Utah Pictures (28 picture)
Weeping Wall - Zion Directions: Take the shuttle to the Weeping Rock stop. [Note: Zion Canyon is only accessible via the free Zion shuttle during the summer] There are chemical toilets near the trailhead. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: It's a little short paved trail that goes up a quarter of a mile to a sandstone wall water dripping out of it. There is a viewing area behind the waterfall. Trail Length + Elevation: .5 miles roundtrip, 100 feet gained Area: Massive canyon amongst massive sandstone mountains. Note that it is a desert climate and can get very hot during the summer. Picture When I did the hike: Saturday, September 11, 2004 Recommendation: Worth the quick visit.
Angels Landing - Zion Directions: Take the shuttle to the The Grotto stop. [Note: Zion Canyon is only accessible via the free Zion shuttle during the summer] There are toilets and drinking water near the shuttle stop. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: Angels Landing, along with The Narrows, is one of the two most famous trails of Zion. Notorious is more like it. The first 2 miles and even reading about it or seeing videos of it does nothing to prepare you for the last 1/2 mile. The first 2 miles are a paved, cracked paved, dirt, or sandstone (mostly cracked paved) 2-person width trail. After crossing the bridge, the trail goes along the canyon floor for a little bit before starting heading up. It switchbacks up, up, and up and then heads through a pretty side canyon. After a nice walk through the canyon is more up with the fun of Walter's Wiggles - you take about 14 steps and then switchback, another 14 steps and then switchback, ... for about 20 times. After those switchbacks end, Scout Lookout is a short ways ahead. It is a wider, open area with 2 (very smelly) chemical toilets. A lot of people stop here. The West Rim trail continues up and the last 1/2 mile of the Angels Landing trail heads to the left. This is the scary part of the hike. It is more rock climbing and scrambling than a true trail. And it is still going up. You are heading up a steep sloped standstone mountain. Put your hiking stick away as you will need both hands available for grabbing on to rocks and ropes. For a good part of the way, there are chained ropes to hang onto and help you (and you will use them). After a while of slow going, it looks like you are heading to a peak. It is a false peak, of course. Rounding the corner, you are at the head of a saddleback and the peak of Angels Landing is visible high up ahead. This is another spot where a lot of people turn around. It is a nice resting spot, so take a rest and enjoy the views. Also look at the trail and be realistic as to whether or not you want to continue - the end is at the very top of that peak in front of you and if you look carefully, you can see parts of the trail with the chain ropes. And remember, what goes up must come down and coming down is much worse than going up (plus you'll likely have the added fun of people coming up as you are coming down). Crossing the saddleback is probably the scariest part of the hike. On the rest of the trail, you have a wall on one side of you. The saddleback is about 5 feet wide and then a massive drop to the left and right. I made it about half way across the saddleback before my nerves gave out and I carefully made my way back to the false peak and rested for a bit. [And then happily hiked the West Rim trail - give me a true trail any day.] Note: except for the portion in the canyon, most of the trail is in the open with little or no shade. Trail Length + Elevation: 2 miles to Scout Lookout .5 miles from Scout Lookout to Angels Landing total 1488 feet gained (a lot in the scary last half mile) Area: Massive canyon amongst massive sandstone mountains. Note that it is a desert climate and can get very hot during the summer. Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, September 12, 2004 Recommendation: If your nerves can take it, it is probably worth it. Don't try it if the description bothers you - reality is worse. Start as early as you can to avoid the crowds and heat. If you have to chose Angels Landing or Observation Point for time reasons, do Observation Point.
