Hop Valley Trail
After being held captive in the truck for a half hour or so, as the rain played a private concerto on our windshield, we tramped off, grateful that the shower had hardened the deep sandy path before us. As we approached the descent into the valley, a striking backdrop unfolded before us: salmon-colored cliffs towered above some of the greenest meadows I have ever witnessed!
We zigzagged through the canyon, breathing in the clean air, and listening to the passing chirps of the birds as they chased one another through the pines. Tadpoles had made the small streams their home, and small orange and sky-blue butterflies playfully fleeted around, taking short breaks on the various wildflowers in bloom. Lizards fled from our encroaching shadows only to scurry back into the sun once we’d ambled on. It seemed to me to be a perfect wildlife refuge.
Despite spending an entire afternoon exploring Zion’s west side, we did not come across another soul. Yes, I am talking about the Zion; the nation’s 6th most visited National Park. How did we manage to escape the summer crowds? Kolob Canyon is the lesser-known and less-visited portion of the park, separate from its main area surrounding the visitor center, and mostly has trails that take a considerable bit more time to explore.
We left as the sun was starting to wane, glowing from our successful hike, and savored the landscape that never ceases to impress on the windy road back to Highway 9. Hop Valley, a hop and skip away from the main road leading to Zion NP from Hurricane, UT, truly provided the solitude and serenity I was after.
What better time to go explore one of the National Parks near you?!
-Story and photos by Iris Picat