Hiking through southern Utah

First slide

America’s national parks showcase all types of natural beauty: forests, deserts, mountains, lakes. But if you’re in the mood for climbing red rocks, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, just a few hours’ drive from one another, are the spots to visit. Out-of-town visitors can fly into either Salt Lake City or Las Vegas before making the trek to southwest Utah. 

Bryce is famous for its hoodoos, rare geological formations that look like orange- and beige-colored stalagmites. The park has plenty of hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the landscape, but going on horseback is a faster, albeit bumpier, way to see the canyon’s hoodoos. 

Besides a memorable, touristy cluster of western-themed shops, there's not much of a town directly outside the park, though a small Catholic chapel hosts Sunday Mass during the busier summer season.

Zion, a name given to the area by the local pioneering Mormons, was designated a national park in 1919. The Virgin River runs through the park, bringing vegetation and wildlife to the sandstone canyon.

As with Bryce, the thing to do in Zion is hike around the show-stopping sights. A park shuttle transports guests to the most popular trailheads. For the adventurous, Angel’s Landing offers a near birds-eye view of the park, but requires hikers to hold on to a metal chain for safety toward the top.


Zion National Park in Utah is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. ZOEY MARAIST  |  CATHOLIC HERALD

On another trail, hikers walk through the sometimes waist-deep river water, surrounded by the tall canyon walls. At Weeping Rocks, rain water that has traveled through one rock layer drips out as it reaches a less porous one, creating hanging gardens. 

The artsy Springdale is the town nearest to Zion. Though outside the park, brilliant red rocks tower picturesquely over the hotels, shops and various eateries in the one-street town. The walkable area is full of souvenir shops, and also stores with gems, artwork and antiques. The Bumbleberry Inn has a petting zoo with goats, pigs and ducks in the back, and a slice of bumbleberry pie, a type of mixed-berry dessert, is a highlight of the restaurant next door. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018