“West Rim” 17-Mile Hike at Zion National Park in Southern Utah

Odometer (Legend):  554,721

Odometer (TL):  101,487

Trip Distance:  900 Miles

For some reason it’s always two days after a hike when the worst cramping and soreness start.  My friend Kyle described the contortions he had to make when getting out of the car last night:  “I twisted out of the car like a geriatric.”  And he’s only 32!  A 17-mile, 8-hour-long hike can really give your leg muscles a run for their money.  I paid for it on my end, too.  But it was worth it.

Having grown up about 45 minutes from Zion, in St. George, Utah, I’ve spent plenty of time in the park but it never seems to get old.  This specific trail – the “West Rim” – was new to me and gave a never-before-seen perspective on some of the park’s 229 square miles of beauty.  Some 4.2 million people visit the park each year, but I’d dare say that most of them don’t attempt a one-day hike as ambitious as the one that we did.

Once again my mountainman (mountainwoman?) of a mother, Tia, reigned athletically supreme as she led our pack of 7 adventurous hikers on a quest through the southern Utah backcountry.  Though technically a downhill hike for its majority, the West Rim trail had its fair share of grades — enough that I guzzled down about 6 bottled waters over the course of the day.  I liked how with each water I finished, my backpack got a little bit lighter to carry.

The terrain on the West Rim took us through many different types of trails:  Wooded forest, singletrack pathway through a field, shale rock, cliffside on sandstone, and a lot in between.  All the while, we were afforded some of the best views that money can’t buy.   Luckily for us, even the weather was prime – with our start temperatures at the Lava Point Campground around 50 degrees and the finish in the low 70s.

We found a consistent pace and alternated who got to lead the pack.  I usually preferred to stay toward the back of the lineup, and wherever space allowed, we usually walked two abreast so we could carry on conversations with one another.  At one point, Kyle and Sandy broke away for an ‘optional’ one-mile out & back side trip to “Angel’s Landing” – a spectacular viewpoint atop a 1,500-foot-tall sandstone cliff to the canyon below.  I’d already seen it, and by the time we got to that decision point, we were already 14 miles into our 17-miler, so I opted to rest my legs.

By the time we finally were within eyesight of “The Grotto,” where a shuttle bus would pick us up and take us to the visitor center to get my stepdad Todd’s truck, we broke into a jog because we were so excited, and because it felt easier on the quads and knees than taking a slower walk.  No pain, no gain!  We finished strong.  And we celebrated:

We were grateful for the chance to refuel our bodies later that evening.  Kyle and Rob and I decided to consume as many carbs as we could, so we paid a visit to an Italian place on Tabernacle Street in St. George called Cappeletti’s.  The lasagna was top-notch.  True to tradition, mom fixed us a breakfast of hotcakes the following morning pre-departure.  There’s nothing like a drizzle of maple syrup to undo all the calorie-burning we’d done the day prior!

Here is a 3-minute video, along with some photos of our weekend!

TL at Sunset in Kingman, Arizona on the way to St. George Thursday night

Mom had left us goody bags

Taking my brother’s 1968 Chevy II Nova SS to lunch.  It has a 525-horsepower “LS3” V8 and 6-speed manual transmission.

Outdoor dining at 25 Main.

Now taking a ride in my other brother’s 700+ horsepower Lexus IS300.  What a beast.

I dictated a shopping list to my 6-year-old niece.  Can you decipher this?

It says:  hamburger, pita bread, trail mix, and water.

Morning of the hike!  Aunt Jodi dropped us off at the trailhead.

Six bumps on a log


Starting out at a brisk pace

Taking a breather and eating some snacks

Following a few signs toward the destination – with mom in the lead

Approaching “Scout Overlook” near Angel’s Landing

Panoramic views.  See the road at the bottom of the canyon?

Side trail to Angel’s Landing

Headed on down

Dinner spot that evening


Departing mom’s on Sunday morning after breakfast

Riding in the backseat of my own car

Side note – I checked on the model car project!

12 Responses to ““West Rim” 17-Mile Hike at Zion National Park in Southern Utah”

  1. I teared up watching the video and reviewing these photos. This day will become even more meaningful as time passes. Thank you, again, for taking time to document for the Memory Bank where I shall stash it forever, going there on many occasions to revisit a most delightful weekend. Love, mom

  2. Tyson, the scenery in that hike was gorgeous in the photos- it must have been even more amazing in person. So envious that you get views like that throughout much of the southwest and Utah. I also enjoyed the shopping list (reminds me of my own niece’s spelling attempts), but I have to admit, the third one stumped me until I saw the caption- I thought you had asked her to write down a chamois on your list for detailing the TL.

    Zion is definitely on my list of must-see places!!

    • Ha! Yeah, I wondered why she would spell “trail” with “ch” until I actually sounded it out to myself and figured, yeah, I guess that makes sense! I dictated the list to her and probably threw her off a little bit. Let me know if you ever get time for a Zion vacay and mom & I will roll out the red carpet.

  3. Ira Leventhal Says:

    This inspires me to get out and be as active as I can. My goal is to get a 5 mile hike in before Halloween!! Great pics Tyson

    • 5 miles is ambitious considering your current state so don’t overexert yourself during the recovery period. I still can’t believe what you’ve gone through over the last week or so. Hang in there.

  4. A 700+ HP IS300, Tyson? Crazy ride!?!? Is that the same car you’ve mentioned a few years ago that you picked up for Payton? If so, he’s got to have done a fair few modifications to make that much power. Sounds like you had a fun trip away, make sure you have plenty of protein to replenish those poor muscles!

  5. Did you know you can burn as many calories detailing 3 cars as you did hiking!?

    Nah… just made that up but sure feels like it especially when you’re of a certain age 😉

    Nice pics and great experience I’m sure.

    BTW, love your brother’s 68 Nova. Here’s a fun fact, both the Nova and Camaro shared many components icluding the front subframe when the Camaro was introduced. In fact by the 70s their owners manuals were titled “Camaro/Nova” pretty sure I have one here somewhere…

    • The Nova is sweet. At a stoplight, we had someone yell out his window: “Tell the driver I’ll trade him.” The man was driving a school bus. No thanks! Haha. One day it would be fun to have a classic car (well, more “classic” than 1992, anyway). Hope your week is going well.

  6. Looks like 17 beautiful miles!

    • Brad, it truly was! A postcard around every corner. I liked that most of the backcountry we went through had very few people in it – quite a contrast from the overcrowded national park visitor center, shuttle ride, etc. Hope you have some fun weekend plans.

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