West Rim Trail - Zion Directions: Take the shuttle to the The Grotto stop. [Note: Zion Canyon is only accessible via the free Zion shuttle during the summer] There are toilets and drinking water near the shuttle stop. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: The first 2 miles for the West Rim is the same as the first 2 for Angels Landing (see above for the description of those 2 miles). From Scout Lookout leave the crowds behind and continue heading up and the cracked pavement ends a short ways ahead and the trail goes across flat (slight grade up) standstone. The views along this trail are vast and wonderful of the Virgin River valley. After a bit, the trail starts heading down (a good turning around point if you don't want to do a longer hike). After turning the corner and a couple of switchbacks down, the trail goes over a small bridge and then it is a gradual grade up for aways. Take a look at the white cliffs ahead - the trail goes to the top of those, but you have a mild hike for a while before it starts the hard climb. The trail does go through a couple of nice stretches of tree areas with shade (and annoying flies). After turning to the left, the trail starts going up more. After a couple of switchbacks, the trail heads to the right and skirts the head of a pretty side canyon. The trail then switchbacks and you start the harder up the white wall with a couple of switchbacks (the trail remains wide the whole way). When you finally finish huffing and puffing to the top, take a nice rest in the tree area for the campground at West Rim Springs. Skip the short side trip to the springs - it's just a trinkle out of the ground. This is not a good turning around point - once you've gone this far, it is only a little bit further (about 15 minutes) to some spectacular views. Take the Rim Route branch and continue going up (not steep). The area at the top was seriously damaged by a (camper) forest fire, but there are wonderful views from above (and you are above many of the other mountains (including Angels Landing)) all around. You can either hike the loop (using the Telephone Pole Trail to return to the campground) or turn around whenever you feel like it. Trail Length + Elevation: 2 miles to Scout Lookout (one-way) 3 miles to West Rim Spring campground (one-way) ?? for the loop 2640 feet gained (from The Grotto) Area: Massive canyon amongst massive sandstone mountains. Note that it is a desert climate and can get very hot during the summer. Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, September 12, 2004 Recommendation: Wonderful views and few people. A very nice hike away from the masses.
Emerald Pools, Zion Directions: Take the shuttle to the The Grotto or Zion Lodge stop. [Note: Zion Canyon is only accessible via the free Zion shuttle during the summer] There are toilets and drinking water near the both shuttle stops. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: After finishing the West Rim hike, I hiked the Kayenta Trail from The Grotto area to the Middle Emerald Pool - about a mile. It is a narrow dirt trail with a slight up. The trail goes along the Virgin River for half the way before turning into the side canyon where the pools are located. Less than a quarter of a mile before the Middle Emerald Pool, is a branch heading down to the Lower Emerald Pool trail. I continued on to the Middle Emerald Pool and was completely underwhelmed by it. There was a pretty pond just before it. The trail up to the Upper Emerald Pool is just before the Middle Emerald Pool - it's .3 miles of up to the prettiest of the 3 pools. After having a little rest and enjoying the peaceful view (before a mass of people arrived) of the upper pool, I headed back to the branch down to the Lower Emerald Pool. The Lower Emerald Pool wasn't much more than a puddle when I went, but the trail does go under the waterfall that feeds the pool is and kind of nice. I then took the Lower Emerald Pool trail 1 mile back to the Zion Lodge shuttle. I believe the Middle Emerald Pool trail is also paved - both are heavily used (the upper trail is dirt and rocks) and are a mile long. Trail Length + Elevation: about 1.3 miles one way, 200 feet gained to Upper Emerald Pool Area: Massive canyon amongst massive sandstone mountains. Note that it is a desert climate and can get very hot during the summer. Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, September 12, 2004 Recommendation: It is not a must, but pretty and not very long. The Upper Emerald Pool is the one worth visiting.
