Posts Tagged ‘zion park hiking’

Observation Point – Utah’s Best View!

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Many experts claim that Utah’s best scenic view is Observation Point at Zion National Park.  This overlook stands you on the edge of a 2,200 foot precipice and offers a view across a major portion of the main canyon within Zion National Park, and far into the distance beyond the park boundaries.  Zion National Park is 30 miles in length and 15 miles across at its widest point, and Observation Point, at an elevation of 6,521′ is likely the best place to capture the grandeur of this vast expanse.

Observation Point at Zion

A view from Observation Point at Zion National Park

Most visitors to Observation Point at Zion endure a challenging four mile climb and 2,148′ ascent, from the Weeping Rock area in the bottom of the canyon, but there is a better way.

Observation Point Hiking Trail

Walking the forest trail to Observation Point from Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

From Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort’s property there is a park boundary trail-head that follows a more gentle rolling course across the Zion National Park plateau and through the forest to Observation Point.  This 3.5 mile walk (each direction) winds through the forest bending slightly northwest and then back to the southwest toward the overlook.  Approximately two miles into the hike, you’ll encounter views into a side canyon that are quite spectacular, but only serve to whet the appetite for what lies ahead.

Zion National Park Canyon

Viewing the canyon on the west, just before arriving at Observation Point.

In the last half of a mile, the course descends south to the canyon rim and then bends west before turning south again toward Observation Point at Zion.   In the last 200 yards you’ll ride the edge of the rim and encounter views into the back of the main canyon toward the Narrows, but the real view then opens up at Observation Point as you exit the forest of scrub oak, pines, and high desert foliage.

Observation Point at Zion National Park

A view over the rim at Observation Point

Sandstone layers of white, grey, ochre, and various hues of red color the striations that break out before your view.  To the left the canyon sweeps open in horseshoe fashion.  To the south the Virgin River winds through the fins and buttresses that have been eroded over eons.   To your right the main canyon cycles north and toward the narrows section of Zion Park.

Observation Point Viewers

A couple from Canada sits on the rim taking in the views at Observation Point

Plan to spend some time on the rim just soaking in all the views, and unlike others that you may encounter, enjoy the fact that you didn’t have to hike from the valley to Observation Point.

Observation Point - Best View in Utah

A young woman enjoys the solitude of this majestic vista at Observation Point.

The length of this hike from Zion Ponderosa is approximately one hour and fifteen minutes (each direction) for adults moving at a reasonable hiking pace.  Adjust your expected time based on the ability of those in your hiking group.

Zion National Park

A hiker rests on the rim to take photographs at Observation Point.

Groups are limited to sizes of no more than 12 people on trails such as this within Zion National Park.  Bring water, snacks, and appropriate other hiking supplies, and don’t forget your still and  video cameras.  Early morning is a good time to start on this hike so you can enjoy the softer light on the formations when photography is also best.  Learn more about Zion National Park.

Summer in Zion

Monday, May 30th, 2011
Zion Park Cactus - Flora

Cactus in the Zion Park area

The rain has finally rolled away and left a freshly cleaned plateau behind. Here, above Zion National Park, the grass is bright green and the Ponderosa Pines brace against the wind that pushed the clouds away. Even that wind, warm and rich with the smell of summer, is now calming to a gentle breeze as it settles in for the hot, dry months ahead.

Summer in Zion reveals a world of beauty and adventure. Driving through the park, I saw blooming cacti and grazing bighorn sheep. Even as the streams dry up, the local wildlife is easily visible. Just yesterday I saw a big wild turkey strutting coolly across the road up near our vacation homes. These moments of connection with nature are a cherished memory anyone can make here at Zion Ponderosa. Even the least adventurous guests will feel closer to nature as they wander the paths of the ranch and soak up the summer.

The ranch is perfectly positioned to get the very best of Zion’s summer. From our high elevation, guests can walk into the park through several backcountry trails. Right now, the path from Jolly’s Gulch down to Canyon Overlook is marked by a stream. At one point, you can look out from the top of a waterfall. Later in the summer, the water dries up and leaves a stunning cliff-top view for hikers into the park.

Views of the Zion National Park region

Views from Zion Ponderosa

Another joy that summer in Zion brings is the clear night sky. This week, on a warm evening, I walked out to our paintball field, less than five minutes from the lodge. Even that near the lodge and cabins, the sky was clear and the stars were bright. Visible with the naked eye were the bears Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, Draco the Dragon, and Cassiopia. I even saw a shooting star.

Everywhere you turn here at Zion Ponderosa there is a new wonder to be found. A new smell on the air or a new view to gaze upon can surprise you even after days of walking the property. Take a moment each day you spend with us to look around you. Breathe deeply and slow down. In this place of beauty, find the sight, smell, or sound that most touches you. That memory can be cherished for years to come. Keep it and hold it.

Welcome to summer in Zion.