During our Western USA roadtrip in 2022 we explored Utah.
Come back soon to read all about it!
Angels Landing is world famous. You will always see it listed in world’s most dangerous hikes. Plenty of people died during this strenous hike. Mostly because they are impatient when the track gets too crowed. We doubted whether to do this hike, as Marie-Claire has fear of hights and research on the internet didn’t make us much wizer. But, as we already did some crazy hikes, and survived them, we decided to give it a try and see how far we could get.
Since a couple of years the number of daily participants has been limited to 800 and you need to enter a raffle in order to gain a ticket in one of the 3 slots. We were lucky to get tickets for the slot 09 am – 12 am. It means you need to start within that slot. We started hiking around 10:30. We crossed two check points where we had to show our hiking permit. Although everybody is free to hike up to Scout Lookout. The hike is quite heavy and there are many steep parts. Even if you were unable to get a ticket from the lottery, it’s worth hiking till Scout Lookout. From there on it really starts. The path gets narrow, the drops increase to hundreds of meters at both sides, but luckily there are chains at the most difficult and dangerous parts. You do need to pay attention for people in the opposite direction. After the first part, at the feet of the steep and final part, a lot of people decide to stop. If you are feeling not safely, please do so. Marie-Claire was about to stop, and I would go alone, but then she found an extra portion of courage and joined me. We took our time and it went well. The last part is difficult and steep, it feels like it never end and all people coming down keep on saying it’s only 5 minutes to the top. Most of them are lying! Just keep going and like mostly, suddenly you reach the top. The views are insane, but please be careful and pay attention to the wind! We decided to eat our lunch at enjoy the views.
Conclusion? If you are healthy and sporty, take it easy and don’t rush, you should to fine just like we did. Also make sure to take advantage of the chains.
Zion National Park
Sky high expectations we had from Zion National Park, as all people were talking about how great this National Park was. During peak season you can’t explore the park with your own car, but you have to park and take a shuttle bus that rides up and down the park with 8 or 9 stops along the ride. It feels a bit like an amusement park when you enter. When the parking lot is full, you have to park outside the park, in the village, where you easily pay 20$ for a day ticket.
The most famous thing to do in Zion National Park is Angels landing, see above. We also explored the Emeralds Pool hike. To be honest, without Angels Landing, I’m not convinced that this park is so exceptional as most people seem to say. Crowded, the shuttle busses, … made it feel a bit too much hyped. In my opinion there are better parks to spend your time.
We did learn a very important lesson about navigation. You should always use the visitor centre as address, and not just the name of the park, even if it’s the first pick in Google Maps or Waze. We did ended up in the National Park, but we used some kind of back entrance which
Arches National Park
Devils Garden Trail
Bryce Canyon National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is known for its dramatic dessert landscape carved by the Colorado River. Not far from the entrance you have the Shafer Canyon Overlook. The view is awesome and you can see the twisting road where the jeeps go down to explore The Maze. That area is very difficult to access and you must go with at least 2 different 4×4 cars to be able to help eachother. Obviously we skipped this part with our van.
Mesa Arch can be reached via a very short hike from the parking lot. The view through Mesa Arch is impressive. There was a real queue to take some pictures. Luckily it moved quickly and you can always take some pictures while people go away and get back.
You can continue till Grand View Point where you can continue by foot and walk along the rim.
Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park is located between Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park which offers a dramatic overlook of the Colorado River. It should however not be mixed with Horseshoe bend in Arizona.
Both feature a meander and it’s also the only thing both parks have to offer. Luckily you can use the annual park pass to avoid paying entrance. Which is convenient because you don’t see the full meander in Dead Horse Point from the viewpoint. Which was a bit of a disapointment. A guided walk indicates that there is another view point where you can see the meander better, however, you can save yourself the effort. We followed the path, and you don’t manage to fully see the meander. In fact, when you don’t have too much time, you can easily fully skip this State Park.
I would strongly recommend to spend a few moments at the Horseshoe Bend instead, where you really can see the meander from a perfect spot.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is less known but easily reachable when you move between Arches NP and Bryce Canyon NP. You can cross the National Park via Highway 24 and when heading in the direction of Bryce Canyon, make sure to take the Highway 12. You have several pullouts with great viewpoints and the landscape changes constantly. Certainly around Escalante it looks very impressive.
You also have the Scenic Drive which is a 12.7 km out-and-back paved road but it seems to be worth visiting. When weather allows you can even do that by regular car. As we wanted to still visit Bryce Canyon we skipped this one, as our motto is “you need to leave something for the next time”.
Grand Wash (Strava track)
The grand wash hike can be started from two sides, from the Scenic Drive or from highway 24. We started it from the lather to visit the Narrows, which is normally a 2.2 miles (3.6 km) one way hike. As you can keep on hiking, towards the Scenic Drive, we passed this point and our total hike was 8.6 km instead of 7 km. We saw the exit for the Cassidy Arch but we already saw plenty of them in Arches NP, we skipped it and returned to the car. Images on Google show it might still be worth the hike if you want to spent the time.
Hickman Bridge (Strava track)
Between the Grand Wash hike and the visitor centre you can find another short hike to the Hickman Bridge. Although there is a loop at the end, this is mostly an out-and-back hike of around 3.2 km. You can hike under the Hickman Bridge during the loop. It took us roughly 45 minutes but we can recommend this short walk.