The Narrows - Zion Directions: Take the shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava stop. [Note: Zion Canyon is only accessible via the free Zion shuttle during the summer.] There are toilets and drinking water near the shuttle stop. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: Warning: The Narrows is subject to flash flooding, so check with the ranger station before going on this hike and do not attempt it if rain is in the forecast. Another thing is that you need the right gear - water shoes with good soles are a must (stores in Springdale rent them for about $16 per day; I used hiking sandals (but they tore up my feet - they were new and didn't bother me while I was hiking, but I had about 12 different raw marks after I finished [but they were fine the next 2 visits])). A hiking stick is also a must. They do have some branches along the wall at the end of the Riverside Walk, but it is better to have a real hiking stick (they also rent sticks at the stores in Springdale). Pack anything in your backpack that you don't want to get wet in ziplock bags. You will probably slip and lose your balance at least 100 times and, thus, will likely fall at least once (I plopped on my rear once). There are also a couple of deeper spots in the true Narrows section (2 miles in) - for when I went, one pool came up to my waist, but it was mostly knee high or lower. Note: In 2011 due to the extremely high snow pack, the river was much higher than usual (even in early September). There was a spot early on where the river came to chest height [I wasn't expecting that and ended up turning around and getting my backup backpack and taking the minimum stuff with it all in plastic zip bags] and after that it was mostly knee deep (some places a little higher) in the river until Big Hole (where it was neck deep and I turned around instead of going through that). So another thing to ask about at the ranger station when checking for weather issues is how high the river is running (if that will be an issue for you). Having one stick is almost required, but having two sticks makes river walking much easier. Ah, The Narrows. Zion's jewel. Bring lots of film because each corner is a new spectacular view. The hike starts with the 1 mile paved (wheelchair accessible) wide trail along the river. At the end of the pavement, the fun begins as you enter the river. You are going against the current and there are lots of rocks in the river. When in the river, walk in the sand part where you can (not always available) and make sure one foot is firmly planted before lifting the other. It is slow going in the river. The first 2 miles past the pavement is half river walking and half shore walking. Eventually you will see a side canyon (it is the only one you will see) - that is Orderville Canyon - some people do go hiking through it (go at least a little ways through the pretty side canyon). From past Orderville Canyon to Big Spring (2 miles), there is no safe high ground from flash floods. There is only small sections of shore (use it for a little easier walking), so you are in the river 70% of the time. There are also a couple of deep pools that are hard to figure out a way around or through without getting too wet. For going through, sticking near one of the sides tends to be not quite as deep. But you don't always guess right or there is just no shallow way through. Through one, it came up to my hips but coming back what I thought was the same way, it came up to my waist (the deepest it got for me). I did see some who were wet up to their chests (guess they went the wrong way). After 4.9 miles of hiking and river walking, you reach Big Springs - a pretty, about 15 foot high, wide waterfall/spring surrounded by greenery. To go further than Big Springs, you need a backcountry permit (obtainable at the visitor centers). I had lunch there and took a nice long rest while enjoy the springs. Going back was no easier than going, but the views made you not want to go at a faster pace anyways. It took me 4:15 to get to Big Springs (but I was enjoying myself and took a number of breaks). For my second visit to the Narrows, I went in late July and started my hike a little after noon. I was amazed at the large number of people there. The crowds did thin some past Orderville Canyon (but I didn't go much further). The Narrows is still spectacular, but the crowd noise does detract from the experience. So try to go when it's not as crowded or start early. Note: if you arrange the transportation to Chamberlain's Ranch, you can hike down from the top of The Narrows to the shuttle stop - 15.7 miles, either a longer day hike or over night camping in one of the camp areas north of Big Springs. Either way you will need to get a free permit (rangers do patrol). Trail Length: (all one-way) 1 mile for the paved Riverside Walk 1.8 miles from the end of the Riverside Walk to Orderville Canyon 2.1 miles from Orderville Canyon to Big Springs (this section is considered true The Narrows - there is little shore and no safe high ground) Hiking down from Chamberlain's Ranch (need a permit): 15.7 miles Area: Narrow canyon amongst massive sandstone mountains. Note that it is a desert climate and can get very hot during the summer (but The Narrows has shade with the canyon walls). Pictures When I did the hike: Monday, September 13, 2004; Friday, July 25, 2008; Friday, September 2, 2011 Recommendation: This was just fun. If you go to Zion, this is a must. Start very early to avoid the crowds (if it is cool in the morning, your body will quickly get used to the coolness of the water).
Observation Point - Zion Directions: Take the shuttle to the Weeping Rock stop. [Note: Zion Canyon is only accessible via the free Zion shuttle during the summer] There are chemical toilets near the trailhead. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: Cross the bridge and continue to the straight/slight right. The wide cracked paved trail starts heading up immediately and switchbacks for the first mile. As you are heading up, stop and face the road and you can see your destination way up there at the top of the white mountain to the right. After rounding the corner, the trail goes through a serene slot canyon - mostly level with a slight up. I really liked the last section of the canyon and spent some time there on the way back down. Then it is back to up, up, and up. After rounding the mountain a couple of times and switchbacking forever, the climbing part is finally over. It is still a little over 1/2 a mile to the end, but it is mostly level and the cracked pavement is gone - the trail is either dirt, rock, or sand. Rest and enjoy the view at the end. You are at 6507 feet elevation and have a great view of the Virgin River valley. Angels Landing is that short peak (5990 feet) slightly to the left. Except for a little bit through the canyon, there is no shade on this hike. Trail Length + Elevation: 8 miles round trip, 2148 feet gained Area: Massive canyon amongst massive sandstone mountains. Note that it is a desert climate and can get very hot during the summer. Picture When I did the hike: Tuesday, September 14, 2004; Thursday, September 1, 2011 Recommendation: After The Narrows, the next must. A lot of work, but wonderful views.
