Zion is a little over an hour away from Bryce, and was on our way back to Vegas. We decided to fit in a day hike at Zion before checking in in Vegas. In order to beat the noontime/afternoon heat in Zion, we left Bryce at 6:15 AM hoping to get to Zion at 8AM. We ended up getting to the park before the rangers started working at the entrance booth, which meant free park entrance.
We entered through the northeast side of the park and drove to the southwest end to get to the visitor center where the shuttle bus starts.
To ease traffic congestion throughout the park, visitors are advised to park at the visitor center and take the shuttle to the various trailheads. Because it was Memorial Day weekend, the ranger expected the parking lots to be completely filled up by 10 AM. Luckily, we got there early. Not only did we get into the park for free, we nabbed a parking spot. The shuttles run every 3-4 minutes so it is a great way to travel around in the park.
We decided on hiking the 2.5 mile (one way) West Rim trail leading up to Angels Landing. This is one of the most popular trails so it was important for us to start early to avoid the crowds. The shuttle dropped us off at the Grotto stop, and we started our hike around 8:30 AM.
The first 2 miles were rather easy. The path was mostly sandy terrain, and later paved. The exciting part of the hike was the last 0.5 miles up to the summit. For those afraid of heights, they were advised to stop at Scout Lookout.
J is slightly afraid of heights, but B is more so. B had wanted to try it, but decided against it. So she waited for us down at Scout Lookout as the 3 of us started our journey up.
Certain sections were pretty narrow where I needed to cling onto the chains; and then there were other sections where the steps up & down were too high for my short legs, and I needed to either pull myself up or brace my fall using the chains. However, after awhile nothing phased me, since I was too busy trying to catch my breath.
We spent some time marveling at the view and taking pictures, but soon had to head back down to meet up with B. The trip up wasn’t too bad, but the trip back down was marred by crowds trying to go up. It took us 1.5 hours just to hike up and down the last 0.5-mile section. I can only imagine it would take much longer with the larger crowd, since the trail only allows single files, and you’d have to step aside to let people pass. With big crowds, it’s guaranteed there will be a lot of waiting around for groups of people to pass. Total time it took to hike the trail was about 4.5 to 5 hours – with stops along the way taking pictures, and an early lunch break at Scout Lookout.
The guys declared that this was the best hike ever in their lives. J even said he’d do it again, and this is the same person who never does anything twice.
To be continued…