The perfect weekend has finally arrived. The cold Northern Utah winter is finally over and my body aches to get outside and enjoy springtime in Utah. It is once again time to conquer the West Rim Trail.
The waking sun cracks through the majestic rocks towering above as we drive through the backside of Zion National Park towards Kolob Reservoir. As far as I’m concerned, we have entered paradise. Although seldom visited by the throngs of visitors each year, this area of the park holds some of the most magnificent rock formations. The white and red sandstone formations paint a picture that not only captures the eye, but the heart as well.
We arrive at the trail-head shortly after first light and stop and listen to the sounds of solitude. There are no sounds from cars, no cell phones ringing--just the sounds of birds singing the songs of early season escape overhead. As we begin the move down the trail I feel at home. This is where I belong.
I grew up in Southern Utah and Zion National Park was my backyard. As a child I would visit Zion as often as the opportunity arose. I would conquer Emerald Pools, Weeping rock, and anything else I my mom allowed at such a young age. Always thirsty for more, I loved the adventure, and I felt proud when I could say I got to the top.
Over the years the hikes have gotten harder and longer, the reward sweeter. No longer pushing to the end, now it is the journey I love.John Burroughs, an American Author and naturalist, said “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” Spending time in the outdoors rejuvenates my soul. Freed of worldly things, I can refocus my life, and spend time finding answers to life questions free of distractions.
Starting high above the canyons below I gaze outward at the great expanse. I can see canyons, broad and full of natural growth as well as stark, red slot canyons, needing to be chimneyed. I dream of exploring them all, by whatever hiking method necessary. I wonder how many people have set foot in these side canyons? If I venture down will I be one of the first?
I continue on the trail past soaring ponderosas, guiding my gaze directly to the heavens above. Looking downward, I focus attention on wild flowers starting to bloom, the vibrant pinks and yellows popping on the desert floor below.
Hiking with my friends like this brings us together. Our connection grows deeper, more intimate. That’s what happens when we discover unique beauty that appears only once in a lifetime. The canyon is never the same and neither are we.
As we wander through the meadows and reach Potato Hollow we are almost half way through the hike. We have passed breathtaking view points and the best is yet to come. We are about to enter some of the most magical parts of the park. Everywhere we look are amazing geologic formations. The Great West Canyon, Greatheart Mesa, and the Incline Temple are just a few of the spots we can see before we enter the Slick Rock playground and finish at Angels Landing.
The West Rim inspires all. I venture to say that there are few places in the world that would offer greater diversity or uniqueness in 16 miles. I will see you there on my next trip!
Where: The West Rim trail is a 16-mile point-to-point trail departing near Lava Point and ending in Zion canyon on the Grotto trail. A car shuttle is necessary to return to Lava Point. To access the trail, turn off Highway 9 onto the Kolob Terrace Road in the town of Virgin. Near the Blue Springs Reservoir, turn onto Lava Point Road. The trailhead is roughly ½ mile southeast from the Lava Point overlook. The trail can be snowpacked in the early season. During the summer months, expect lots of sun and prepare accordingly. Check at the Zion Ranger station for trail information prior to embarking on this long and strenuous hike.
Zion National Park Website: Trail Description and backpacking guide.
Joe’s Guide To Zion National Park: Detailed trail description with alternate routes.
Author Bio: Michael Sproul currently lives in Utah. He is an avid traveler and outdoor enthusiast. He loves sharing his experiences with others. He currently writes for The Carefree Traveler and My Life Outdoors. Connect with him on Google Plus or Twitter.