Hidden Canyon - Zion Directions: Take the shuttle to the Weeping Rock stop. [Note: Zion Canyon is only accessible via the free Zion shuttle during the summer] There are chemical toilets near the trailhead. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: Cross the bridge and continue to the straight/slight right. The wide cracked paved trail starts heading up immediately and switchbacks up to the Hidden Canyon junction, about 3/4 mile up. Take a right at the junction and the pavement soon ends and it becomes a sand and rock trial with some rock steps as the trail has short switchbacks up, up. At the sign, turn left (to the right is just a viewpoint) and the trail goes along the ridge with some chains to hang on to and the trail heads a slight down to side canyon (not Hidden Canyon) and makes a U at the canyon and heads up the other side with more chains to clutch on to as the trail goes up the slick rock. The trail rounds the bend at the top and then heads a mild down to Hidden Canyon (there are some neat looks down into some carved rocks along this down). The official trail ends at the start of Hidden Canyon and you have to do some rock climbing to actually go into the canyon (being that I'm not a rock climber, I stopped there). The view into the canyon at the end of the trail is not exciting. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.2 miles round trip, 1000 feet gained Area: Massive canyon amongst massive sandstone mountains. Note that it is a desert climate and can get very hot during the summer. Picture When I did the hike: Thursday, September 1, 2011 Recommendation: Nope. Not that pretty of a slot canyon. If Hidden Canyon sounded neat to you, instead of going there, continue up the Observation Point trail to it's canyon and go through and above that pretty canyon (then turn around there if you aren't up for the full Observation Point hike).
Canyon Overlook trail - Zion Directions: From Springdale, drive Hwy 9 east and go through the tunnel. The parking area is _just_ after the end of the tunnel on the right (if you miss it, there is a pullover area on the left a short ways ahead that holds a handful of cars). No facilities $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: The stone, one-person width trail starts heading up with steps and rails. It then levels out some and there are occasionally guard rails on one side. A 10-foot wooden platform overhangs air and puts some people's nerves on edge, but on the other side is a pretty underhang area. The trail continues on to a viewing area of Pine Creek canyon (which the road goes through on the west side of the tunnel) - it is directly above the enclosed arch (The Great Arch) that can be seen on the west side of the tunnel [no view of the arch from the trail]. Trail Length + Elevation: 1 mile round trip, 163 feet gained Area: Massive canyon amongst massive sandstone mountains. Note that it is a desert climate and can get very hot during the summer. When I did the hike: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 Recommendation: Unless you are bored, you can skip this one.
Rampart Overlook trail - Cedar Breaks Directions: Hwy 14 to Hwy 148 to the visitor center. The trail starts to the left in the parking area. Toilets and small park store. $3 per day or National Parks Pass Trails: It is too bad that Cedar Breaks National Monument is so close to Zion and Bryce because it doesn't get the attention it deserves. On the other hand, it doesn't have the crowds of those 2 parks (but it also doesn't have the trails into the amphitheater). Cedar Breaks' amphitheater is similar to Bryce's (but smaller). The Ramparts Overlook trail goes along the rim to 2 overlook points with wonderful views into the amphitheater. The packed dirt trail starts with a little up and then a little down and then a lot bigger up. After passing the water towers about 1/2 mile in, the rest is down (which means you will be going up on the return). A mile in is the Spectra Point overlook - if you are short on time, at least go to this viewpoint. There are a lot of neat bristlecone pines between Spectra Point and Ramparts Overlook. From Spectra Point, the trail takes a down for a bit and a mile further and through the edge of the forest is the Ramparts Overlook. Very pretty and you'll probably have it to yourself. It's more work (up hill) heading back. Trail Length: 2 miles, one-way; about 400 feet Area: Massive orange and white rock amphitheater. Picture When I did the hike: Wednesday, September 15, 2004; Saturday, September 3, 2011 Recommendation: A must. The views are wonderful and there are a couple of funky looking trees at the two overlooks.
