Zion National Park – Watchman Trail – An Underrated Classic Hike

One of my first hikes as Zion was on Watchman trial, a very classic hike but quite underrated compared to others.  We started the hike around 10AM and was probably one of the more animal filled hikes I had in Zion probably because there was a lot less humans around.  Best part? The hike is only 2 miles and can be completed in an hour – two depending on how much time you take for photos and snacks.

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The hike starts probably about 5-10 minute walk from Watchman Campsite and an even shorter walk from the visitor center

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Within a 10 minute walk you get an amazing view!

Watchman 4 And a new friend, a mule deer
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Lots and lots of lizards

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And a crawly snack for the lizard

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After about a 456 foot ascent, you’re pretty much as the top with this amazing view at 4419 ft.

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One warning, it gets pretty hot since most of the hike is exposed.  Wear sunblock because even in Mid April, within 30 minutes this kid’s neck was fried.

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More lizard friends.  I can tell you after a week of hiking I was a lizard and squirrel expert photographer.

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And Cacti!! Loved how within an hour I previewed all the parts of Zion that I would hike through the rest of the week.

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Another amazing view photo of the Zion Canyons

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The top has a great picnic/resting area to relax and enjoy before making the descent   We heard that 5 minutes before we got there, there was a horned sheep citing but sadly we did not see it.  Overall great hike for the 90 minutes of time!

Hiking the Narrows – Zion National Park

The narrows refers to an area where the Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon: 16 miles long, up to 2,000-feet deep, and at times only 20 to 30-feet wide. However, hiking The Narrows means hiking in the Virgin River. At least 60 percent of the hike is spent wading, walking, and sometimes swimming in the river. You are literally chest deep into water on a good day.  There is no maintained trail because the route is the river. The current is swift, the water is cold, and the rocks underfoot are slippery.

When we did the hike, the current was described at “moderate” and water was a bone chilling 40 degrees Fahrenheit   A permit is required for the 16-mile top-down hike through The Narrows. A permit is not required for hiking The Narrows from the bottom up.  I’m not even sure if the top-down hike was open when we were visiting in April, so instead we ventured bottom-up approach.

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Before we could start the hike, I knew we had to get equipment.  I knew that after almost freezing in tropical water, I needed a dry-suit for this hike.  I woke up the boys and of we went to Zion Adventure.   This styling little number costs about $52 a day to rent and comes with your very own walking stick, boots and neoprene socks.

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While the water was only 40 degrees, the air temperature climbed up to 70, so needless to say things got a little warm in there.  And if you’re wondering if that walking stick is really necessary? I can tell you yes, yes it is.  I fell right from the start even with the stupid stick.

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When you get off the shuttle, the hike starts with a one mile paved walked before you hit the water.  I continued my squirrel photography and if you want to get really strange looks, walk by a bunch of people chilling in a dry-suit.  I think someone at one point burst out laughing at us.

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Within a few minutes of walking, we were waist deep in water.  Sadly, those times were not captured since I value my camera and am currently accepting all donations for a waterproof case.

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We rented a drysack thing to hold my camera and phone but we quickly found out it was not waterpoof.  Poor Tony held it and worked very hard not to fall while the rest of our group would drop like flies on a random rock.

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Every time we hit a sandy beach, the boys would decide it was time for a break

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In about a mile and a half we reached a forkroad.  We could walk down Wall Street or the other (I forgot the name).

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We started with the other, which was more shallow and had more plant life.  We then made our way back.

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What the other lacked in water, it made up with some serious rock climbing.  Although part of me thinks we just hiked past the designated trail.  Things got way too hard, way too fast.

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Wall Street kinda of resembled this only the water was chest deep.  Since you’re walking against the stream, you are using your stick as a third leg to push you forward.  Very draining and snacking had to occur often to refuel.

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Needless to say, coming back was easier.  You see the drysuits get filled with air and turn you into a floatable device.  You can basically relax and float your way back down.  Except poor Tony, because he had to hold up my camera from the water.  He doesn’t look like he minded at all, plus he was a champ at this.

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And how do you reward yourself after a treacherous battle with water? You don’t share your ice cream! Bwahaha.