When I started planning this trip I was told about hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park. I had actually considered skipping Zion National Park and heading to the lake and the Grand Canyon basically bypassing this section of Utah. When I heard about Zion and the narrows it instantly went on our list. I was looking forward to this more than most other parts of utah, and Arizona. maybe more than the Grand Canyon because of the completely unique experience.
The story of zion is more a story of struggle than salvation. While the area is amazingly beautiful and appeared to be a refuge for early mormon settlers, the reality is that it was nearly impossible farm land. The constant powerful flash floods in the spring. Farm lands, settlements and entire towns were washed away almost annually. Over the centuries that people have tried to settle the area the land has constantly won. Even now flash floods continue to take out roads and damage infrastructure and claim lives of those who visit. A flash flood days before we got there injured several and killed one hiker. Not all of zion is subject to these dangers but a river through a canyon with hard rock walls is not a force to be underestimated.
The modernday Zion is one of the more beautiful places I have seen. I would build a house there if I could. Lol. It is the first places that Gail and I intend to return to some time after the trip. It is peaceful and serene. There are hikes that range form simple strolls to high difficulty and danger. The narrows is one of those universal hikes, the farther in you go, the more you do the more the risk.
Because of the rain storms that had passed through the are the flood warnings were high to moderate, and the temps were low, the first few days we were in Mt. Carmel, we waited until the end of the week to head to zion and take the narrows hike. Our first day in Zion it was nearly 90 degrees outside the river but in the comfortable 70’s in the canyon during the day, then once the sun was off the lower parts of the canyon the temps dropped to the low 60’s.
We made sure we over prepared for this hike with multiple layers, lots of water proofing, and changes of cloths, food and fresh water. I took the better half of the morning to gather things up and get everyone lined out. We also waited for temps to climb since we new there was no realistic way the boys could do the entire hike we figured it would be best to have the majority of our hike in the warmer part of the day.
From Mt. Carmel you take utah scenic highway 9 into the park. The rout runs from the east side of the park to the south side. (to get to the north where the narrows are you have to take a buss) The rout takes you through some beautiful utah desert and into a strikingly unique landscape of Zion, On this side it’s the checker board mountains. These mountains are made of sand stone that has been washed shaped and weathered over time. There are waves of smooth rock contrasting with small canyons, and trees and plants that scatter throughout.
The drive also takes you through man made tunnels through the rocks that at the time of construction were a feat of their own. If you vehicle is over 7 ft. wide and over 11 ft high you have to pay for an escort to drive through the tunnels so you can drive down the middle. There is no shoulder to speak of and no lighting. The tunnel it’s self is rather ugly but the drive is pretty cool. There are cutouts along the way that allow drivers to see the vastness of the canyons they are entering before they get there. Don’t stop to check them out though you cause a wreck or get ticketed.
Once through the tunnels you get your first view of Zion as you drive to the south entrance. for parking. If you are there on a weekend and it’s after 9am forget parking in Zion. Plan on driving into town and parking there. Remember the transit system I mentioned? There are two parts, the town part that takes you up and down town and to the pedestrian entrance of zion and the part that takes you through zion. – There is a little mentioned on the transit system in the research I did on the park. I was rather annoyed because it took us an hour more to get the narrows than I had planned. which meant if we were to make it any distance up the river it would be colder on our trip back… oh well, that’s why we over packed.)
So once we were in town we hit the grocery store, found a place to park on the side of the road, and hoofed it to the pedestrian entrance.