When you think of Utah, what comes to mind? For my roommate, it’s Mormons and Salt Lake City. Now if that summarizes Utah for you, I am here to inform you that there is so much more to our neighboring state than that.
Down in the southwest corner of Utah, resides the Zion National Park, which is chock full of beautiful sites and, I assume, people other than Mormons. Zion is a healthy five to six-hour drive away, depending on how fast you drive, which can be considered a long time just to go to some state park when there are so many already here in Colorado. However, this substantial drive is well worth the breathtaking sites, that I only have ever seen in Zion.
There are numerous sites and trails within the park that offer great scenery and experiences; however, there are two specific trails that steal the show from all of the other attractions: The Narrows and Angel’s Landing.
The Narrows is a trail that follows the river that winds through the canyon. It follows the river into the deep end of the canyon where the rock narrows— creative, I know, and makes you feel as if you are in a room made by nature.
The water is really cold though, so for the first ten minutes or so of walking in the river, your feet are in pain unless you’re willing to spend the money on some fancy waterproof boots. I opted to go in with converse.
Once the feet go numb, it gets really fun since you forget about the feeling in your toes and start to really enjoy the scenery that you’re in. There are waterfalls and rapids scattered along the river and some parts get deep enough to become fully submerged.
The trek goes as far as you want, just turn around when you get tired of walking through water that makes you forget what feet feel like. Outside of the Narrows lies the peak that looks over the entire valley: Angel’s Landing.
It is a decently strenuous hike to get to the top and it flexes its toughness in the steep switchbacks that lead up the practically 90-degree angle that is the side of a cliff; several hikers are usually seen here turning around and taking their jeans and fancy shoes back to the shuttle bus.
For those either willing to push through the poor clothing options or to dress properly, the switchbacks lead to the ridgeline of Angel’s Landing. Here the lines get pretty congested with the several people holding onto the provided chains that provide the much-needed handholds that save several people from plummeting to their deaths.
However, if you are like me, lines aren’t very appealing and going around the safety nets to get to the top faster sounds infinitely more fun. To be clear, I am in no way condoning this dangerous behavior… simply saying it is an option.
This path leads to one of the hidden secrets of Angel’s Landing: people watching. When you go around the restraints and climb to the very edge of the cliff to peer down the instadeath drop, it becomes commonplace to overhear others whispering to each other about how “those kids are crazy” or even how “there are idiots everywhere” and these comments only fuel the daredevil within.
Once on top of the landing, you can see the entire valley sprawled out in front of and behind you, the valley walls play tricks on the eyes as it is quite difficult to focus on the massive slabs of stone and the river looks like a ribbon, wrapping down the park. The sight by itself is reason enough to make the trip, give Utah a chance and get a little more outdoors.