Alpine Pond trail - Cedar Breaks Directions: Hwy 14 to Hwy 148 to the Chessmen Ridge Overlook. The trail starts to the right. No facilities. $3 per day or National Parks Pass Trails: It is starts as a wide gravel trail, but narrows to a dirt one-person width trail at the upper and lower junction. The lower trail goes through a pine forest with a few (not many) views into the amphitheater. The pond is nothing exciting. If you want to take the upper trail back (not worth it), it goes up with a bit of a climb from the pond and then heads right. It goes through the forest (no amphitheater views) with some views of the road. The trail is a nice little nature trail, but nothing exciting. Trail Length: 2 mile loop. Area: Massive orange and white rock amphitheater. When I did the hike: Wednesday, September 15, 2004 Recommendation: Na. The views are more impressive from the overlooks and the pond isn't very pretty.
Rim Trail - Bryce Directions: In Bryce Canyon National Park, many access points between Fairyland Point and Bryce Point. Facilities (at store) at Sunrise Point and Sunset Point parking area and in campground (none at other parking spots). $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: The rim trail extends for 5.5 miles between Fairlyland Point and Bryce Point. The section between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point is paved and the rest of the trail is dirt - but it is a wide trail. The views into the Fairyland amphitheater and Main amphitheater from the rim trail are almost constant and grand. You can't go wrong with doing any portion of the rim trail. I use the rim trail from Sunrise Point to Fairyland Point as part of the full Fairyland Loop and the section between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point is the tourist area. In 2011, after hiking below the rim stuff, I walked the rim trail from Sunrise Point all the way to Bryce Point and took many, many pictures. Although I always tell people that you have to hike into one of the amphitheaters to fully enjoy Bryce, you also need those views from the rim and the rim trail gives you more than the singular views from the overlook points. Keep in mind that it is not a level trail most of the time - there are a number of small ups and downs and some larger ups and down (especially around the Inspiration Point area). Trail Length: 5.5 miles Area: Massive orange and white rock amphitheaters. When I did the hike: Partial hikes each visit in 2004, 2008, 2011 Recommendation: Yup. Impossible to visit Bryce without going on some of the rim trail.
Fairyland Loop - Bryce Directions: In Bryce Canyon National Park, park at Sunrise Point or Fairyland Point. Facilities (at store) at Sunrise Point. No facilities at Fairyland Point. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: I started at Sunrise Point and headed along the rim trail to Fairyland point for 2.5 miles. The rim trail for this section is dirt (it is paved between Sunrise and Sunset Points). It is also dirt in the amphitheater and it is a wide, about 2-person width trail. The hike along the rim is not pure level - it does have a bit of a up and down. And there are some nice views of the amphitheaters along the way. From the Fairyland viewpoint, it is 5.5 miles through the amphitheaters back to Sunrise Point (and 4 miles to the unimpressive Tower Bridge). The trail goes down into the valley and amongst the many hoodoos (the sandstone columns). It's wonderful. The trail goes over a couple of ridges before descending near the Tower Bridge - a standstone structure that resembles a bridge. It skipped the .3 mile side trip to the bridge (as I said, it didn't look that impressive compared to everything I had already seen) [took the sidetrip it on my 2nd visit]. The last mile of the hike heading back up to the rim isn't that exciting or impressive [so if you hike this trail counterclockwise, don't be disappointed and turn around at the Tower Bridge - the better part is still ahead]. Trail Length + Elevation: 8 miles, 2309 feet gained and lost total (almost 1000 feet from highest to lowest point, but there are lots of ups and downs along the way) Area: Massive orange and white rock amphitheaters. Pictures When I did the hike: Thursday, September 16, 2004; Saturday, July 26, 2008; Tuesday, August 30, 2011 Recommendation: It's a beautiful hike. If you go to Bryce, you _must_ hike into into one of the amphitheaters to get the full affect - just seeing it from above is doing yourself a disservice.
