Zion and other Trip Advice Please

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by karter18, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. karter18

    karter18 Been here awhile

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    My wife and I are planning a vacation around supporting some friends racing a bicycle race called Lotoja in September. Lotoja is 210 miles and 12,000 ft climbing in one day over three mountain passes. We are running support for the team and planning some days in Zion, Bryce, possibly Escalante, etc. around the trip. We were going to have a bike but unfortunately logistics dictate we take our SUV but at least I will have two wheels on the back with a MTN bike.

    We travel to Zion on labor day weekend - Mon 2nd hike the narrows Early to beat the throngs of people at Zion. Tuesday I wanted to do another hike in Zion but not Angels landing as we will be sick of the number of people by then I'm pretty sure. Other hike suggestions? Observation Point?

    We then head North to Bryce and will ride Thunder Mountain on Wednesday the fourth.

    We have to be in Logan on Thursday night so any suggestions on where to stay in between Bryce and Logan or things to see on the way up?

    On the way back we might detour over to Escalante as it looks like there are some great riding roads through there but we will have the SUV. Any good route to take though there?

    Apologies it's not a moto trip this time but I quite frankly get the best trip advice on this forum.

    Thank You
    #1
  2. tbarstow

    tbarstow Two-wheelin' Fool Super Supporter

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    Zion will be very crowded over Labor day weekend. Go early or at the end of the weekend. Check in to the shuttle times.

    Watch the weather, as it can change very quickly.

    Go MTB at Zion Ponderosa!
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  3. Kenny M.

    Kenny M. Been here awhile Supporter

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    Zion's Hidden Canyon is a great hike. Not to long or hard but exhilarating. Trams run every fifteen minutes and stop at all the main trail heads up canyon and down canyon.
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  4. Chillis

    Chillis Long timer Supporter

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    The trail to observation point has been closed for a while. Same with Hidden Canyon due to erosion.

    Hopefully they are open again soon.

    If you take the route to Kolob Reservoir there are a bunch of awesome hikes up top of the west side of Zion that you can do. Won't find crowds there either.

    I was in the narrows a few weeks ago and there were so many people and so much trash. Truly sad to see such beauty being destroyed by infestation.

    I think it is called the Burr Trail out of Escalate. There is also Hell's Backbone.
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  5. dino702

    dino702 OFF2BFE

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    I was at Kolob a few weeks ago and it was very crowded on the weekend. Weekdays would be better.
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  6. Bullseye

    Bullseye Mr. Bad Example Supporter

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    Zion hiking is a little limited (in the canyon proper) and hard to get away from crowds.
    Bryce - Thunder Mountain is a good call.
    Escalante Area - Lot's to explore in the SUV.
    • Out on Hole-in-the-Rock Road.. There are some non-technical slots to explore (Spooky and Peek-a-boo) as well as a few attractions like Devil's Garden. Might be hot out there.
    • Burr Trail out of Boulder would be an easy drive in the SUV. It is paved for quite a while, but turns to a well graded, nice gravel road before the switch-backs down to Notom-Bullfrog Road. Lot's of nice hiking along the way, side canyons to explore, etc.
    • If you want to get really adventurous... you could take Old Escalante Road (FH17 - just West of Escalante on 12) all the way up the mountain to 'Barney Top' in the SUV (usually a well graded nice gravel road). Park on the ridge there and then ride the MTB South along the ridge on FR132 all the way out to Powell Point (~8 miles each way?). The ridge trail is through Aspen forest. Powell Point (37.6869242, -111.9021792) has incredible expansive view looking South out over Bryce and Southern Utah from 10,000'. Technically, you could drive the SUV out there, but there can be brief but deep mud-holes and a couple of 'interesting, exposed' climbs long the way. If you have 4x4, decent ground clearance and skills, it would be easy. After hiking out to Powell Point, you can continue driving West dropping down FH17 or FR132 (past Pine Lake) into John's Valley and the South out to 12.
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  7. karter18

    karter18 Been here awhile

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    Thanks bullseye! Great info!
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  8. AloneInTheHills

    AloneInTheHills Been here awhile

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    +1 for the area of Kolob Reservoir Rd, worth it just for the drive but I believe there are several trailheads with great views.

    Near Bryce the area of King's Creek campground is nice. It's about 8 miles of graded dirt to get out there so it's less crowded and loaded with dirt roads and ATV/Snow mobile trails.
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  9. oldoval

    oldoval Energy Vampire

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    I think the Thunder Mountain trail is over rated. It wasn't originally designed as a mountain bike trail so it has no flow. It also gets lots of horse traffic so the surface is rough. For MTB trails I'd look at the ones in the mountains above Cedar City or near Hurricane.


    Utahmountainbiking.com has the most comprehensive list of trails.

    .
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  10. Bullseye

    Bullseye Mr. Bad Example Supporter

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    Lotoja is an epic. I have some friends heading up there as well.

    An easy quick ride near Zion would be to park at Lower Jem Trailhead (just South of Hwy 9 on Sheep Bridge Road), then ride up the JEM Trail along the rim of the gorge. You can go as far as you please by tying into Hurricane Rim, Cryptobionic, Dead Ringer, More Cowbell, etc. etc.
    My wife and I often use this ride as a chance to get out of the car and get a little exercise on our way further North.
    If you have more time, Gooseberry Mesa has some fun stuff... but that requires a little more time to drive up on the Mesa.

    As an alternative to Thunder Mountain, I hesitantly suggest Casto Canyon on the North side of Hwy 12. Trail-head is accessed off "Dump Road" just East of Hwy 89.
    This used to be a great little remote canyon for riding. Follows a dry stream through the canyon with Zion-like rock formations. Recently, it has become popular with ATV Tour/Rental groups... thus the 'hesitation' to suggest... but you may be fine, especially early or late in the day. If you go, you can loop it, but probably best as an out and back.

    As for alternative hikes in Zion... one area that I have always wanted to explore and never have... Parunuweap Canyon. A lesser known area, but there is some really nice stuff there. It's basically the Eastern fork of the Virgin River. There's a trail from the Checkerboard Mesa area. You would be hiking due South over and down into Parunuweap. Do your research, it's probably a tough hike. Nothing good comes easy in Zion!
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  11. karter18

    karter18 Been here awhile

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    Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far.

    Great suggestions as I am familiar with Jem and the Hurricane area as coming home last year on the last day of my trip the person at the Zion Info desk recommended I call Over the Edge bike shop for local trails. Good call as I rode much of Jem, More cowbell twice, and Dead Ringer in one day as I parked at the upper trail head so I refueled back at the car a couple of times and kept riding. My wife is a hiker and I MTN bike as much as I can but I definitely want her to see these trails as the views from More cowbell were pretty awesome.
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  12. TFC

    TFC Been here awhile

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    Another suggestion is to hike late in the day too. I took my boys up Angels Landing several weeks ago. I was concerned about crowding and the heat (forecast was for upper 90s highs). We didn’t get off the bus until just after 4:30pm and it was great. Hike had a tone of shade due to the time of the day, and the crowds were already gone. Sure, there were folks on the trail, but it wasn’t bad at all - especially compared to what I experienced the last time when I went first thing in the morning.

    Good luck!
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  13. karter18

    karter18 Been here awhile

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    TFC thanks for the suggestion. Might try a morning hike with the throngs of people at the narrows but I assume it will thin out over each mile we go back. Maybe go back grab lunch and then do another hike late in the pm as you suggest, Great Idea thanks.
    #13