As you can probably tell from my title, I enjoyed our second day in Zion National Park more than our first. After heavy wind and rain the evening before, the skies cleared for an absolutely gorgeous autumn day. This day was a Saturday and the park was even more crowded than the previous day, but somehow we were able to find little pockets of solitude.
We started off the day with the Watchman Trail, which begins right at the visitor center. I thought this trail was going to be packed, but it was surprisingly not bad. We saw other people on the trail, but we were staggered enough that we were able to hike mostly by ourselves. The beginning of the trail briefly meandered by the Virgin River and we saw this handsome heron (who, like the deer, was not scared of us at all).
We soon began gaining elevation up the mountain. When I was planning our trip, I read that the Watchman Trail had only mediocre views and was only good for filling up a couple extra hours. I have to disagree with that review. This ended up being my favorite trail we did at Zion. It was not crowded, even though the park was, and I thought the views were fantastic the entire way.
We zig- zagged up switch backs until we eventually made it to a sort of plateau, offering grand views of the red rock mountains and the valley.
We saw people below us making their way up the switch backs, but we were fortunate enough to have at least 30 minutes alone at the top before anybody else came. The three of us were able to sit quietly, have a snack, rest, and just take it all in. It was the first time I felt like I could actually enjoy the park. I wasn’t rushed, and it was just my little family surrounded by a red rock wonderland.
After a while, we headed back down and spotted a herd of bighorn sheep on the opposite side of the ravine. It is always a special experience to watch wildlife while you are sharing the same space with them, instead of whizzing by in a car.
After finishing the Watchman Trail, we fetched our car and headed out on the Mt. Carmel Highway, which takes you through a couple of tunnels and accesses the eastern part of the park. We saw another bighorn sheep from the car and we were able to get a better picture of him.
There was absolutely no parking available for the one short trail in this part of the park, so we skipped it and did our own exploring. This area ended up being my favorite scenery of the whole park. I’ve seen mountains and valleys before, but this was something new. The earth was composed of giant waves of red rock, solidified into all sorts of shapes and varieties. It was almost other- worldly. There were numerous patterns on the rocks, anywhere from swirls to checkerboards.
We didn’t hike any actual trails, but we parked at a couple of pull- outs and explored a little. There were people and cars all around, but nobody was precisely where we were. It wasn’t exactly solitude, but it was close enough. We were able to breathe in and experience this special place on our own terms. The sun’s evening glow on the rocks made the area even more magical.
Having the opportunity to get away from our everyday lives and see someplace new is a wonderful blessing. It allows for more intimate family time as we were distanced from distractions and chores. Also, seeing a new wonder of creation fills my soul with fresh awe. Knowing that God personally hand- crafted areas such as this for our enjoyment and benefit is truly humbling and gives me ever more to be thankful for.
1 Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.