Zion National Park Off The Beaten Path Tips by richiecdisc Top 5 Page for this destination
Zion National Park Off The Beaten Path: 43 reviews and 75 photos
The Wild West is synonymous with Ghost Towns and Zion has one, conveniently a short drive away. Grafton traces its origin to 1859 when its fertile surroundings gave birth to a cotton industry despite local Indian attacks. It seems the Indians liked the place too and for good reason; it's a gorgeous area with a good water source. Evidently the settlers won out and the town thrived until the 1930s. What you see now is a skeleton of its former glory but a nice step back in time including a simple old church.
Access Grafton via Route 9 from the west entrance to the park. We stopped here on our way back from our backpacking trip on the West Rim so can easily be combined with a trip to either of the Kolob areas.
well worth the drive
The Kolob Terrace section of the park is probably its most remote part of Zion due to the 36 mile winding road to access Lava Point, the area's core. The drive itself is breathtaking and there are numerous trails into very little traveled wilderness like Wildcat Canyon and the West Rim trail. Please plan ahead as there are no facilities in this part of the park. The primitive campground at Lava Point only has pit toilets and no running water. Check for opening as this part of the park is much higher in elevation and is not open in winter. We saw quite a bit of snow even in May.
wild turkey strutting his stuff
We didn't see much wild life during our seven days at Zion, even in the back country but the wild turkey was ever present and it seems in mating season while there. Of course, the ubiquitous squirrels were always the lookout for a handout. Don't feed the cute little buggers, please.
The West Temple aglow at dawn
As I'm sure Native Americans named the beautiful rock formations before them, Mormon settlers had some interesting if a bit zealously religious names for many of them. Zion conveniently has signs everywhere detailing their names as well as information about the formations themselves. The West Temple and the Towers of the Virgin are some of the most famous. Capturing them in perfect light is quite tricky as the canyon is steep so early and late morning light also produces a fair amount of shadow.
Zion's colors not confined to the rocks
Arriving in Zion in early May was not only great for the weather and hiking but also for the wild flower display. Some of the very best were found along the trails. So, you know my advice: hike.
one very cool graveyard indeed
Perhaps the most interesting part of Grafton is its very atmospheric cemetery. Inscriptions on the graves tell a sad story of harsh frontier life where children often died young as well as proof of a bloody Indian-settler dispute over who had rights to the land.
serene walk to Kolob Arch in fall of 1995
The Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park is a great place to escape the crowds in Zion Valley. This colorful and more serene area offers a near empty scenic drive and some lengthy hikes such as the one to the 14-mile round trip to Kolob Arch which I did as a day hike in 1995. This arch is the second longest free standing arch in the world next to Landscape Arch in Arches National Park. We contemplated doing this as an overnight hike to get better light on the Arch but the lack of water for drinking/cooking put a damper on our desires and after completing the West Rim hike from Lava Point in the nearby Kolob Terrace section of the park, we decided to move on. The Kolob Canyon is 90 minutes from the south entrance of Zion National Park.
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