While researching for my trip to the southwest I read all about the limitations monument valley has regarding hiking. How there’s only one hike you can do unaccompanied and everything else must be hiked with a Navajo guide. I think guides are important to meet the locals and learn things not otherwise noted. However, I’m an advocate for also being able to explore at my own pace. So I came across Valley of the Gods and was pleasantly surprised to see you could walk right up to buttes and not need a guide. Just make sure when traveling to Valley of the Gods that you’re prepared. There are no facilities and no source of drinking water. And remember to carry out your trash.
We turned onto the 17 mile-long dirt road just north of Mexican hat. It’s a bumpy ride and we were in an SUV. I saw sedans on the road as well so I don’t think an SUV is necessary. But online it states that when wet the area is impassable, even in an SUV. So check the weather and enter at your own risk!
There were tents at the base of some of the buttes. I’m sure people who had stayed the night had an awesome experience there. It’s so peaceful and quiet.
The buttes have names and it’s fun guessing which ones are on the list. We found a very informative map Here. The one that struck me as the easiest to see was the lady in the tub. I couldn’t unsee her in that tub! It totally personified the butte for me.
After we drove the 17 miles we headed over to Moki (Mokee) Dugway. It’s also a dirt road and there are warning signs at the base before entering. Impassable during rain and 10% grades made for an interesting ride in the passenger seat.
But so worth it. The views were a bit hazy and the pictures don’t do it justice. Atop the dugway you can see the Valley of the Gods below. Can you spot the lady in the bath tub? On clearer days you can even see monument valley from there.
Overall Valley of the Gods and Moki Dugway are areas for people to explore with less crowds. You can have a real personal experience here in solitude if you wish. And that’s hard to come by in the ever growingly popular south west.
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”
After hiking Angels Landing Wednesday morning, I wanted to continue exploring without completely exhausting my last bit of energy. I had a list on my phone of easy hikes that had been posted to Zion’s website HERE. So we opted for a stroll in Riverside walk. We took the shuttle to the last stop called Temple of Sinawava.
I’m a huge fan of trails that form loops vs in and out trails. Riverside Walk is supposed to be in and out, but you can walk the path in and then walk along the Virgin River in the sand for the most part coming out (or in reverse). I was curious to see what it looked like as this trail leads into the narrows. One day I would love to do that hike. It’s on my ever growing list of hikes I wish to complete.
This trail is wheel chair friendly for a pretty decent portion. Once the paved path starts to have too many inclines there’s a sign that identifies the end of the wheelchair friendly portion. The changes in elevation are minimal, but enough to make it difficult for a wheel chair to continue on the path.
There is a warning about the flash floods at the entrance of the trail. When I was there in April the Virgin River was impassable and the Narrows were closed. I had seen many videos prior to visiting Zion of what flash floods are and how quickly they can occur. So when you visit, make sure to do your due diligence and check on the potential of a flash flood during your visit.
Not far from the entrance we were greeted by a waterfall.
Being the ever so curious person I am, I had to check how deep the water was here.
Sometimes I can get caught up in the destination portion of the hike. But knowing this was more about the hike itself, I put my electronics away until I got to the end. As you walk through remember to look up and enjoy the hanging gardens. We even stopped at some point on a large rock to watch the river go by. It was probably the most relaxing thing I did that whole trip.
Once we reached the entrance of The Narrows, I was determined to dip my feet into the water. I may have been wearing a tank top and sweating from the heat, but the water was unaware of the warm weather. I stood in the water for about 10 seconds before I had to remove my feet. The water was so cold that I felt pain shoot up into my knees.
I know that doesn’t sound appealing but I took a seat and waited for the feeling to return to my toes. Clearly, I was going to do it again, but this time I knew what to expect.
When I did it again I committed to staying in for at least 30 seconds. I’m not a masochist I promise! I just know my feet had been through many miles already that day. And according to Google:
“Immersing tired joints and muscles in ice water stimulates blood flow and reduces inflammation. It causes the veins to constrict, removes toxins from the blood, and alleviates the delayed on-set of muscles soreness.”
I still had so much hiking to do that trip. Reducing soreness and inflammation was worth 30 second stings of ice cold water. I use ice on my knees and achilles when I’m home, so this was no different for me. Not to mention, the rebel in me wanted to know I stood in the water at the entrance of The Narrows.
Thanks for reading about this very easy, leisurely stroll on Riverside Walk! If you’d like to read about my hike to Angels Landing from earlier that morning, click HERE. Or if you’d like to see what other hikes I’ve completed click HERE.
“Stillness as a technique is still really captivating to me.”
We got up early and parked before anyone was even stationed at the entrance booth. Luckily we had already purchased our park pass the day before and didn’t need the booth to be open. Once in the lot we were surprised by how many cars were there. It was 6:52am and a line had already formed for the shuttle. Here’s a picture of the distance between the parking lot and the shuttle stop. The welcome center has information posted outside so it’s available even when they are closed. The restrooms were open as well. Thank goodness because I had to “nervous pee.” Essentially it’s the same way I used to feel as a kid when hiding during hide and seek lol.
