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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, May 09, 2014

Two Views Of Zion National Park

Kolob Arch, in the Kolob Canyons Section of Zio
With summer fast approaching, news media are publishing more articles about travel to Utah's Mighty 5 National Parks. I stumbled onto a couple good ones today, both focusing on Zion National Park. Here are headlines and excerpts.

Where the Mojave Desert meets the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin, visitors will find hanging gardens – wildflowers, ferns and moss growing along the steep cliffs – and cattails juxtaposed against the vast red sandstone canyons for which Zion is best known. And the park's diversity doesn't end with the landscape. From climbing to canyoneering, the park offers guests countless ways to experience its diverse environment.

No hiking list is complete without mention of Angels Landing. One of the most famous trails among all National Parks, the 2.4-mile path is not for the faint of heart. This narrow trail presents hikers with steep switchbacks, long drop-offs and chain cables towards the summit. For those that survive the strenuous hike to the top, the rewards are unmatched – views of Zion Canyon are spectacular from its peak.

Hiking down Taylor Creek in Zion National Park in southern Utah, I feel like I’m in a painting, and the artist splashes on more color with every turn in the trail. The sides of the narrow canyon’s 500-foot-tall, red sandstone cliffs glow in the morning sun. Quaking aspens whisper in the breeze, and overhead a seamless, turquoise sky frames the scene.

Despite the majestic setting and easy trail, only a few hikers disturb nature’s reverie. We’re on the secret side of Zion.

“Nearly 3 million people a year visit Zion National Park, but only about 10 percent get to the Kolob Canyons side,” park ranger Brian Raper says. “The busy season goes from spring break to Thanksgiving.” Even then, few people venture past the viewpoints.

With no reason to hurry, I take my time and spend two nights on the trail. The fanciest resort in the world can’t match the majesty of red rock cliffs highlighted by the deep greens of pines and junipers, the intense sky overhead, and a tumbling mountain stream. As the sun sets each night, the canyon, with some of the tallest sandstone cliffs in the world, reflects the fading rays like a blazing torch.


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