Coming back home this summer has been great. It’s been one of the most enjoyable times that I have ever had visiting home. It had been a year and a half so as every friend said, “not much has changed”, in my mind it really had. Most are engaged, have kids, are buying their second home, or are moving away. Also, my girlfriend decided to come visit this place that I always said was one of the best places to travel in the world. I still stand by this.
Starting the day before my birthday we decided to go on a bit of an adventure around Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. Visiting a few places that I have hiking or seeing since I was a kid and a bunch that I haven’t. Our first day was spent driving from Phoenix to Oak Creek Canyon, just north of Sedona. This trip had to be set up to hit a lot of spots in a week, so there was a lot of long driving during the morning and hiking all afternoon. So, we set up camp at the Cave Spring Campsite mid morning and had our first hike of the trip on West Fork Trail. A hike that was highly recommended to me by a fellow adventurer and it did not disappoint. Six miles round trip with little elevation gain. Through the trees that surrounded the creek that included thirteen crossing in Oak Creek. What was really interesting about this hike was the very first crossing and the very last that included rock formations that were mirror images and seemed as if they were little siblings to the famous “Subway” in the Narrows of Zion National Park.
After, we took a drive into downtown Sedona, including Oak Creek Brewery and decided to hike Devil’s Bridge in what turned out to be a night hike on the way down.
The next morning we drove up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The only portion that I’m familiar with, but I have not been to the area in a few years. Most of the time spent driving along the scenic routes and stopping for photos.
The next day was our most rushed day of the trip. A morning drive along the South Rim to Page, Arizona to see Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Antelope Canyon ended up being an over hour wait in the heat before there was a free tour. Having done the tour before I didn’t think it was worth it. Horseshoe Bend ended up being terribly crowded, but a short hike to the south lead to a noise and selfie free area to enjoy the site.
Our final stop on this day was Zion National Park. One of the most awe inspiring drives through a national park that I have ever experienced. We were unable to secure a campsite in the park, however Springdale is a small town just south of the park with access to free buses to all trailheads.
Zion Campground in Springdale, Utah
Before sundown we were able to fit in one of the highest rate hikes in America and I would say that it is totally justified. From pavement to dirt, to dozens of switchbacks under overhangs. Finally leading to a false summit that is the beginning of the last quarter mile of the hike along ridge line with support chains to keep hikers safe from the thousand foot drops off to both sides. The peak did not disappoint.
The last quarter mile
The panoramic view of the Narrows all the way down to Springdale.
The following day was all Zion. We woke up early and got to the Narrows to hike the bottom up before the crowds. Even the dirt track towards the beginning of the hike was beautiful. The minute you hit the first ‘crossing’ you’re in the water nearly the whole time. Our hike was a total of 6 hours. The Narrows includes bend after bend of amazing views and gets as narrow as twenty-two feet. I had no idea how far we had actually hiked into the narrows before a side canyon opens up. Giving the narrows it’s name, it’s an area that most people don’t seem to walk down.
Approaching The Narrows
Beautiful Sunrise Reflection in the First Section of The Narrows
As Narrow as it gets
Finishing up at The Narrows we still had some energy left and decided to hike the Emerald Pools. I didn’t find the hike to be as enjoyable as there the was posted that there was no swimming in the pools and each of the three pools had people swimming in it.
Our last outdoor day of the trip was spent up at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. An area of the canyon that is almost vacant of tourist outside of the lodge or the two campsites within driving distance of the rim. We stayed at the Demotte Campground which seems to be more remote compared to the lodge and North Rim Campground. Our day involved a hike down the North Kaibab Trail and a sunset along the North Rim. The argument is always that the North Rim has the best views. I would say that it’s true simply because it’s not as popular. You can sit at any viewpoint and watch the summer sunset with no one else around.
How does this birthday adventure match up with the others? It’s impossible to judge, but it sure was a great adventure.
- Other birthday adventures