Zion National Park – My Camping Trip Recap

I just got back from my latest camping trip, a three day trip to Zion National Park (official site) in the southwestern corner of Utah.

Zion National Park - The Watchman

This trip marks the return to my camping days for the first time in about 18 years. And, the first time I’ve been camping with my wife. We took this trip to celebrate our 15th anniversary and left the kids with the grandparents.

The weather in March can be kind of iffy, but everything aligned perfectly for our trip. Highs in the lower 80s with lows around 50 each day. We were very fortunate as the weather turned after we left and is currently seeing highs in the upper 50s to lower 60s.

Day One at Zion

We tent-camped in the South Campground and after setting up camp, immediately set out for our first hike – The Watchman Trail.

The Watchman Trail is about a 5.5 mile roundtrip hike with an elevation gain of about 500 feet. We completed the round trip in about 2.5 hours which included time at the top for a little picnic. The view from the top gives you a nice view of the valley below.

The Zion National Park valley from Watchman trail

Day Two at Zion

Day Two saw our attempt at Angels Landing, the most famous hike at the park. The Angels Landing hike is a 10 mile roundtrip with 1500 feet of elevation gain that take 4-5 hours to complete and is rated Strenuous. People have died on this hike, including someone earlier this month.

Unfortunately, I needed to turn back at about the halfway point due to some knee discomfort, but my wife kept going. She eventually reached Scouts Landing after Walter’s Wiggles. She turned back at that point due to the crowds waiting to get to the top.

Zion National Park from Angels Landing Trail

Day Three at Zion

On Day Three, we broke camp early, parked the truck, and hit up a few additional trails. First stop was the Weeping Rock Trail to see the natural spring that drips from the cliff face. Water slowly filters through the sandstone wall until it hits an impermeable layer of shale which forces it out the side. The water, which has been dated to 1200 years old, feeds the hanging gardens of ferns and moss before continuing in to the Virgin River

Weeping Rock at Zion National Park

After Weeping Rock, we took a quick hike up the Riverside Walk Trial to the entrance of The Narrows. The Narrows is another famous hike in Zion in which you can venture in the narrow slot canyon from which the Virgin River appears. The hike is seasonal and usually doesn’t open until very late spring and through the summer. The entire Narrows hike is about 16 miles, but most people opt for round trip of a much shorter distance. In the summer time when temps soar to 100 or more, this is popular as most of the hike is wet in the cool mountain runoff and the shade of the soaring canyon walls.

The Narrows trailhead

We then did the extremely short hike to the Patriarch observation point before leaving the park. We had a hotel room reserved for the third night in order to clean up and prep for our 16 hour drive home. In a fit of irony, after checking in and showering, the entire area lost power for about 2.5 hours.

I was disappointed in my attempt at Angels Landing and vow to conquer it the next time we visit. We also saved some hikes for future trips: Emerald Pool trails, Hidden Canyon Trail and the Observation Point Trail.