Sunday, July 30, 2023
Cedar City & Zion National Park, UT
today marks our last "rest" day* in Utah, so our last National Park visit in the state: Zion!
we woke up bright and early, and all packed into the car by 7am for the 1 hour drive from Cedar City to Zion, which meant an extra hour of sleep for everyone except Joy, our lovely driver for the day, and Andrew, who was in the zone.
first stop — the visitor center! as usual, i bought some postcards there — can you guess which one i'm planning on sending to my sister?
our original plan had been to hike the narrows, but unfortunately, due to the high chance of flash flooding, we were advised against it by the park rangers. instead, we went for Scout Lookout via a section of West Rim trail, which would be around 4 miles out-and-back and 1,488 ft (454 m) of ascent.
the hike was beaUTAHful. it consisted of a series of 21 switchbacks along the canyon wall, and led to views of Zion Canyon, with endangered California condors flying above. once Andrew and i got to the lookout, we saw that the trail kept going further up, so we decided to follow it in search of the peak. turns out that West Rim Trail is more of a backpacking trail, and continues for 15 miles straight out of the park (makes more sense now why it falls off the map we were looking at!). 4 miles in, we decided it was time to turn around (we were on track to reach — and surpass — our move goal for the day). on the way back down, we cooled off in the river, before heading back to the visitor center to meet up with the rest of the crew.
together with Joy and Lucy, who had gone on a guided ranger tour in the morning, the four of us took the shuttle into the nearest town, Springdale, for lunch. we went for Chinese food, which was delicious and quite filling! but of course, there's always room for ice cream after, so we crossed to street to the nearest ice cream place. our flavors of choice were wild huckleberry, moose tracks, mint chocolate chip, and brownie s'mores. ice cream cones in hand, we walked a mile back to Zion, stopping at a rock shop along the way.
we met up with Vin, Duha, and Katherine, and hopped into the car for our final two sites in Zion. first up: the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. completed in 1930, the 1.1 mile Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel follows the Pine Creek Canyon wall and features galleries revealing the beauty awaiting outside. it is quite an experience to emerge from the other end of the tunnel surrounded by the canyons (as seen in this TikTok)!
last stop: Canyon Overlook Trail. this 1.2 mile out-and-back trail was quite steep at times, but boy it was so worth it for the view at the top of Pine Creek Canyon and lower Zion Canyon.
after the hour long drive back to Cedar City, we went to the grocery store to purchase ingredients for dinner (and a massive $2.50 soft serve). andrew and i tag teamed to cook pork chops, mushrooms, onions, rice, and eggs — a hearty meal to close out this long day!
* petition to change the name of "rest" days to non-biking days. i walked over 30,000 steps today. 💀