Queens Garden Trail - Bryce Directions: In Bryce Canyon National Park, park at Sunrise Point. Facilities at general store. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: The 2-person width dirt trail meanders down 320 feet amongst the hoodoos to a junction. Take a right at the junction for a little bit of up to a look at a hoodoo that looks like Queen Victoria if you squint [and there was an English couple that said it really did look like her]. Back at the junction, the trail continues amongst the hoodoos towards the bottom of the Navajo Loop. Trail Length + Elevation: .8 miles from Sunrise Point to Queen Victoria .8 miles from Queen Victoria to bottom Navajo Loop 320 feet lost (.6 miles from Najavo Loop and 550 feet up to Sunset Point and then 1 mile and a little bit down back to Sunrise Point to complete the loop, or hike back the way you came) Area: Massive orange and white rock amphitheater. When I did the hike: Thursday, September 16, 2004; Wednesday, August 31, 2011 Recommendation: Wonderful. This is the mildest (but still a bit of a climb out) trail into the amphitheater. If you are very short for time, this is the trail to do. Otherwise combine this with the Peekaboo Loop to get the full enjoyment of Bryce.
Peekaboo Loop Trail - Bryce Directions: In Bryce Canyon National Park, park at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, or Inspiration Point. Facilities at general store at Sunrise Point. Toilets at Sunset Point. No facilities at Inspiration Point. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: To get to Peekaboo Loop, hike half of the Navajo Loop to the bottom or hike the Queens Garden trail to the bottom of the Navajo Loop and head east along the wash about .5 miles to Peekaboo Loop or hike down the Bryce Point trail 1.1 miles (and about 900 feet down) to Peekaboo Loop. First the bad news: it is a combo trail of both horses and hikers. When the horses come, you need to move off the trail until they pass. The good news: it is the prettiest hike in the park. I hiked this clockwise (which is also the same direction the horses go and would recommend it being hiked this way). Starting from the wash junction and heading clockwise, it is 1.3 miles to the Bryce Point Trail junction. The trail starts by heading up and there are a number of isolated hoodoos (not a ton bunched together that you see in other areas). Then there are some ups and downs and then an up to the junction. A short ways after the junction is a down to the lowest point and a horse coral where the riders take a break (there is also a toilet here). After the coral, the views become stunning. It is also the harder section of the trail, but a must. You will soon get your first view of the windows, two holes above in the white sandstone - the first time I saw them, it took my breath away. Then trail then makes it's way amongst a number of bunches of hoodoos. The trail switchbacks steeply up twice and heads down after each climb. Stop a couple of times and find a nice spot (off the trail so you don't have to worry about the horses) and rest and enjoy the views. For my 2nd visit to Bryce, I first watched the sunrise at Bryce Point and then took the spur trail from Bryce Point down to the Peekaboo Loop Trail. The spur trail weaves its way down, going by a number of neat looking hoodoos and even through a tunnel - extra pretty in the morning light. I did the back half of the Peekaboo Loop (still love The Windows) and then up Wall Street and then caught the free park shuttle back to Bryce Point for a shorter outing. Trail Length + Elevation: 3 miles, about 655 gained and lost [just for the loop, not including what it takes to get to and from the loop] Area: Massive orange and white rock amphitheater. Pictures When I did the hike: Thursday, September 16, 2004; Sunday, July 27, 2008 (half loop); Wednesday, August 31, 2011 (half loop) Recommendation: Not an easy hike, but the views are stunning. I combined this with the Queens Garden trail and hiked up Wall Street of the Navajo Loop for a wonderful half day hike of about 7.3 miles [and hiked the 8 mile Fairyland Loop in the morning for an awesome full day at Bryce]. The sunrise and Bryce Point-half Peekaboo Loop hike is one that I recommend to others.
