Shortly after my fourth trip to Arches in November 2016, I got to spend just a fraction of time in Zion once again. The first time I went to Zion I was sufficiently underwhelmed. Like, I don’t think I’ve been that underwhelmed by anything in my entire life. You can read all about those feelings in my first post about Zion. But this time was better!
Peter spent most of Thanksgiving weekend in St. George visiting family from California. I was persuaded to meet up with them with promises of hiking Angel’s Landing and enjoying other red rock, like at Snow Canyon State Park, which may as well be a national park because it’s so fantastic. Sadly, we didn’t get around to Zion while I was visiting, but we did stop at Kolob Canyons, the northwest part of the park. And as it turns out, basically no one goes there!
I don’t necessarily blame people for not going to this part of Zion, though I still think they’re missing out. In some ways it looks just like the rest of Zion (repetitive), but there’s enough that sets it apart that I had a better time. The tranquility you get in the area is a huge advantage along with the ability to really see and enjoy the narrow box canyons.
There are actually only 3 hikes in Kolob Canyons, the longest being 14 miles roundtrip. It’s just important to keep in mind that this area isn’t like the rest of Zion. Most people tend to drive up and down the single road, stopping at some viewpoints, which are still plenty spectacular. Peter and I took our time on the Timber Creek Overlook Trail, which is 1 mile roundtrip. (The panorama above was taken at the end of the trail.) The main thing I remember about the afternoon was how windy it was one moment and how calm and still (and hot) the next. I felt like I was constantly zipping and unzipping my rain coat (which I’d chosen to wear because it makes a great windbreaker).
The times we spend shooting the breeze on trails, going at a snail’s pace, are some of my favorite times. Hiking with me is never all that fast paced (thank you, exercise induced asthma), but on the majority of trips there’s an expectation to get a certain amount done. Peter and I are planners when it comes to choosing hikes. We don’t want to waste any time deliberating at trailheads or poring over maps any more than is necessary. Especially when we’re at a new park or area, we have certain things we want to accomplish. The more often we go somewhere, the less uptight we are about hike selection, though we’ll always choose doing a few specific things at a slower pace rather than cramming as much as possible into the day. But this day, knowing we were only really doing that one thing, allowed us to enjoy the time even more.
So take the time to visit Kolob Canyons. You’re more likely to be alone and get to enjoy the area on your own terms.