Utah has always been low on my list of places to visit, but still one that I categorized as a “must see” and to be honest, I don’t know that I will really ever return which I will explain why. But first, my reason for visiting was simply to add diversity of terrain to my list of backpacking locations and to be fair, the terrain was amazingly beautiful. Our first two nights in Paria Canyon in south-central Utah was unlike anything I’d hiked before. Mid-December is not necessarily the most ideal time of year to be hiking straight through a river and down a slot canyon, but actually it was quite wonderful to see nobody in the backcountry for two whole days. After our two days in Paria Canyon which is part of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument which feeds into the Grand Canyon, we drove to Zion National Park which was just stunning. I had planned to visit southwest Utah as opposed to central or eastern Utah due to the available access to numerous public lands and not due to the fact that Zion is incredible. In fact, I had never even heard people talk about Zion and how amazing it is. I had seen pictures but really had no clue what was awaiting. As we were driving into the park from the eastern entrance and coming into the canyon view it was breathtaking in the way that Yosemite is when you first come through the tunnel and stop at the Tunnel View overlooking the valley. But then it only gets better as you drive down into Zion Canyon and explore the many canyon trails and of course the infamous Angel’s Landing Trail. Of course I personally turned back very soon after starting the final .5 miles of the trail due to the 2,000 feet of vertical walls on both sides of the trail and my extreme fear of heights, but still, the hike up to that point and going even farther up the west rim trail was just amazing and I could have spent all day at the top of that canyon.
As I stated earlier, however, I will probably not return to the red-rock-Utah for these reasons. I personally enjoy the terrain of the northern deciduous forests and the rocky mountain alpine regions far more, and add to the fact that I now have sand in everything I packed with me are the main reasons I will not return. If you are planning a trip to Utah, please do not be discouraged by my personal discontentment with the region. It is definitely a must-see location and I would strongly encourage you to visit and see it for yourself as of course words cannot due justice to it’s beauty. But you will find my next adventure to the cold north somewhere. That said, here are some shots from this epic trip into the canyons of Paria and Zion.