Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Observation Point Trail in Zion National Park. Where the Dinosaurs Hide. Top Zion Day Hike

View from Observation Point, Zion National Park

I’ve always imagined that someday I’ll find dinosaurs around one of the secret, winding corners of Zion National Park.

They’ll be hiding, and when I bump into them they’ll put a giant, lizardy finger up to their lips: Shhhhhh. Don’t tell, Annie.

There’s a Jurassic feel at Zion. 

Maybe it’s something about the massiveness of the place. You can just FEEL the ancient energy of the rocks. And scientists have actually discovered dinosaur footprints in the park made by beasts called Dilophosaurus and Grallator among others from when those creatures were running around and partying in the swamps 65-plus million years ago.

The hike to Observation Point is one of the Zion hikes that transports us to this Jurassic world. And I seriously can’t wait to get on the trail.

Backpacks geared up for the 8 mile, 2,100’ vertical hike, we jump off the shuttle at the “Weeping Rock” stop and begin the climb up a series of massive switchbacks that are carved underneath the glowing, orange wall on the East side of the gigantic valley.

View from the first set of switchbacks of Angel's Landing and the West edge of the valley.

At around 1,000 feet up, we stop climbing and head into the lush, green oasis of Echo Canyon. This is one of the places where the dinosaurs hide.

Sandwiched between giant, curving walls that extend way above our heads, we hike through and admire the awe-some sandstone, wavy erosion patterns created over the millions of years by wind and water.

Echo Canyon has led us straight inside the earth.

Reflection deep inside the walls of Echo Canyon. Where the dinosaurs hide.





After an energy, GORP boost and some water and time to take it all in, we leave the canyon and pop out to face another wall of switchbacks that will lead us to our destination at 6,500 feet.

This is when the exposures get fun. Our eyes grow large as we trek up and skew more towards the mountain-side of the trail versus the precarious drop on the other edge. ‘Cause the other side is only for sticky-spiders and mountain goats that aren’t worried about a thousand-plus foot plunge down a cliff.

Vibrant wildflowers find a place to grow in nooks and crannies along the trail.

Up, up, up. It’s hot and the occasional burst of wildflowers creates a modern painting of vibrant green and purple and red splotches of color against the orange and brown of the rocks.

The switchbacks end and we’ve made it to the summit of the plateau high above the valley. A short, flat hike along the plateau leads us over and around to our destination: Observation Point. Where we get to break for lunch and gasp at the Zion views.

Observation Point. Lunch and a view and a 2,100' drop. Thanks to Bob for taking this pic.

Down below us we can see the tiny ants of people hiking along the world-famous Angel’s Landing. The lush, green Virgin River winds through Zion’s valley and the clouds are just the right kind of puffy-white. It’s a magical day.

And, honestly, I really think we just might find a Dilophosaurus dinosaur sneaking around Echo Canyon on the hike back down. There’s something in the air. In the rocks. Only in Zion National Park.

- Outdoorsy Mama

Trip Report:
Location: Observation Point Hike, Zion National Park
Length & Elevation: 8 miles RT and 2,100' up
Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
Exposure: Mostly sun
What to wear: Bring layers. Hot hiking up but can cool down once you stop.
Kid friendly? Only for older, experienced hiking kids. Steep drops on the side of the trail make this a "no-joke" hike and I would say for teens and up. (Know your kids and their impulses.)
Best time to visit: A day without rain or snow.

Zion National Park sign of Observation Point Trail hike.
For more hiking:

Disclaimer: Check the weather and trail conditions before starting any hike. All hike stats are approximations. Take care when hiking with children to know their limits and the trail terrain. All opinions are my own.

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