My immediate reaction was "oh Zion, how could I have lived over 50 years, traveled the world extensively, and never set foot in you before??? You are absolutely, stunningly beautiful. I am in love!"
|This photo of the buffalo at Zion Mountain Ranch is from Google images|
In fact, our campsite was far nicer than any of those in the actual park itself.
Once we were in the side canyon, we only saw a handful of people and the scenery was just as spectacular.
Despite the fact the main trail had hundreds of other hikers, it was still stunning. We spent most of the day exploring the Narrows.
When, not if, we return, I would like to backpack the entire canyon and camp out along the way. This time we did an out and back hike, but it's possible to get a backcountry permit and camp along the canyon.
The following day, we climbed Angels Landing, another one of Zion's most famous hikes. Angels landing is a 5 mile (roundtrip) hike up a well maintained trail full of steep switchbacks.
The last 1/2 mile of the hike is on a very exposed, rock fin that drops off thousands of feet in both directions. Once on the fin, hikers pull themselves up the rocks with heavy chains that are bolted in. Mikaela is not a fan of heights, so she opted to wait for us at the base of the fin, but kudos to her for making it that far.
The summit was spectacular, with red mountains and green valleys as far as the eye could see.
That night, Kristi and I splurged and went out for dinner at Zion Mountain Ranch's restaurant located in an old, log cabin. (The kids thought it was cool that we left them to cook their own meal at the campsite.) It turns out, the ranch has a huge organic garden which provides the produce the restaurant uses. We both ordered a delicious roasted vegetable salad and we sat there, looking at the herd of buffalo, sipping a glass of wine and chatting about how incredibly lucky we were to have had such a fantastic time in such a beautiful place.
p.s. I found this website to be full of great info about Zion: http://www.citrusmilo.com/zionguide/