Monday, 31 October 2016

Road Trip Part 5; Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah
We were never originally supposed to go to Utah. Our trip bypassed it as there just wasn't enough time and we didn't know enough about it. However, flights ended up being about £300 cheaper for some reason if we added two days to the trip, and though the original plan was to just add some more days in San Francisco I decided to have a look around and see what else we could add to the trip. And through that, I found Zion.

I had heard of Zion before, but I wouldn't have been able to tell you anything about it. However, once I started googling for pictures I was immediately amazed by the colours and decided that yes, Zion - and Utah - was going to be the place to get added. And I'm very glad we did!

 Unfortunately, on the first day the weather was absolutely miserable. The rain was pretty consistent and you couldn't see the majority of the landscape due to the thick layer of fog. Despite that, we still thought it was absolutely beautiful.
 In Zion, you park your car up and take a coach around. The buses were never too full for us to get on and the drivers were abnormally chirpy.
Muddy river in Zion National Park, Utah

 On the first day, we decided to do the Emerald Pools hike. This is supposed to be an easier hike that takes you to see some small waterfalls and some beautiful green pools.
Waterfall in Zion National Park, Utah
 As you can see, the waterfalls were there...
River in Zion National Park, Utah
 But the pools were very much the opposite of the beautiful greens I'd seen in all of the photos! Despite this, we really enjoyed this walk. The scenery was lovely, it wasn't too difficult, and the people we met along the way were friendly.
Waterfall in Zion National Park, Utah
 Our opinion changed a bit on the way back. The rain began absolutely pouring it down and we stopped having a good time quite quickly! Chris's shoes and coat ceased to be waterproof and so he began moaning, whilst I just lost the ability to walk properly and kept slipping into giant piles of mud. It was horrible! Worse still, we'd decided to take a different route back which was supposed to be quicker. Unfortunately the mud made it extremely difficult to walk along and because we'd not come that way before we had absolutely no idea how long it was going to take to complete.

 Possibly as a result of all this, Chris got quite ill and didn't get to enjoy the nicest hotel we stayed at. We stayed at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch in a cowboy cabin, which was a lovely big cabin with your own car parking space and a double bunk bed. It had beautiful facilities, lovely home cooked style food and lots to see and do, but because Chris was so ill he didn't get to enjoy any of it and I spent most of the time looking after him.

Angel's Landing hike in Zion National Park, Utah
 The next day the weather appeared better, and we returned to Zion with the intention of doing the Angel's Landing hike. We spoke to the park rangers who informed us that it was expected to thunder later on in the day and that right now they weren't going to stop us from doing it, but that the hike is very exposed and there would be no protection from the lightning should it start. We dallied about and were going to go and do something different instead, but somehow ended up at the start to the hike anyway.
Angel's Landing hike in Zion National Park, Utah
 This hike was long and uphill (up mountain!) but for the most part not actually all that difficult. However it has a long series of switchbacks which are infuriating and painful! The views are good and keep you going, whilst the other people you'll meet who are on their way down are encouraging and let you know how far you've got to go.
Angel's Landing hike in Zion National Park, Utah

Angel's Landing hike in Zion National Park, Utah

Scout's Landing hike in Zion National Park, Utah

 In the end, we didn't actually make it up Angel's Landing itself. We made it to Scout's Lookout, and decided that that was quite far enough. Angel's Landing itself is a very steep climb where you're essentially just scrambling up the side of a mountain and clinging on to a chain rope to stop yourself from falling off and dying! We tried it for a little while and the going up wasn't a problem, but the going back down was as people were falling all over the place. We weighed up the fact that we estimated this last bit would take us at least an hour, and as we knew the thunder was on it's way we decided it just wasn't worth the risk. It was a shame, as I know the views from up there are absolutely amazing, but we were okay with the views that we got anyway.
Scout's Landing hike in Zion National Park, Utah

Scout's Landing hike in Zion National Park, Utah
 And so ended our second day in Zion, the park that became my favourite of the national parks and the one that I'd very happily recommend to anyone!
Afterwards we had a little look around some areas of Utah itself and adored it. The houses were very cute and tended to be colourful, and the people we met were all very friendly. Even though Utah is the state that we sort of added at random, it's a place that I would very much like to return to and spend more time in.

Dam in Utah
 On the way to our next destination we also came across this dam which had some lovely views!
And with that it was time to leave Utah - and move on to Nevada for a little trip to Vegas!


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