Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Zion National Park, Utah - Kolob Canyons - Backpacking

Hunter and Col enjoyed last year's backpacking trip to Halls Creek Narrows so much that they were eager to plan another adventure for the Labor Day holiday weekend.  We had discussed the possibility of doing a backpacking trip to the Pine Valley Mountains just north of St. George, UT, but the descriptions didn't sound  that exciting and the threat of mosquitoes and muddy trails made Pine Valley sound even less appealing.  I decided to check if there were any permits available online for the Kolob Canyons region of Zion National Park and surprisingly there was one backcountry site available for a perfect three day trip along La Verkin Creek.  With plans made and new found excitement to spend the weekend in the canyons, I hopped on a plane Friday night night and landed in St. George, UT an hour later.

La Verkin Creek

I stayed at Hunter and Col's beautiful new home on Friday night and on Saturday morning we headed to Zion National Park to pick up our backcountry permit.  Soon we were descending down from Lee Pass Trailhead toward La Verkin Creek  and our home for the next two nights.

Col ready to start the trip at Lee Pass Trailhead

Col and Hunter hiking down to La Verkin Creek

The La Verkin Creek Trail and the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park are much quieter than the main canyon.  We only saw a few people on the trail along with one very large rattlesnake.  The trail headed south from Lee Pass and dipped into a few dry rivers beds as it passed towering red rock cliffs and beautiful patches of wildflowers.  Eventually the trail descended into La Verkin Creek and turned east about a mile before our backcountry camping spot.

La Verkin Creek

View from our camping spot

We set up camp about 5 miles from Lee Pass Trailhead and spent the evening enjoy the river and the beautiful sunset.  Unlike some of our previous backpacking trips, the weather was perfect for sitting around and enjoy the solitude and scenery.

Sunset at our camp spot

Enjoying the scenery and La Verkin Creek

The next morning we set out with our lighter packs for a long day hike to Beartrap Creek and Kolob Arch.  Beartrap Creek is a less visited area of Kolob Canyons and offers a spectacular 30 foot waterfall dropping into a lush, narrow slot canyon.  The hike to Beatrap Creek took us through a more narrow and scenic portion of La Verkin Creek and several miles of the trail had scenes typical of the main canyon in Zion.  After enjoying the beautiful waterfall about a half mile up Beartrap Creek, we headed back down La Verkin Creek to check out Kolob Arch.  While it may be one of the largest free standing arches in the world, it's position against a similar colored rock wall made it less spectacular to view than we were expecting.  We took a few pictures and headed back down the side canyon to enjoy a nap by the river.

Evening Primrose near our campsite

 La Verkin Creek with beautiful pools of water

Along the trail to Beartrap Creek

Taking a break with Col along La Verkin Creek

Beartrap Creek waterfall

Beartrap Creek waterfall

Of course there would be a snake in the river where  I dropped my hat

After a long day of hiking to Beartrap Creek and Kolob Arch, we were all happy to get back to our camping spot to eat some dinner, relax by the river, and go to bed.  It was another comfortable night with clear moonlit skies and cool temperatures.

 Hunter and Col hiking along La Verkin Creek

 Hunter loved the pretty flowers

Kolob Arch

Banana flask after a long day of hiking!

Since the majority of our hike was downhill on the first day, the trip out was a lot of uphill.  We were all ready to clean up and eat some real food by the time we reached the trailhead on Monday afternoon.  Hunter prepared a fantastic meal for us to enjoy on my last night in St. George and Lisa and Jeanne joined us for some well earned beers.

 Col and Hunter packing up camp and heading out

Fabulous dinner and Hunter and Col's house