Sunday , June 25, 2017 - 12:00 AM
To kick off the summer, my best friend and I went on our first adventure by ourselves to Zion National Park here in Utah.
For anyone thinking about taking a trip without parents before they turn 18, I highly recommend going somewhere in-state — like Zion — that’s still far enough away so you feel independent. That way, you do have to fend for yourself, but if something goes wrong, you’re in a semi-familiar place.
We left on Friday, June 9, and drove for about five hours until we reached Hurricane, where we stayed in an apartment. The drive was surprisingly easy being that I’ve never been on a road trip by myself. There were gas stations and small towns about every 20 minutes, so I felt safe and secure the entire drive.
When we arrived in Hurricane, we went out to eat and went to bed early for the morning ahead of us.
The next day we woke up at 5 a.m., put on our hiking gear, and left to go to Zion National Park. The sun was already up, but it was still perfectly cool outside, and perfect for hiking.
The park itself is gorgeous, and if you’re a Utahn who hasn’t been, you should absolutely put Zion on your “to visit” list. Zion is the fourth most popular national park in the United States, and gets more than 4 million visitors a year.
Zion draws so many visitors that in the year 2000, the park launched a shuttle system to reduce the amount of car noise and exhaust. The shuttle system is completely free and accessible, and is something we used the entire day we were there. It’s easy to use and the shuttles come very frequently to each stop.
Look, falls ahead
Now, on to the park itself.
We only spent about half a day in Zion but I look forward to spending a lot more time in it next time I visit. We arrived at about 6 a.m. and immediately got onto a shuttle to the Weeping Rock Trail. This trail is only half a mile but it takes about 30-40 minutes round trip because it’s very steep.
Most people also spend 10-15 minutes at the weeping rock itself. The hike is nice and because of the elevation gain, you get a really great view of the red rock on the other side of the canyon.
The weeping rock itself is, for lack of a better word, a cliff/rock wall. It’s called “weeping” rock because snowmelt/rainwater fall off the edge of the cliff, making it look like the rock is crying.
When you reach the rock, you can sit down behind where the water falls, which gives the illusion that it’s raining. Although we did this hike first in the morning, I would recommend doing it in the middle to end of your day because the trail is shady and cool, and the water is very refreshing.
The actual “weeping rock” is beautiful, and pictures hardly do it justice. It’s hard to capture the illusion of rain the water gives, and it’s something you’d have to see in person in order to understand its beauty.
• Story continues below video
Next, we took the plunge and went to the Temple of Sinawava, also known as “the gateway to The Narrows.” The Temple of Sinawava is the furthest you can go in the park using the shuttles, and is where the famous Narrows Trail begins.
If you haven’t heard of The Narrows, it’s arguably the most famous hike in the park, maybe after Angel’s Landing. The Narrows is what it sounds like; a trail where you hike through an extremely narrow canyon next to the Virgin River. While my friend and I didn’t hike the full Narrows due to lack of time and equipment, we did do the Riverside Walk.
The Riverside Walk is a two-mile hike alongside the Virgin River. Hikers must first complete this trail before they hike the Narrows. My friend and I did the whole walk and went into the Narrows for a little way before we turned around. In the Narrows, you hike in waist-deep water in the Virgin River, so you need to be prepared with waterproof shoes and clothes.
The entire Narrows trail is 16 miles, but hikers can choose to end it whenever they like.
Although I didn’t hike as much of the Narrows as I would’ve liked, the parts I did hike were gorgeous and the Riverside Walk hike was incredibly easy. Like with the Weeping Rock Trail, the pictures I took of the Riverside Walk do the actual hike no justice, but they give you an idea of their beauty.
After we completed the Riverside Walk, it was about 1 p.m. so we decided to wrap up for the day. We took the shuttle back down to the South Campground, where we hiked the Pa’rus Trail to the visitor’s center.
The Pa’rus Trail was more of a two-mile stroll than a hike, but was perfect since we, being the nonhikers we are, were pretty tired.
Unfortunately, my camera died before we reached this hike so I didn’t get any pictures, but imagine a beautiful trail and red rock, and you’re all set.
All in all, I would recommend Zion National Park to anyone looking for a small yet fun and rewarding adventure. It definitely doesn’t get 4 million visitors a year for no reason, so definitely put Zion on your travel list if you haven’t been already.
Laney Baumann will be a senior this fall at Syracuse High School. She loves reading, writing and music. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up for e-mail news updates.