Southwest Loop – Part 2: Zion

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GWPC Staffers Chris & Elena might be back from their month long road trip, but they covered so many miles and saw so much rock! Here’s what happened when they passed through the awe-inspiring canyons of Zion National Park.

After traveling three hours from Monroe, Utah, Elena and I were thrilled to see the massive sandstone canyon walls of Zion on either side of us. We stopped at a shell gas station after a few failed attempts at full campgrounds to buy drinking water, beer, and snacks. The lovely lady behind the counter decided to give us the local Springdale camping beta!

The next town over, Rockville, was a very small town. We turned left onto Grafton and traveled about 3.5 miles to a dirt road on the left. The camping was primitive but nonetheless free. The only downsides are that the sites were limited and when the National Park camping is full, locals flock to the area. There were a ton of ants that decided to parade in our tent as well. If you don’t mind six-legged creatures as your alarm clock, I highly recommend this spot. If you prefer a bit more fancy location at only $10 per tent site with a hot tub, pool, showers, and a restaurant, Zion Ponderossa Ranch Resort off of 9 east and North Fork road is definitely worth the stop.


The following day we headed to the Zion to hike a bit. Parking during the day is scarce so park in Springdale. On the way in we noticed two fairly tall boulders next to the visitor’s center. We decided to hike first and climb later. The first two hikes were The Watchmen followed by the Kayenta Trail to Upper and Lower Emerald pools. Both were easy to moderate and only about two miles each. Angel’s Landing was definitely the highlighted hike which was about 7.5 miles over a 1480 ft. elevation change. Then came the bouldering.

Bouldering in Zion is not only gorgeous but very easy on the hands. Elena hopped on a few highball V0 to V2 problems and finished them no problem. I decided to tackle whatever I could manage to get my hands on. The first boulder had very nice warm up problems (about 10 or so) and two anchor bolts on the front of you weren’t the soloing type. The second boulder had fewer and shorter problems but a bit harder. A few speculated V5 and V6 problems went down after a few tries. All in all, it was a great place to be. If you are an avid trad climber, this is definitely the place for you. From some short top rope and boulder problems, to big wall multi-pitch trad only routes, this sandstone sanctuary will have you begging for more.