The Weeping Rock, Zion National Park Main Canyon
The verdant gardens of Weeping Rock are exquisitely beautiful. In the early morning and without another soul in sight, the place feels sacred where nature whispers in the dulcet tones of waterdrops and sunshine. Maidenhair ferns glisten like emeralds. Purple Zion shooting stars dot crevasses like amethyst gems sewn into a gown. Golden columbine and scarlet lobelia cling like frilly lace. Unfortunately, because it’s such an easy hike and within the main canyon of Zion, its a peace easily shattered by tourists after 9am. Regardless, I can still appreciate the geology: the large bowl-shaped alcove of Weeping Rock is where a lower layer of sandstone has eroded away. Rain Water slowly seeps and descends within the sandstone, when the water reaches an impermeable layer of rock, it is forced out the cliff side causing a “weeping” effect. The weeping walls create a microhabitat perfect for certain kinds of plant life. These clusters of plants are called hanging gardens. While Zion National Park is rich with hanging gardens and weeping walls, this is one has platform area constructed under the alcove, perfect for viewing the canyon from a curtain of perpetual rain.
Timber Overlook Trail, Zion National Park Kolob Canyons
Getting weary of the crowded portions of Zion National Park, we turn to Kolob Canyons, which is located in the northwestern section of the park and accessible via Exit 40 off of I-15. The vistas here are equally wondrous as Zion Canyon. Rugged and utterly red Navajo sandstone peaks jut high into the sky. Cascading falls pour from between cliffs and with a good set of binoculars, I can just pick them out. I sense there is more to this wilderness than what can be seen from the intentionally short Kolob Drive. According to the map, there are over 20 miles of backcountry trails. Who knows what wonders they lead to.
At the end of the drive is Kolob Canyons View Point and the trail head for Timber Overlook. The hike isn’t thrilling, but it leads to one my favorite views of the park. This normally quick stroll was bogged down by large swaths of mud and standing water, making the terrain difficult to hike. At the end, there’s a wide panorama view. To the east are all the buttes, cliff mesas, and peaks. To the south is Timber creek hidden in a swath of green. And to the west are the Hurricane Cliffs covered in a light dusting of snow.