Zion National Park is absolutely beautiful. The land radiates with history — 10 thousand years human and 10 million geological. You can just feel it as you pass through trails that Anasazi, Paiute and Mormon settlers traveled along. Some of the history is sad, Mukuntuweap (Straight Canyon), part of the larger Markagunt (Highland of Trees) Plateau, saw its share of hardship and unfairness. Much of Zion’s history is inspiring. All of it places the rugged terrain within a uniquely American context.
For now, anyway… These canyons were around eons before us and will be around eons after.
Five friends and I spent the day running through Zion National Park. The weather was fantastic and the views were amazing. One section of trail, from the Grotto to the East Rim was closed due to rockfall. Other than that, the trails are opened and in great shape. We were able to complete the 42 mile traverse from Lee Pass to the lodge located in the Zion Canyon Grotto. We had wanted to complete the east rim climb, but closed trails are closed for a reason. The National Park Service has enough to worry about without a bunch of runners doing something stupid.
The next morning two of us returned to the park for a hike to Angel’s landing. The views from the top of that hike are spectacular. Getting to that view was, by far, the scariest thing I did in the park.
We started running at right around sunrise. We were treated to a beautiful view of the moon hanging over a canyon wall in the morning sky.
During the traverse, we ventured about a half mile off the main trail in order to see the Kolob Arch. To see it better, we had to scramble up a small hill. We were rewarded with an amazing view of one of the longest natural arches in the world.
The scenery along the trail changed constantly. Pine trees would give way to high desert. Fine sand would give way to river crossings.
The trail was a bit hard to follow in Hop Valley. Fortunately you pretty much go in one side — and then exit out the other. With a bit of zig-zagging between the canyon walls, we managed to stay on course. The water in this area isn’t safe to drink due to cattle grazing.
Another spectacular view. Photos really don’t capture the vastness of this park.
More strange and beautiful rock formations that surround visitors in much of the park.
This was an amazing adventure in a beautiful place with a great group of people.
Some advice: Managing water is critical. You must have a way to purify water from natural sources. There are a few long stretches where there is no water available. Food is another issue. You’re running at altitude, so eating can be difficult. I carry a variety of high calorie foods. As much variety as possible, anyway. You don’t want to get caught with a pack of food that you can’t stomach.
In addition to food and water, you should bring all of the obvious back country gear. We came across a couple of very tired hikers who were just about to descend into the Grotto without any lights. We gave them a light, and they made it down safely. We were moving much faster, so running out of daylight wasn’t an issue for us. Anyway, it’s easy to get caught out. The more prepared you are, the safer you are.
There are several river crossings, shoes that drain and dry quickly are a must. We didn’t encounter any cold weather. However, a hot day can become very cold very quickly in higher elevations. You should have some way to stay warm.