Navajo Loop Trail - Bryce Directions: In Bryce Canyon National Park, park at Sunset Point. Toilets. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: It doesn't matter which way you go, you are going to be switchbacking like crazy. The Wall Street switchback section seems to be a little bit longer than the north section of switchbacks. The trail switchbacks, switchbacks, and switchbacks down through a canyon of hoodoos. At the bottom of the switchbacks on the Wall Street side is a more gentle grade through a narrow canyon and then along a stream bed to the half way point. There is a short side trip on the south side to a view of 2 bridges (worth the short trip). Trail Length + Elevation: .7 miles for Wallstreet section (south) .6 miles for north section about 540 feet down and up Area: Massive orange and white rock amphitheater. Picture When I did the hike: Thursday, September 16, 2004 (up Wall Street); Friday, September 17, 2004 (loop); Wednesday, August 31, 2011 (loop) Recommendation: Call me crazy, but I had a blast hiking up Wall Street both times. Maybe it was just the fun of going past people who were heading down and looking at me like I was crazy for going up that way (especially since I was doing it without stopping, except for pausing to let people coming down pass). Anyways, it is a wonderful hard loop through narrow canyons with tall sandstone walls and hoodoos on both sides. Remember, what goes down must come up.
Riggs Spring Loop Trail - Bryce Directions: In Bryce Canyon National Park, park at Yovimpa Point (south end of the park). Chemical toilets. $20 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: Going to the furthest southern point of Bryce gets you away from the crowds. It also gets you away from the pretty main amphitheater. I didn't encounter anyone else along this hike. It is an 8.8 mile loop mostly through the forest with a couple of views into small amphitheaters with hoodoos. I hiked counterclockwise. The first 1.8 miles of the one-person width dirt trail headed at a gentle down through a forest with some burn marks to Yovimpa Pass. After the pass, the trail heads down further. There are some nice views of the Pink Cliffs along the way - but you are seeing them at a distance, the trail doesn't go near them. The bugs start coming out the closer you get to Riggs Springs and remain for a while. The springs are just a trinkle and nothing of note. There are no cliff or hoodoo views for several miles as the trail continues through the forest. You do get some nice cliff and hoodoo views around the Coral Hollow campsite. After reaching the Promontory tip, the trail stays in the woods the rest of the way with no cliff or hoodoo views. The trail goes at a gentle up from the Coral Hollow campsite back to the rim - no hard climb. Trail Length + Elevation: 8.8 miles, 2248 feet (total, includes ups and downs) Area: Forest and smaller orange rock amphitheaters. Picture When I did the hike: Friday, September 17, 2004 Recommendation: The hikes in the main amphitheater are much better. There are not many cliff and hoodoo views along the hike - you see more from the rim viewpoints. The bugs drove me nuts (and the didn't bother me at all on the other hikes).
Grand Wash Trail - Capitol Reef Directions: Hwy 24 to the Scenic Drive (paved) to the Grand Wash dirt road (4-wheel drive not needed) for about a mile to the trailhead or Hwy 24 to the picnic pullover area on the southside on the east side of the park. $5 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: Note that this is flash flood country and you definitely do not want to hike this trail with bad weather. The trail is basically a dry creek bed through a sandstone canyon. There are a some parts were a trail goes along the wash, but mostly it is in the wash. The canyon is about 30 feet wide. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.25 miles one-way, level Area: sandstone canyon When I did the hike: Saturday, September 18, 2004 Recommendation: If you have the extra time, it is a nice easy trail. Having just done Zion and Bryce, the canyon didn't excite me, though.
Hickman Bridge Trail - Capitol Reef Directions: Hwy 24 to the Hickman Bridge Trail parking area. $5 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: The dirt or slate rock trail goes up to a natural bridge (not visible from the road) and then under it with a short loop at the end and then goes back the way it came. Trail Length + Elevation: 1 mile one way, little bit of a climb, but not steep Area: standstone hills and mountains Picture When I did the hike: Saturday, September 18, 2004 Recommendation: It is not a difficult hike or long, so worth the short visit (though if you've just come from Arches you might not find it interesting).
The Windows - Arches Directions: In Arches National Park, park at The Windows Section. Chemical toilets. $10 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: It is just a short, flat, gravel and rock trail that goes by 4 arches. Trail Length: 1 mile loop Area: Sandstone columns with arches. Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, September 19, 2004 Recommendation: Yup. You are here to see arches and this is a good place to start.
