Thursday evening on October 15th we left Provo, UT and headed for Zion national park. The drive there was very smooth. This was one of the longer trips that our trailer Betty-Jean had been on by this point. It was really fun driving through cities such as Panguitch, Hatch, and Orderville that we had never seen before.
We have stayed near the west entrance of Zion’s multiple times, so we decided to experience the east side of Zion’s this time. After research, we chose Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. It is conveniently located right on the cliffs above zion’s east entrance. We arrived there around 10 pm and were immediately greeted by staff, showing us to our site. Betty-Jean was placed right in the middle of a ponderosa pine forest which was our number #1 preference. The moment we let the dogs out, they started barking and chasing multiple deer through the site that we hadn’t seen yet.
The next day when we woke up, we were shocked to see what was around us; Pine forests, and red rock formations as far as the eye could see. We immediately set our sights on hiking the canyon rim. Seeing we had already done Angels Landing only a couple of months before, we decided to have our main hike be Observation Point. I had heard from multiple people that observation point is one of the more physically challenging hikes in Zion’s. Luckily, we learned there was a sort of “back entrance” to Observation Point that started right on the Zion Ponderosa property! This route is much shorter, and less strenuous than starting at the valley floor and working your way up.
When dry, the dirt roads are easily accessible by low-clearance cars, but things got a little tricky seeing it had recently rained. Much of the road had huge potholes pull of water and slippery mud. This is definitely not a good trail to visit in a thunderstorm… The hike from the East Mesa Trailhead to Observation Point is 3.2 miles (one way) and could take an average hiker 1.5 hours (one way).
Even though this East Mesa route was a better option, the hike was by no means easy. Lots of uphill and downhill, and sandy paths, but it was all worth it. About half way there, you get amazing views of Mystery Canyon. A bit past Mystery Canyon, the trail starts heading south and descends a bit, offering teaser views of the dramatic cliff formations of the main canyon. Once we arrived at Observation Point, we were all amazed at how high we were above everything else in the canyon. We were even looking down on Angels Landing! The friends we were with carried their baby in an Osprey Poco and it was amazing to see how sturdy it was. This was one of my favorite scenic hikes I had even done. I would definitely recommend it to anyone in decent shape.
After we arrived back from the hike, we all headed to the jacuzzi they have on the property to relax our muscles and take it easy for the night. We fired up the oven in old Betty-Jean and cooked some tasty pizzas for dinner.
The next morning, we piled into a car and headed through the mt. carmel tunnel to the visitors center. We boarded the required trams that run through zion national park. We headed up to emerald pools trials and also the canyon overlook. trail. Both were great and we had a lot of fun.
One of our favorite areas in Zions is actually the pa’rus trail that starts near the visitors center and follows the river for a couple miles. Named after the Paiute word for “bubbling water,” the Pa’rus Trail is one of the newer and most accessible trails in Zion National Park. It is the only trail in Zion that is open to bicycles and pets, so needless to say, we took the pups there! Along the trail, the scenery is quite nice, including several bridges that cross above the river, lots of bright wildflowers, and deer can often be spotted. After the dogs were tired, we drove back through zion to the campground, enjoyed the sunset, and settled in for the night.
Unfortunately we had to leave the next morning. To us, this was more than just a vacation, it was like stepping into a different world. Zions never ceases to impress… We also couldn’t be happier with the way Betty-Jean towed behind the 4runner and kept us dry and warm at night. There is a whole new level of unknown with a 1968 trailer, so we were quite pleased. We hope to head back there soon! Feel free to reach out to us if you want to join in the fun!