Hike: Observation Point
If you have yet to make it to Zion National Park in Southwest Utah, I demand you put it on your list as soon as possible! Zion is by far one of the most beautiful places in America and quite possibly the world. With it's dramatic towering red cliffs and the gorgeous Virgin river, it is a place you won't soon forget.
Erik & I stopped in Zion for a quick four day rendez-vous on our way back to Idaho last year. He had never been before and I can't resist stopping in any park whenever I'm close by. We hadn't really planned on the little detour so we stopped at the closest Walmart on our way into the park and camped out of the car for a few days. Ahhhh, the beauty of life on the road!
We wanted to do at least ONE epic hike while we were there so we planned on doing Angel's Landing. (Easily one of the most popular hikes at Zion; I guarantee you've seen amazing photos of it all over Instagram.) After talking to some of the rangers and locals of Springdale, we heard about a different hike, named Observation Point, that went all the way to the rim of the canyon and looked down on the entire valley. Less traffic and higher views? We were sold.
Erik sweet talked his way into securing us a spot at the Watchmen Campground for the night and we woke up with these beauties towering over us. This campground typically fills up fast. It is located 1/4 mile from the south entrance and has 176 regular sites. They take reservations March - November. At $20 a night for a tent campsite, you really can't go wrong.
We woke up in the morning and hopped on the shuttle bus that takes you into Zion Canyon. If you decide to do the Observation Point hike, get off at the Weeping Rock Trailhead. It is the 7th stop along the shuttle. The hike is 8 miles round trip and baby, it is a HIKE. It is almost all uphill, but there are some nice breaks along the way in Echo Canyon and once you make it up to the rim.
Within a half hour, there were already views of Weeping Rock and Angel's Landing. We passed the trailhead for Hidden Canyon, but didn't have the time to explore this offshoot. I've heard it's a pretty awesome detour if you have a few hours to check it out. Soon we were in part of the trail known as Echo Canyon. This was one of the best parts of the hike. You'll find yourself surrounded by gigantic red canyon walls with tiny slot canyons everywhere. When you come out on the other side, the rock formations and scenery has completely changed.
The white sandstone cliffs are really something. We made sure to stop so we could snack (the best part of hiking, am I right?!) and hydrate on our way up more zig zagging cliffsides. This hike has over 2,100 feet of elevation gain one way, so take a few minutes to catch your breath once in a while.
The last mile to Observation Point is on the rim of the canyon and is mostly flat. YAY! No more switchbacks! Well, until you have to go back down... Either way, the view is AMAZING and completely mesmerizing. I completely recommend all the sweat and sore legs. You won't regret it!
Behold... Zion Canyon in all of it's majestic glory. You can also see the Virgin River and Angel's Landing on the right hand side of the canyon.
We hiked the four miles back down to Weeping Rock and took off our shoes. It felt so good to relax for a little while before hopping back on the shuttle. I do believe we treated ourselves to margaritas and tacos for dinner that night.
There are so many gorgeous hikes in Zion it is difficult to choose which one to do if you only have a few days in the park. This one took about 5-6 hours, but we did stop quite a few times to snack and take photographs. If you can handle the strenuous switchbacks, the views along the way are well worth the effort it takes getting to the top. :)
For more information and current conditions in Zion National Park:
ALL PHOTOS ARE MINE. Please do not post without permission or tagging @cheyennedejohn / @cheyennemoondesigns.