Last summer I went on my first true road trip around the great American West hitting several national parks with a couple buddies of mine. As amazing as that experience was, little did I know that I would have the privilege to go on another, yet even more adventurous, trip this summer! This summer's adventure was geared toward exploring the great desert lands of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah with my buddies Robbie and Jesse. Like last summer, our flight landing had us down in Las Vegas again, however this year we started our travels northeastward. Our overall route was to circle the entire Grand Canyon while visiting as many unbelievable places surrounding as we could before we looped back to Vegas. Stay tuned as you'll get to read about in these amazing places we travelled to and see my photos in these next series of blog entries!
CLICK HERE to order prints of my Zion National Park photos
After a short day (and long night) in Las Vegas consisted of visiting the Pawn Stars Shop (didn't see the guys), Red Rocks Canyon, walking the strip, riding the worlds largest ferris wheel "High Roller", and watching the Bellagio Fountains, we started our road trip early the next morning at 7:00 AM. Our first destination was Utah's first ever National Park - Zion. The gorgeous 2 1/2 hour drive (150 miles) took us through the Vegas mountains, briefly through Arizona, then barely entering the border of Utah.
Zion National Park, to me and Robbie, basically reminded us of a second Yosemite National Park visit, except with red rocks. This extraordinary place had you surrounded by towering sandstone cliffs high above you in the valley. It definitely made you feel small and appreciative of the One who created it (which "Zion" means a place of peace and refuge). We had the privilege of staying in Zion Lodge, a National Historic Register lodge, right beneath the towering cliffs.
Beside enjoying the pure beauty of it all, our main adventure planned out in Zion was for us to hike The Narrows. So, the Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge 16 miles long, up to 2000 feet deep, and 20 to 30 feet wide in some places, in the upper part of Zion Canyon. This provided us with a hike that we will likely never forget! After renting quality, waterproof and durable hiking shoes and socks, we headed off with our hiking poles to begin our epic hike through the Narrows. We were only about to hike and explore into the canyon about 2 miles (all wading through water), but every view was definitely worth the trip. We wished we could have gone further, but unfortunately we had to have our equipment back by 7 PM.
This was certainly one of the most unique hikes I've ever done. There were plenty of photo opportunities, but the only draw back was we were there during a harsh time of light. I was still able to get some great shots to show you perspective and the great time we had! Enjoy our hike through the Narrows, but first see Zion Lodge and some views leading up to the beginning of the hike!
After doing some research on Zion, I wanted to find a perfect sunset location. I ended up deciding on the scene of The Watchman rock mountain with the Virgin River flowing toward it. Below are the views from our first of many epic sunsets while on our Desert Road Trip!
The next morning we woke up early to head out of Zion to start driving toward Page, Arizona (our next destination). But of course, we had things planned before we leave this beautiful National Park.
First stop was to see the Court of the Patriarchs (the first pictures below). These three famous Zion peaks get their names from the Bible as well and are named Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Two other peaks easily scene from this vista are The Sentinel and Mount Moroni.
Next, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive beautifully takes you out of the canyon, up the mountains and into one of the nation's largest mountain tunnels. After grabbing some pictures of the early morning sunlight and after coming through the tunnel, we made our way to the first trailhead parking area to hike the Canyon Overlook Trail. This short but steep hike takes you to one of the most beautiful overlooks above all of Zion National Park. I hope you enjoy the views!
P.S. - the last pictures are of some awesome Beehive rock formation and the last is Checkerboard Mesa!
Stay tuned of my next blog post about our next designation on our Desert Road Trip! Just like we kept saying on the trip, each day gets even more epic! As a matter of fact, my favorite photography location during the whole trip is coming up on my next post!
Until then, God Bless!