Backpacking in Zion’s National Park is one of the most amazing things I have done so far in my life. One of the greatest things that I have learned about our national park system here in America is that the best places are the ones where nobody else goes. I feel like it is a common misconception to go to the “best” spots because that is what everyone wants to see, so it must be the most beautiful or epic area of the park.
The best spot that I saw in Zion’s was up a small animal trail West of the camp spot we found. This camping area was about 8 miles up trail to the North of Angel’s Landing (one of the most popular spots in the park).
We began our hike up the steep switchback trail to the cliffs toward Angel’s Landing. After about an hour and a half we reached the large line to the railing and path that led to the spot where everyone wanted to be. We decided to not even bother with waiting in line and went East up the trail past the huge crowd.
We rounded a corner and began heading North as the sound of hustle and bustle was dissipated and the trail switched from paving to dirt. We suddenly felt like we were actually on a backpacking trip. We continued along the trail and began to drop slightly into a desert valley. Even in late may, it was hot!
The trail turned west toward a cliff and we could make out the future process up the cliff. We began the upward trek where we gained another 1000+ feet as we reached the beautiful greenery on top of the red and yellow rock of the cliffs.
We kept going along the edge of the cliff and kept climbing upward on the trail. Eventually we saw trees ahead and entered into the shade of the late afternoon. Within the trees we found the trail junction we were looking for and set up camp in one of the designated camping spots. Not long after we ate some food, we heard some other people at the junction.
We said hello and chatted for a bit, finding out that they had been canyoneering all weekend.
After our short talk, we set out East to get to the top of the hill near our campground to catch a glimpse of the sunset. We kept heading up the hill and every we thought we were at the top, there was another hill to climb. After about 45 minutes, we were running out of daylight and headed south to get out of the trees and see down the hills we had come from. The trees opened up and we sat to enjoy the few.
Sitting on top of this hill, with the sun going down behind us, I looked out across the expanse of Zion’s National Park from above. At this point we were close to 2000 feet above Angel’s Landing and the drastic elevation drops of the red and golden rock topped by the lush green of springtime all below the rich, blue, dusk sky is honestly the most beautiful view I have ever seen in my life.
We sat and enjoyed as the sun went down and eventually left heaven to go back to our tent and pass out for the evening.
We woke the next morning and returned the way we came. As we passed Angel’s Landing, the crowd was larger than the day before, so again we passed. About 1 hour after passing Angel’s Landing we reached the car at the trailhead, and eventually began our drive back to Salt Lake City.