit here for Subway and Narrows (top-down). You can turn up the day before but you have to get there early I’m told.
- For both hikes, its worth renting canyoneering boots and a stick from Springdale just outside the park. Incredibly, quite a few people do the trek in heavy boots.
- Park your car outside the park in Springdale and take the shuttle in.
- Oscars in Springdale is great for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. They do real beer too (Utah isn’t as anti-fun as rum ous might have it), including Polygamy Porter, the Mormon’s favourite! Oscar’s Cafe 948 Zion Park Blvd. Springdale, Utah 84767 (435)772-3232
- We stayed at the Zion Park Hotel – which proved a satisfactory motel. One weirdism – the showers are designed for ewoks so you have to squat down to wash your hair (Zion Park Motel, 865 Zion Park Blvd, Springdale, UT 84767, 435-772-3251).
- More Zion routes on canyoneeringusa.com.
- More pictures courtesy of Mor (warning – Rick in swimming trunks):