**Our friend Kristie Salzmann recently hiked in Zion National Park. Read her account of that amazing trip then visit her blog for more great adventures.**
I have always been a strong advocate of spending time on our public lands and exploring new places, so when my friend Joshua told me about a trip he was taking to Zion National Park, I jumped at the opportunity to tag along. I have seen dozens of pictures of southern Utah from friends' trips there, but I don't think I was really ready for the beauty that would surround me for two days of hiking and camping in Zion.
As we arrived at the entrance to the park and began searching for the campsite two of our fellow adventurers had secured for us, I was already in awe of the canyon walls surrounding us. I have been to Yosemite and will never forget the first view of those massive walls from the valley floor; much like that, I will never forget the valley of Zion.
It is very interesting, and I think very cool, that the park limits traffic in certain areas and offers a shuttle service to these limited access areas. By simply hoping on the shuttle stop next to the campground, we were able to get to the trailhead for our first hike.
Colors shifted and changed as sunlight danced on shear rock faces as we started an afternoon hike up to Angels Landing. This 5-mile roundtrip hike was unlike any I have ever done before in a national park. The first two miles or so are on a paved path that switchbacks up the side of the canyon. Once you get through an area referred to as Walter's Wiggles, you arrive at Scout Lookout and begin the really interesting part of the hike. The final .7 miles to Angels Landing consists of a serious of chains along rock outcroppings. If you take your time to get through this section, the destination is well worth the trip!! The view from the landing was awe inspiring and left me wondering how a view could get any better.
After feasting on pizza at Zion Pizza and Noodle in Springdale, which is literally right outside the entrance to the national park, we settled in for the night with our sights set on the hike up to Observation Point the next day.
While Angels Landing left me wondering in amazement over the splendid view, Observation Point showed me that nature is always one upping itself. After a stunning 4 mile hike through the narrower walls of Echo Canyon and switch backing up the side of a mountain (in straight sunshine with no shade, so bring your sunscreen!), the view from the top was magnificent. This hike took us higher in elevation than the Angels Landing hike and treated our group to a view of the entire Zion valley and the Virgin River as it winds its way along the valley floor. At 8 miles roundtrip and with an elevation gain of nearly 2,000 ft, this hike was somewhat strenuous. Although it was mainly uphill the entire way to the destination, given enough time, it is a hike that anyone can accomplish.
As I stood atop the perch that is Observation Point, I took note of other trails in the distance and began plotting my return to Zion National Park to backpack from the East Rim to the West Rim. Stay tuned because I hope to accomplish this backpacking trip in 2014!
-Kristie Salzmann grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. After a successful military career, she switched paths to live her dream in Cody, Wyo., where she works for the Shoshone National Forest. She's a runner, hiker, biker, camper, backpacker and climber who blogs about her experiences at anappetiteforadventure.wordpress.com. Kristie is passionate about trying new things and loves to be in nature, especially the lands surrounding Yellowstone National Park! Follow her on Twitter: @wigirl4ever
Zion National Park: A Hiking Adventure
By Kristie Salzmann
December 17, 2013
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