We visited Zion from our base in Dixie National Forest, about an hour and a half away, which meant we got up at the crack of dawn in order to catch the first park shuttle bus of the morning from the Visitor Center to our trailhead. Since Bugsy was waiting patiently in the (cool, comfortable, ventilated) car while we hiked, we had to hustle, and we could only pick one trail from the menu: Angels Landing, based on rave reviews from several friends. It’s only 5.4 miles long, but you’re climbing steep switchbacks up a cliff face, and then–unlike any other hike I’ve done–using chains to pull yourself along a skinny ridge with sheer dropoffs on both sides, out to a point with views of the river far below and the mountains towering around you. It’s slow going, but you know us–we ran when we could and got out in front of most of the other climbers. After admiring the view and taking a million pictures–the conditions for photography weren’t ideal as the sun was in a tough location–we started our way back down the tricky ridge, and had to wait our turn in many places while others were climbing up the narrow rock spine. That was pretty annoying, and combined with the required shuttle busing and the throngs of people everywhere, put a negative spin on Zion for us, perhaps unfairly. We’ll go back someday, sans doggy (don’t tell her) to do The Narrows, a hike in the Virgin River through a narrow gorge, and The Subway, with its slot canyon, emerald pools, and waterfalls.
The drive into the park from the west is spectacular, and poor J had to make many photo stops on the way back out. We had lunch at Thunderbird Restaurant in Mt Carmel Junction on the way home for the sole reason that they advertise “Ho-Made Pies” with a giant pin-up lady sign. Lunch was so-so, the pie was delish, and the sign was fun. We popped up to Panguitch for a grocery run before heading home to Dixie and preparing to host our favorite houseguests for the night!