Spring Break A16 Style: Exploring Zion National Park

Posted by adventure 16 | 03.27.2018
By: Sharon Saltoon
A16 West Los Angeles Sales Associate
Trip Date: 3/10 - 3/16

While Panama City Beach calls out to many, we instead chose good ole’ human powered adventure for Spring Break. Destination of choice: Zion National Park. Nina and I began our epic road trip like any pair of best friends would, by donning our tutu’s as we brewed up our morning coffee and loaded the car. Seven hours and several Taylor Swift CD’s later, we arrived at our campsite at Zion South Campground. Already, we were mesmerized by the incredible rock formation that loomed over our campsite, which we learned is called The Watchman. We settled into our campsite and enjoyed some hot chocolate from the hammock as we soaked in the stunning sunset views.

 relaxing in a hammock
Relaxing under The Watchman

We kicked off our Zion adventures the next day by exploring the lesser-known north side of the park, called Kolob Canyons. Following Taylor Creek Trail, we came across two historic homestead cabins that were built in the 1930’s. We continued down the canyon, enjoying the crisp air on our skin and the sound of the creek as it trickled along beside us. It led us to the Double Arch Alcove, a set of massive caves that were created as the weather-resistant rim held strong while the water carried away the layers of sedimentary rock below. This 5-mile round-trip hike was the perfect way to escape the crowds in the main area of the park. 

 girl drinking from a water bottle
A quick water break in Kolob Canyon

On day two, we opted for a little more thrill and decided to tackle the infamous Angels Landing. To prepare for the 1400+ feet of elevation gain, we cooked up my favorite hearty breakfast of oats with chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and brown sugar, before donning our packs and boarding the shuttle to The Grotto. We thought the first part of the hike felt steep, but then we arrived at Walter’s Wiggles- a set of 21 unforgiving switchbacks. And we were just getting to the fun part. After a short plateau, we encountered a sign that said “Angels Landing, 0.5 miles.” This last half mile features a chain to hold on to for extra security as you try not to slip off the 1000 foot drop-offs on the narrow ridge that leads up to the summit. The real challenge on these chains, however, is the crowds. Most of the way up, there is only room for a single-file line along the chains, so you might find yourself waiting on the larger landing spots until there is an opportunity to continue. But all said and done, the top of Angels Landing is completely worth the hike. If you brave the cliffs and the people, you’ll be rewarded with 360 degree panoramic views of Zion Canyon, and it will truly take your breath away. 

Angels Landing

Angel's Landing

On our last day in Zion, we wanted to maximize our time by doing shorter hikes, and see as much of the canyon as possible. We began with the Emerald Pools Trail. As we encountered Lower Emerald Pools, we were mesmerized by the expanse of the cave and the sound of multiple waterfalls trickling over the ledge. I can only imagine encountering this waterfall during the snowmelt, when the sound is bound to more thunderous. We continued ahead to Upper Emerald Pools. The rock towering above us was at this destination was truly magnificent. On our way down, we followed the surprisingly quiet Kayenta Trail back to the bottom of the canyon and had sweeping views of the Virgin River below and the incredible rocks around us. 

After a short lunch break, we hopped back on the shuttle to the farthest spot in the park: the Temple of Sinawava. This is the beginning of the Riverside Walk, which follows alone the Virgin River to the mouth of The Narrows. Although we did not trek into The Narrows, the feeling at the end of the Riverside Walk was unmatched. I’m a sucker for towering canyon walls, and this was no exception. 

Over 1000 vertical feet of Navajo Sandstone

Over 1000 vertical feet of Navajo Sandstone

It’s incredible to think that the features of Zion have been formed through various geologic processes over the past 250 million years. And Zion is part of the bigger picture of the Grand Staircase, the bottom of which is the Vishnu Schist of the Grand Canyon, dating over 2000 million years old. A beautiful thing about that is that even over this vast scope of time, the rock adapts to its circumstances, constantly building on itself or changing in some way while retaining the beauty of itself as a whole. As we come into spring, a season of change and transition, I'm reflecting on how we as humans do the same. We adapt to change. Sometimes it's slow growth, as if we are adding layers of sediment. Maybe something happens that cuts deep like a river canyon. But no matter what, the core of who we are remains the same.