Earlier this summer, I spent some time in Zion National Park, and part of it, Zion Canyon, became my favorite place in the world.
I’d seen pictures and heard about it and I went in with high expectations. Upon arrival, I drove through the park from east to west. The main part of the park – which has Zion Canyon – is in the southwest corner. The drive was magic. Just freaking incredible. It was one spectacular view after another, without the slightest break other than while driving through the two tunnels in the park.
I spent the next week exploring Zion Canyon – hiking, bicycling, taking pictures, and walking in the river. It’s like an eden. The open part of the canyon is about 10 miles long and up to maybe a mile wide. At the north end it closes in with the river running between two steep sandstone walls. The canyon is rich with trees and various types of plants, and they are spaced out perfectly to allow walking everywhere you want.
I took many pictures here. I hope they do justice in giving you an idea how beautiful this place is.
SEEN FROM UP HIGH
When I imagine an ideal landscape, what I see is essentially the Zion canyon. It’s one of the small number of places I’ve been dreaming about seeing. So – rather than hurry through a corner of Utah, I came over here.
Today I hiked up to angel’s landing. I find it a bit funny how the Mormon folks gave Zion all these super religious names. But once I’ve seen it, I really can’t fault them.
I’ve heard how busy Zion gets in the summer. I expected hordes of people marching terribly slowly up the hike. But it wasn’t so bad.
Once at the top of Angel’s Landing, I walked further, down to the very edge of the cliff overlooking the canyon. I found this ledge. No one else came down for the 4 hours I spent on it. I watched as the sun moved through the sky and it’s light changed the color and appearance of the sandstone walls. I watched clouds floating through the area that darkened or illuminated parts of the canyon floor. I read a book. I took a nap. I took these pictures. And I felt wonderful.
I’ve been traveling the U.S. for a year now. This view amazed me more than any other. It was the first place where I cried from joy.
IN THE CANYON
Zion is the kind of place where if you come and spend a day walking around the canyon and taking in the views, the sounds, and feel the river flowing by your legs – you will leave this canyon feeling like you’re winning at life. It helps you realize the insignificance of whatever problems you’re having in your life.
Zion Canyon: ten miles of natural magnificence.
It’s my favorite place on Earth
Just a few hours here, and my life feels perfect.
“How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains! To behold this alone is worth the pains of any excursion” – John Muir.
I don’t know if he was talking about any specific mountains, but it definitely could’ve been these in Zion canyon.
The canyon is fairly narrow, with high walls, so the whole thing is only illuminated at once for a few hours each day. Outside of those hours, the sunlight is always changing. And when it shines straight on the sides of these sandstone mountains, they look glorious
This swarm of people in the picture below are in the Virgin river at the north end of the canyon. During the busier times of year, the river is like this every day – with about a thousand pairs of feet carefully walking along the slick and hard rocks under the water. You have to walk carefully on these rocks and the crowd kind of look like zombies because of it.
Don’t let this dissuade you from going to Zion. Most of the park has WAY fewer people. Only the few most popular spots are like this. But the whole canyon is just about as nice as the most popular spots.
And even in this river, with all these people, it’s still entirely worth going. There have been some other scenic places – Horseshoe Bend is one example – where there are tons of people, and where they can get distracting and annoying to the point where I don’t enjoy the view more than anywhere else. But I never felt that way about Zion. It’s so damn good that it doesn’t even matter that some parts are crowded
Driving (and riding my bike) through the park totally blew me away. I drove through at the perfect time of day. As I drove, the evening sun danced back and forth behind high cliff walls. Many other areas have beautiful spots that are spaced out. The entire road through Zion is incredible. The only sections of road that aren’t amazing are while you’re inside the two tunnels in the park.