If you want to go on a trip, to a magical land of red rock that will fill your soul with so much sensory pleasure that will forever make any other national park lack in comparison, then Zion is your place. I love hiking; end of story. I will seek out any sort of trail when I am exploring a new place. Yet the trails of Zion will forever hold a top role in my heart.. Specifically, Angel’s Landing and The Subway.
First off, an important issue that needs to be addressed is, how is it that Zion isn’t more well-known?? I have had a multitude of friends say that they had never even heard of the park. Not gonna lie, I had never even heard of it before! I traveled to almost every state in America, yet here I was completely dumbfounded while googling pictures of this mysterious “Zion”. We need to do this place a favor and SPREAD THE WORD. Zion is a gift from the gods above. It literally looks like someone sat down and decided to paint the most beautiful, detailed scenery they could possibly imagine.
But first, let me straighten a few things out. Before you arrive at Zion, you need to check (google, call, do whatever) and see which trails require a permit. Yep, that’s right. Some of the trails are so breath-taking, difficult, exotic, and deserve to be seen without a mass group of people surrounding you that you actually need a permit to hike them. The Subway trail that I hiked required one, to which we didn’t find out about until it was too late. LUCKILY, there was a marathon being held the day before we wanted to hike the trail. The receptionist within the park’s Information ceter told us to try our luck, come early in the morning, and hope that two marathoners would be way too exhausted from, ya know, running 26.2 miles, that they wouldn’t want to get up to hike early in the morning. Well obviously, it worked beautifully. But don’t rely on a marathon happening during your stay in Zion. Book those permits in advance!
Now, on to what I came here to tell you about; the trails of Zion.
As for the trails, let’s begin with Angel’s Landing. First off, you don’t need to fret over a permit. This one is free for everyone to hike! Ill warn you now, it’s pretty damn steep. You will be literally CLIMBING your way up to the top. But I promise, the view that awaits you is worth it. It’s a pretty treacherous hike the requires you to NOT BE AN IDIOT and watch your footing. Note: there was a sign at the beginning of the trail warning about how 6 people had died since 2004. They’re not kidding around people.. the fall is long, and the fall is steep.
BUT don’t let that scare you! 😀 There are plenty of people, of all ages, taking on this trail everyday! And once you get to the top, you will feel so accomplished! The view is what makes it all worthwhile. Have you ever seen a painting and thought, “Wow, I wonder where that is?”. Well, the view looked exactly like one of those paintings. I felt an overwhelming rush of calmness overcome me as I stood there looking out into the valley. A neatly places river ran through the middle and the sharp, jagged cliffs looked like someone expertly chiseled them away. There was also a nice, flat area to sit down, enjoy some food, and marvel at the enchanting landscape.
The trail is about 2.4 miles, took us about 4 hours, and is exposed to the sun. I repeat, exposed! Bring sunscreen!
The next day, after waking up super early to try and land those too-tired-because-of-a-marathon permits, we embarked on our next trail in Zion, The Subway. We packed up lots of food, water, sunscreen, a change of clothes, first aid stuff (honestly, you never know), and towels before heading out on this hike. What should we have brought? More water.
There were two options for this trail; “from the top” and “from the bottom”. Since the from the top option required climbing gear and a guide, we opted for the bottom route. You begin by finding your way to the steep decent into the canyon. You have to zigzag your way down the cliff until you reach the bottom. That’s when the fun began. I personally LOVE hiking when the trails aren’t perfect. Climb over huge bolders? Hell yea! Walk through some water? Bring it on! The route takes you through a deep canyon where you have to climb, wade, jump, and, probably, stumble your way up to where the Subway is. It’s a fun hike though. Since the park only allows 80 permits to be given out a day, you wont be seeing many people. You will feel completely alone out there, have a lot of time to think, and just marvel at the red rock cliffs surrounding you.
If this is the point where you’re thinking, “Forget a permit, I’ll do it without one!”, that’s not a smart decision. Halfway through the hike, we came across some rangers who asked to see our permits. So let me make it clear.. You NEED a permit for this trail!
When we finally made it to the subway, it was unlike anything I have seen before. It really did look like somewhere a subway would all the sudden come blazing through. The canyon’s walls did this magical curve up into each other, creating what seemed to almost look like a cave. What’s even better is, when we took off our shoes and went further in, there were deep lagoons that you could get in and walk through. The water came up to our chest and we had to hold our stuff above our heads.. not to mention is was pretty damn cold. But it was incredible. There was even a waterfall all the way in the back of the canyon. Exploring the Subway was definitely an awe-inspiring experience. I loved every second of it. We ended up using up about 8 hours to finish the trail. Complete with food breaks and about an hour exploring and enjoying the actual Subway. But like I said, we definitely didn’t bring enough water. (Not going to lie, we refilled our water bottles from the waterfall :D)
I wish we had more time to explore some of the other trails Zion has to offer. I heard great things about the Narrows and if I ever go back, they’re on the top of my list.
So, have you been to Zion before? Did you trek any of their more advanced trails>