Delicate Arch - Arches Directions: In Arches National Park, park at the Wolfe Ranch parking area Chemical toilets. $10 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: This is the longer, harder way to see the distinctive Delicate Arch. It is also the way to get next to it. The wide dirt trail soon gives way to going over slate rock and you have a little bit of a climb while following the rock cairns. The trail then goes along a ledge (with a small arch visible across the way and another one above) and then over a small ledge. At the small ledge you get your first view of Delicate Arch and you can walk all the way under it. Note that it was very windy on the other side of the ledge and around the Delicate Arch. Can be crowded (though I had poor weather, so there were only a few who made the hike). Trail Length + Elevation: 1.5 miles, 480 feet one-way Area: Sandstone hills and columns with arches. Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, September 19, 2004 Recommendation: Yup. It's a huge arch and worth a close and far visit.
Delicate Arch Overlook - Arches Directions: In Arches National Park, park at the Delicate Arch Viewpoint. Chemical toilets. $10 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: This is the shorter trail to viewing areas across a canyon from Delicate Arch. The trail starts as a fence lined wide dirt trail and then heads up a rock trail and then you wander over to the canyon edge and up as far as you want. Trail Length: .5 miles one-way Area: Sandstone columns with arches. Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, September 19, 2004 Recommendation: Yup. It's a huge arch and worth a close and far visit.
Fiery Furnace - Arches Directions: In Arches Nation Park, park at the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint Chemical toilets. $10 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass $8 for the guided tour - they do the tour twice a day (morning and afternoon) and limit each tour to a maximum of 25 people. Sign up at the visitor center as early as possible. Trails: There is no true trail, just walking (some tough) through washes and across rock. You are only allowed to enter the area on a guided walk. The guide will talk about some nature and arch related things and you will see a number of arches along the way. There are a couple of difficult spots (you need to wear shoes with good traction), but all in the group were able to traverse the hike - including a some of out-of-shape non-hikers. Trail Length: About 3 hours of guided hiking at a very slow pace. Area: Sandstone columns with arches. Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, September 19, 2004 Recommendation: If you have the time, it is worth doing.
Devils Garden - Arches Directions: In Arches Nation Park, park at Devils Garden Trailhead. Chemical toilets. $10 per week (for a car load) or National Parks Pass Trails: The trail starts as a wide gravel trail to Landscape Arch. You can take the short side trips to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch either at the start or the end. Landscape Arch is a long thin arch. After Landscape Arch, the trail starts to get fun as you leave the gravel behind and start doing a lot of walking on rock. Definitely take the side trips to Navajo Arch (with its pretty isolated cove) and Partition Arch (the small double arch you can see from Landscape Arch). The trail goes up, then across a ledge, and then down (follow the rock cairns) and you are near Double O Arch. Skip the side trip to Dark Angel - it is just the solo column you can see from Double O Arch and the trail is uneventful. The primitive trail heads from Double O Arch for a longer loop through the sandstone canyons back to Landscape Arch. It involves more hiking across rock and some through dry washes - again, keep an eye for the rock cairns. Do take the side trip to Private Arch and also keep an eye out for unmarked arches. There is one spot where it is difficult to figure out which way the trail goes - it does go over the large rock mound (it is the most difficult part of the trail), but traversing it is not as scary as it looks. The last about mile of the primitive loop is kind of boring as it goes through open areas and the trail is sand. I had lots of fun on this hike. Trail Length + Elevation: about 7 miles total (including the side trips) .8 miles to Landscape Arch 1.3 miles from Landscape Arch to Double O Arch 2.2 miles for the primitive trail Area: Sandstone columns with arches. Picture When I did the hike: Monday, September 20, 2004 Recommendation: Really neat. Go as early as possible. There was 1 car in the parking area when I started around 8 am and the parking area was completely full when I finished around noon.
Natural Bridges Directions: Free. Trails: Area: Picture When I did the hike: November 1995 Recommendation: Loved it. [pulled from an old letter: I hiked down to the canyon and wandered down there for a couple of hours including climbing up to the Horsecollar ruins which was the neatest thing as there were no barriers around the ruins and you were on the honor system (there also is not a set path to get up there - you have to find your own way, but there is an info and sign-in sheet near the ruins).]