We made it onto the first shuttle bus and both sections filled up quick. I felt so bad for a gentleman running to the bus with his two small daughters in tow. Luckily, the buses run every 15 minutes this time of year (late April) and I’m sure he was on the very next one. However, as someone who was up super early I appreciate the shuttle service’s punctuality. It meant we could devote all day to Angels Landing if needed.
We got off the bus with most of the other passengers at stop #6 – The Grotto. For a map of the Springdale and Zion shuttle stops click Here. With your back towards the picnic area, you’ll walk across the road and then over a bridge. This bridge is suspended over the Virgin River. Once over the bridge you’re at the start of the trail. Obviously my heart is racing at this point!
This is the most difficult hike I have completed to date. And even as we headed up, with all my research and notes, I had no idea what I was truly getting myself into.
We were passing people and people were passing us. Everyone was hiking at their own pace and even at the base of the hike some were already taking breaks (myself included). I stopped for a moment to look up and saw how small the other hikers looked as they climbed. You can spot them below.
The views are amazing. The difficult decision here is whether to take many breaks and take it all in, or risk tripping. I chose to walk and look and snap pictures simultaneously. I may not have tripped but my husband is always hyper aware to make sure I stay on the trail lol. Wouldn’t want to stray off the trail around this corner!
As you come up to this bridge you’ve entered the portion of the trail named refrigerator canyon. It’s nice and cool in here. So welcomed as we were already breaking a sweat. When we reached the end on this canyon we’d already ascended approximately 1000 ft.
And then came the wiggles. Let me tell you about Walter’s Wiggles. They… Are… Brutal! I knew about them from the research and pictures I’d seen. I was excited to see them in person. Nicole and I always mentioned them when we spoke about going on this trip. We even giggled on multiple occasions because the name is so fun to say. Go ahead, try it. Say it out loud and see if you don’t feel a little giggly.
BUT! They are no joke. These 21 switchbacks were the most physically demanding portion for me. I wasn’t nearly as winded on any portion of the trail as I was here. So one of my fellow hikers captured this progression as I climbed…
And climbed some more….
The climb seemed endless…
The idea that we still had at least another 1.5 hours to go after those wiggles left me speechless. We took a moment to observe the spine (Hogsback) of Angels Landing as we approached Scout’s Lookout. You can see the other hikers (more experienced obvi) making their way up where the red arrows are pointing. The blue arrow is where we need to go. Happy to be done with the wiggles I gladly accepted the remainder of the hike and was looking forward to being on the summit.
The area around Scout’s Lookout has plenty of space to sit and take a breather. The guys used the toilets there and soon we were on our way to tackle the Hogsback portion of the trail.
There’s a couple of signs to scare inform you of what’s to come. You know, the casual stuff about it being extrenous and how many have died.
No seriously, they tell you six people have fallen to their deaths since 2004.
Even after reading that I chose to keep one hand on the chains and one on the camera. Here are the views as you climb.
It was April and perfect temperature as the morning progressed. I needed that sweater in the early morning when it was really cold. Not sure how people do this in 100+ degree weather.
Here’s Nicole and CJ heading up.
It’s a long way down. So it’s super important to hold on when the chains are available.
Especially in the sketchier parts like the one in the picture below.
You ever see the scary movies where people are having nightmares. And the nightmare consists of the person running through a hallway that just keeps stretching? Well this hike felt like it just kept strecthing. You would hike a decent amount and look up to see that you still had a very long way to go.
All that matters is that you take your time while heading up. Go at the pace you feel most comfortable in. And if you’re lucky like me, your husband will lend a hand when you can’t reach the floor.
Here’s CJ just casually standing on the thinnest part of the Hogsback portion.
AMAZING! Look at those sunbursts over the Virgin River.
And that’s not even the summit. We’re still working our way up!
We finally get to a point that’s pretty flat. I sat down on this old tree and took a water break and soaked in some scenery.
And then up again.
FINALLY!!!!!!! ANGELS LANDING!!!
If you can’t tell by my caps lock and exclamation points, I was so excited to be up there lol. I almost cried from happiness.
Tony had packed the sandwiches in a cooler bag and stashed them in his bookbag FTW. We ate turkey and cheese sandwiches around 9:45am. That’s more than 2 hours of hiking to get to this point.
These little guys are everywhere. There are also signs posted about them everywhere. You can get fined for feeding them too. But that doesn’t stop them from trying to steal some snacks.
Tony and CJ decided a cold one was the ultimate reward for this hike. They definitely deserved it after conquering the Refrigerator Canyon, Walter’s Wiggles, and the Hogsback.
For me the reward was the view.
I will say this, for the difficulty of hiking this trail, it is well worth it. If you’re brave enough to look while you’re hiking you’ll see something magnificent no matter where you look. I had moments where I wanted to pinch myself because I could not believe I was up there. I also had moments I could not understand why I would put myself in potential peril. As I sat up there I understood why. You can’t drive to these kinds of views, you have to hike. And the hike makes it so much more worth it when you arrive.
We also saw a pair of California Condors flying around. They got pretty close to us when we were near Scout’s Landing.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this post. The remaining pictures are of our descent and nothing I didn’t share on the way up.