I want to live exactly in this spot. I want to spend all of my days staring over the vast open(ness). brushing red dust from my pants and picking thorns out of the soles of my Tevas.
When planning our trip to Zion I was... well... I was not that enthusiastic. Dogs are only permitted on one trail in the park and I had heard that overcrowding was spoiling the experience. I'll chat about the hikes in Zion separately so check the trail reviews to hear more about that. I would never call Zion a bust, or even disappointing, but I will say that far and away the best part of Zion was the secluded spectacular sleeping arrangement we had outside of the park.
To get to this land of solitude head North on Kolob Terrace Road off of HWY 9, just past the town of Virgin. this route will take you through the Western edge of Zion National Park, but you will quickly pop back out so no worries about breaking any rules with dogs. You will take a left onto Smith Mesa Rd.. From there just keep your eyes out for what you desire in a camping spot! Some were right on the road, some were perched right on the edge of steep red rock cliffs. We picked a sandy offshoot tucked discreetly between wispy Junipers.
It should be noted; this particular camping area was a 45 minute drive to the South entrance of Zion National Park. There is BLM land closer to that entrance but we heard that it was a trickier drive and we were rocking a 2wd van so we didn't risk it.
Back to the fun stuff.
While our main objective of this trip was to explore Zion I was racing to finish each hike to ensure we would have time back at our campsite before the sun went down. Zion has spectacular views and unique trails, but I wouldn't trade our little plot of land overlooking it all for another minute in the crowded, paved pathways in the National Park.
We managed to avoid any cactus pricks, though they were plentiful. There wasn't any cell reception for miles. We had to pack in all of our water and didn't see any sources that would have worked had we brought a filter. A fire ring was already set up in our site, but we didn't know if there were any active fire bans in the area so we left ours dormant.
The pups spent hours hopping around on the rocks, none of which were too high for us to worry about a steep fall. We spent hours watching the pups hop. I think I had more stillness than I have ever been able to manage before. The land was so completely flat. And then it wasn't. It was desolate, barren. And then it was alive.
When the sun set I immediately piled on the layers as it got coooollld cold cold. Like, two pairs of socks, two pairs of pants, three shirts and two coats cold. We could have retreated into the van to cozy up in our sleeping bags but the obsidian sky flecked with bright white stars was just too enticing. Every shooting star pushed me further from the awareness that my toes were losing feeling and mobility.
Below are some campsite photos, but nothing an iPhone can produce will accurately convey the beauty of this campsite.