I get to have a beautiful ride through the Santa Monica mountains and along the PCH every day to work but it’s still not every day that I get to experience something truly as wonderful as a National Park. It makes sense why people travel from around the world just to see places like this. America is full of jaw dropping National Parks and getting to experience even just one is a near life-altering experience. Sure I’ve witnessed plenty of amazing nature but Zion is special and easily the best place I’ve ever been to. My day and a half there was simply not long enough but at least with the America the Beautiful pass I purchased, I can easily go back anytime that I want.

My trip to Zion began with a 4 hour drive south from my hotel. I had originally planned to go to Arches, Canyonlands, and Monument Valley first but work plans brought me home early. This campground though was free and not to difficult to find a site with nobody around.
It was really frigging windy which helped with the 95+ heat but kind of made tent building difficult. Once I got the tent set up, I found some handy rocks to keep it down.
With camp set up, I hopped back in the car and set off for Zion, about 20 minutes away. I had no idea what to expect and it was already around 6pm so I knew I wouldn’t have long. I had snacks, a head lamp, and my hiking boots so I knew I’d find something quick to enjoy.
The drive to the park got better and better the closer I got to the park. The views even at that point were unreal. I could tell it was someplace special. I didn’t have a whole lot of daylight left but I made sure to take as many photos as I could. My goal was just to do the lower emerald pool hike and then see what I could until it was dark.

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As the sun began to set and darkness settled in, I continued my hike with a head lamp back to a shuttle stop to end my day. It was a short experience in Zion but a great start to get my bearings of the park and figure out what to do the next day. On the map I saw “The Narrows” and figured it seemed pretty neat. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew it would be cool.
After making it back to my campsite well after dark, I put together a nice little fire and cooked up a few hot dogs to go with my leftover beans and rice before settling in for an early sleep around midnight. I set my alarm for 6am in order to make sure I’d get an early start, sleep would be damned for this trip.

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Waking up to catch the sunrise was tough but sure was a treat. I had a loooong day ahead of me so I packed a nice sandwich, 3L of water, and a bunch of snacks into my bag. It was going to be a river hike so I put on a set of water shoes and tied up my hiking boots to my bag to keep them high and dry for later in the day.
My shoes for the hike were good at the sandy beaches as well as some of the water sections. But they were terrible for any of the MANY rocks. I was left wishing that I had just decided to soak my hiking boots and deal with squishy feet, but I made it through somehow anyways. Every single person who hiked as far as I did had these fancy canyoneering shoes that you could rent nearby the park but hey at least I saved some money. Note to past self from my feet, fuck you.
Sore feet and slow moving river trudging along were some challenges to face on this hike. But man were the views absolutely worth it. Not sure if doing all eight miles was really worth the struggle but just experiencing this adventure was part of the value. My photos do not capture the true beauty but let me tell you, it was spectacular.

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Making it to this water fall marked the end of the four mile and four hour hike. This was also the half way point since I still had to make it back. It was stunningly beautiful but man was it tough to get there. Waist deep water, rushing currents, slippery rocks, large boulders to climb; all part of the adventure.

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Making it to the end of my eight mile adventure was a struggle. I started at around 830am when I got off the bus near the Narrows and didn’t get back on another bus to head back until nearly 6pm. I still had to make it back to LA in order to make to work on Monday. But again, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. There were still more sights to see! Over the next hour, I stopped at a few shuttle stops just for photos and to take in the beauty of Zion. It was quite the adventurous day and a fitting way to conclude my trip to Utah. I had planned for a more epic conclusion but I’ll just have to save it for another adventure. Probably in a rental car but such is life.

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Till next time Utah! America the beautiful truly does mean something now. I truly had not gotten this phrase until now.