The alarm rings at 2:45am; the sky has barely gone to sleep and somehow I’m supposed to be awake. Eunice, Shelby, Kassy, and I pack a Prius full of suitcases and pretzels to head to Zion National Park for the weekend.
As we roamed the expansive land, I realized I’ve never been so in awe of nature’s way to catch my eye. Although I’ve been around plenty of desert landscapes, even ones with red mountains (Sedona, Arizona, anyone?), never have I been so enthralled with the size of a place. I mean, seriously, it’s HUGE. Zion is impressively massive and even more beautiful than pictures can capture.
My beautiful gal pal, Eunice, showed us around the best spots in Zion: The Narrows and the summit of Angel’s Landing – two of the most impressive landscapes in the world, right beside each other in the same park.
Never have I been so enthralled with the size of a place.
We knew that Zion is known for its lush colors, deep blood-orange mountain tops, and dreamy skies. What we didn’t know was how crowded the trails or campsites would be – a blood thirsty playground with hungry hikers waiting for a goddamned spot to finally open. When we entered the park, we imagined setting up our tent around noon and trekking out on a hike – though it wasn’t so. We had to sleep in our car in the Visitor Center parking lot and hope that our backs weren’t hurting for the Angel’s Landing hike the next morning. What we also didn’t know was that sleeping in the parking lot was illegal (?!) until a cop banged on our doors and told us to leave.
The next night, however, we got lucky with Zion Mountain Ranch. The beautiful 500 acre ranch is set just a few miles outside the East side of the national park, full of buffalo, chickens, roosters, goats, ponies, horses, and more. They even had an old run-down greenhouse packed with wild weeds and autumnal goods for me to awe at.
I loved this place.
Natalie Allen is a desert photographer and writer. See more of her work at the natalieallen.co, and find her on Instagram.
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