Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hikers Glimpse Heaven On Earth

The Miami Herald has three great articles about hiking our red rock country. Below are headlines and excerpts.

Zion National Park offers hikers a glimpse of heaven

''It's gorgeous. It's spectacular,'' Dave (Ford) said. ``I used to be a tour bus driver herding people through the Canadian Rockies. We used to show off things (we described) as spectacular, and they were nothing like this. These sandstone cliffs are spectacular.''

Zion is one of the nation's most-visited parks -- 2.6 million people arrived in 2006 -- but on the trails it feels much less crowded. Hit the snack shop at Zion Lodge in midafternoon and the line stretches out the door. But on the winding trail that climbs past Weeping Rock you may find yourself looking for company.

Isolation a welcome companion at Capitol Reef National Park

The payoff at the top of Chimney's 600-foot climb is sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding honey-gold, rust-brushed, varnish-dripping cliffs, domes and other rock formations that stretch for Capitol Reef's official 75 miles along Utah's Waterpocket Fold. The Fold is a monocline (a step-like fold in rock) that looks for all the world like a gigantic, gorgeous mistake, a crack with a dip and an upthrust of angry earth.

But without the Waterpocket Fold, there would be no Capitol Reef, which sits 220 miles southeast of Salt Lake City and 150 miles east of St. George. The park's name came from two unrelated visuals: The domes and cliffs made of chalky-white Navajo sandstone that line parts of the fold are reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol, and the park's impermeable ridges running perpendicular to the roads reminded early visitors of ocean reefs.

Hiking the Grand Canyon: No walk in the park

As we neared the Colorado River, the distance between us lengthened, with my wife taking up the rear 15 yards behind me. ''Save yourself,'' Janet wheezed. ''Somebody will find me later.'' A group of 20-somethings who'd sauntered smugly by hours earlier at Indian Garden, an oasis of cottonwood trees, picnic tables, running water and toilets, passed us on their way BACK to the South Rim. They looked absolutely miserable.

We were just sort of miserable, knowing full well that in a matter of minutes we'd be at Phantom Ranch, where we could pry off our hiking shoes for two days and relax. Sleep. Drink beer. Mingle with other hikers. Splash in Bright Angel Creek. Exult in our triumph and plot our trek to the North Rim.

Although more than 4.5 million people visit the Grand Canyon annually, fewer than 1 percent see the canyon from the ground up. Even fewer make it rim to rim, and it's easy to see why.

It's hard.

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