Utahs' Mighty 5 National Parks, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands are all characterized by a dry, desert climate. For most of the year, precipitation is scarce, with blue skies and sunshine the rule, not the exception. So, you might be surprised to find that a trip marked by an unexpected fall storm and heavy rain in Zion National Park made for a trip I'll never forget.

Several years ago, I took a trip to Zion over Thanksgiving break in the hopes of ascending one of the climbing routes on Angel's Landing. When we arrived, strong winds buffeted our tent and gathering clouds dampened our moods. We woke the next morning to the unmistakable sound of raindrops on the tent's vestibule.

Following a soggy breakfast, we headed into the park and, as we headed into the heart of the canyon, a magical panorama began to unfold. The heavy clouds swirled around the towering cliffs and dozens of elegant waterfalls descended from the clouds. We spent a wondrous day hiking the Emerald Pools trail, poking around the Court of the Patriarchs and lazing along the road admiring the transformation of Zion canyon from dry desert spectacle to an ephemeral Shangri-La of clouds, water and vibrant, color and texture.

Sunrise at ZionThe following morning, two friends and I awoke before dawn, ascended the Angel's Landing trail to the rim and were rewarded with a brilliant sunrise along the snow-covered canyon rim. Orange rock, blue skies and white snow made a brilliant palette for photography. I've been back to Zion several times since then, but none of those trips has left such an indelible impression on me as that rainy November weekend many years ago.