Field Notes: Hiking Bryce & Zion National Parks

Posted: Wednesday, December 6, 2023

In the post-trip letter below, travelers relive cherished memories from Hiking Bryce and Zion National Parks in October 2023. Through their recap, we gain a deeper appreciation for the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of Utah National Parks.


Snow Canyon State Park

After a long day of travel, we had an easygoing breakfast in St. George before driving to our first hiking destination: Snow Canyon State Park! We traversed over petrified dunes, slick rock, loose sand, and packed gravel on our tour du force of this incredible Red Cliffs Desert wilderness preserve area. Several participants explored an ancient lava tube, scrambling up and over ʻaʻā lava (sharp, rough lava) and peeking into the mysterious depths of the cave. Other hikers tried trekking poles for the first time, putting them to good use while powering through the remnants of a prehistoric sea. We learned about various plants and animals and thankfully didn’t see much in the way of snakes!

Our path took us on several trails, giving us different views of the Navajo sandstone in all its glorious hues. AGC Guide Haley taught us about moqui balls while we rested on the petrified dunes and enjoyed the expansive views. Once our masculine and feminine energies felt more balanced, we continued on to the first of many delicious picnic lunches! 

Zion National Park

After a requisite coffee fill-up, we powered on to Zion National Park, where we checked right into our rooms and had some downtime before dinner. The truest beauty of any AGC trip is not the mountain landscape but the connections that happen between travelers. At this particular dinner, hilarious stories were told for all to hear, and I laughed so hard that my belly ached. What a treat to be with such a funny group!

The next morning dawned cold and crisp in the canyon, and we boarded the shuttle to Watchman trail under a crepuscular sky. We had the area mostly to ourselves as we strolled up and around the loop and enjoyed views of Watchman Mountain in the distance. 

In the afternoon, we marched up “Walter’s Wiggles” to the ever-popular Scout’s Lookout. Two Julies dared Angel’s Landing while others hiked out on the West Rim trail for a postcard-worthy vantage point of the intrepid hikers on Angel’s Landing.

Everyone made it back down safely, albeit with sore thighs and a renewed appreciation for trekking poles! That night, we found extra space in our stomachs to accommodate the large portions of tasty Mexican food from Oscar’s in Springdale. 

On our final morning in Zion, two hikers and Haley explored the Emerald Pools trail while the rest of us reveled in the bravery of early morning Narrows hikers in the Virgin River.

We zipped up our puffy coats, warmed by the schadenfreude of their freezing toes, and wandered peacefully back down to the shuttle stop. A short detour brought us to the Weeping Rock, where we marveled at the icicles clinging to the metal chains and the steady curtain of drips. 

Bryce Canyon National Park

Hoodoo you love? The group split up between the Queen’s Garden and the Peekaboo Loop. Everyone enjoyed the towering spires carved of wind and frost weathering as we descended into the canyon. While the Queen’s Garden was a lovely, straightforward hike, the Peekaboo hikers took an unexpected detour to the Wall Street trail.

We then rallied on, walking up and around the steep lollipop loop with a well-deserved lunch break in the only spot with sunshine, the (empty) horse corral! Our last dinner was at the delightful Spotted Dog restaurant where it was hard to pick who had the best meal. 

Thank you, everyone, for such a fun and active trip!

Happy Trails, Haley & Julie

After each AGC trip, our guides send a post-trip letter to travelers highlighting the most memorable moments of their journey together. These letters serve as a heartfelt expression of appreciation for our travelers' patronage and as an opportunity to reflect on the experiences shared during the trip. We've found these letters to be an excellent way to stay connected and to keep the memories of our travels alive long after we return home.

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