There's this 12 mile stretch on Utah-9 that traverses through land before time. Behind every hairpin turn you're more likely to see a dinosaur than an unimpressed first time visitor.
I made this drive after Bryce Canyon, admittedly not expecting more than I've seen to this point in my travels across the U.S. What I saw blew away my expectations.
I had to stay. But passing through on a Saturday night, both campgrounds were understandably marked as full. Naturally, the word allegedly crossed my mind so I asked for a spot and the kind volunteer running the south campground pointed me to where I could lay claim to for a couple nights.
I set up camp next to a welcoming couple from Oregon, their daughter and son in law who live in Phoenix with their newborn daughter, also in Zion for the first time like me. Sunday night with these folks, and the other couple passing through, also coincidentally from Oregon, was great fun. I had my first bonfire of the trip thanks to them and also learned a new marshmallow trick I'll be taking with me, roasted marshmallows dipped in Baileys.
On my way into town on Sunday night, I not only got firewood, but also picked up my first six pack of Utah beer. Which is the first of two (2) six packs dedicated to Bill Johngrass. The interesting catch with Utah beer is its legally limited to 4% alcohol. So whether you like your IPAs, Porters, or Budweisers, in Utah, the buck stops at 4%.
On Sunday morning I really dialed in to a captivating experience. Angel's Landing is a well known peak above the valley of Zion. The ridgeline leading to the summit is narrow, steep, and deadly, causing 6 fatalities since 2004 (according to the warning sign). I hiked to the summit, off an on, up and down, with an Ohioan named John from Dayton.
Without a doubt this was one of the coolest experiences of my adult life.
After John and I tackled Angel's Landing, we went up to Hidden Canyon where we would eventually part ways after hiking a couple miles in. Hidden Canyon for me was a lot like climbing a tree a little bit higher than you should. I kept trekking past trails end with a couple guys from St. George, Utah (Jayden and Chris). We definitely crossed some obstacles that are not for your typical tourist, and when it's all said and done, I hope they made it home safely because they kept going further than I had the stomach to.
I can't capture Zion in a couple sentences or 100 pictures so I'll just ask you to visit. So please, if you haven't been here, come, and I'll buy you a beer.