Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weeping Rock, Emerald Pools - Zion National Park

Both, the Weeping Rock and Emerald Pools trials provide spectacular scenery and are very easy and accessible for all ages.

Weeping Rock is an alcove in the cliff, and while water seeps from the top forming a waterfall, a visitor can see it and feel like they’re standing in the alcove. Falling water nourishes delicate plants growing on the rocks that form a unique picture of plants growing upside down. Among large group of wildflowers there were ferns, moss and grasses. Here is the link to Weeping Rock – Zion movie.

There are three Emerlad Pools, Lower, Middle and Upper. The trail is paved and mostly shaded by cottonwood and boxelder trees. Like Weeping Rock, quite a large alcove welcomes the lower pool and water falling from above nourishes plants creating hanging gardens.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Zion Narrows

Hiking in the Narrows is an amazing experience, one will never forget. The Angels Landing trail and the Narrows are the most popular hikes in the park and one of the world’s best canyon hikes.

The Temple of Sinawava, the last shuttle stop in Zion Canyon is the gateway to the Narrows. The first part consists of the Riverside Walk, a mile long walk along the Virgin River. It’s a nice introduction to the beauty of the Narrows.  What makes hiking in the Narrows so unique is that the trail is in the Virgin River. A good hiking pole might be useful to keep balance while moving against the river current. I would also recommend good waterproof footwear and checking the weather forecast. Hiking might not be permitted when the river is high from runoff due to flash flooding.

We visited Zion Park at the beginning of August. Water in the Narrows was a little cold but pleasant enough to keep us going. We were stunned at the special beauty this place has. There was not ending admiration of rocks changing colors upon different angles of light, riverbanks with some plants and trees growing in that harsh environment, and the way the bottom of the canyon was formed by the river. Each river bend revealed another marvelous view.

Courtesy of Marta Goraczniak

We kept hiking until we reached a little deeper area and unfortunately, as I am not a swimmer, I had to turn back. My family continued and they liked it so much that they went for another longer hike a few days later.

Courtesy of Rafal Goraczniak

You can go up the Narrows as long as you wish. Most people hike from the bottom, for several hours and then turn back. More advanced hikers start at the top and try to accomplish the entire 16 miles hike, but a permit is required if you wish to do this.
Joe Braun a great photographer and an enthusiast of Zion National Park has a beautiful website that I would recommend to read.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Zion National Park - Utah

Zion National Park is so stunning that I am not sure if I will be able to describe its splendor. Zion’s beauty comes from different features such as sandstone colors, rock formations, and diversity of plants. Varying elevations, sun, water and a temperature range create a variety of environment and a visitor depending on a mood can hike into riparian, desert or grassland scenery. You can spend entire day hiking in water (the Narrows) or climbing the Angels Landing to admire the canyon from the roof of the world.

We did some hikes and I will write few posts about the most interesting once and also there will be one special post about the plants that I couldn’t resist and photographed all the time. First let me introduce basic facts about Zion.

Zion is the oldest national park in Utah located in southwestern part of the state. There are four sections in Zion, Zion Canyon, Kolob Canyon, Kolob Terrace and Highway 9.

Zion National Park
Zion Canyon
Zion Canyon
Zion Canyon
Two campgrounds in the Zion Canyon provide basic service such as restrooms, drinking water and picnic table but unfortunately no showers. Pay showers are available in Springdale, a town next to the park. We camped at Watchman campground for four nights. We were surprised with numerous French tourists visiting the park at that time and at times we heard more French than English.

Late in the evening, while we had dinner, the sun lit up the tops of the mountains around us and it felt very peaceful and relaxing. However, at night we experienced something bizarre.  First, we heard leaves shimmering and a weak breeze that escaped from the canyon. Once in a while it got quiet and then suddenly louder, and stronger. At night it turned into wind gusts blowing frantically and I felt like our tent would fly away. We did not sleep well but the next night was a little better. A ranger told us that the wind was caused by temperature differences in the canyon.

Watchman Campground
The park provides a very efficient transportation system that was created to reduce traffic congestion. The free shuttles are available from early April to late October, and run every 7 minutes stopping at all the popular attractions. Other roads in Zion are open to private cars year-round. We loved the shuttle system. It was fast and very convenient to travel.

Shuttle System
The Zion Canyon Visitor Center building has a special design that saves energy. It cools easily is summer and heats quickly in winter. There are always several rangers offering help and a well-supplied book-gift store.
Another park feature that we liked a lot were bottle filling stations located throughout the park. The sale of disposable plastic water bottles is prohibited.

Visitor Center
There is a very nice lodge in the middle of the Canyon Road. It is open year-round and has 40 cabins and 80 motel rooms and it is also a good place to get some food, rest and of course buy more gifts as well.

Zion Lodge
We have been very impressed at the way the park is organized and among all national parks that I have visited so far in the States; Zion National Park is my favorite.

Next post will about the Narrows.

Valley of Fire

Family vacation, three amazing weeks of traveling and camping in the West.

We landed in Las Vegas and after three days that were fun for some and boring for others we left for the Valley of Fire. Not too many people know this place because it is a state park and not near the most visited places in that region.  It is located 55 miles (89 km) northeast of Las Vegas. The park’s name, Valley of Fire, derives from the red sandstones formation that were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs, 150 million years ago. Iron oxide makes rocks looking rusty. When we entered the park I was astonished at how chilling this place was. Hardly any people on the road, red rocks, and a desert landscape surrounding our campsite. The temp was 110–115 F (44-46 C). While we were unpacking our camping equipment I was scanning an area around us. There were numerous lizards, bees (a sign said African killer bees !!) and small white tailed antelope ground squirrels; no snakes fortunately. I checked the campsite facility and discovered that there were very clean showers, that was a plus.
We set up a tent and decided to drive to a nearby lake, Lake Mead, to survive the heat. In the evening, on the way to the campsite we stopped at different places and hiked.

Valley of Fire
Red Rocks
Red Rocks
While we ate our meals many animals came to the water faucet at our site. Besides numerous ground squirrels and lizards we got a new visitor, black tailed jack rabbit, with its long ears it looked very cute.
At night the temp went down to 95 F (35 C) and we tried to fall asleep but it was hard. I heard animals running around and it felt very strange to sleep in a desert.

Mountain Goat
Courtesy of Marta Goraczniak
White tailed antelope ground squirrel
Courtesy of Marta Goraczniak
Jack Rabbit - Courtesy of Marta Goraczniak
Lizard- Courtesy of Marta Goraczniak
The Valley of Fire had users called Anasazi, who were farmers living in close proximity, who hunted, and performed religious ceremonies in this area. We saw many examples of rock art called petroglyphs that supposedly are 3,000 years old.

The Valley of Fire is an astounding place, a little isolated, a little spooky but I would recommend it to anyone who is travelling through this area. 


Why a blog “I like New Jersey?” because I enjoy living in New Jersey and exploring the Tri-State Area. I was born and raised in Poland and I have lived in NY and PA (Long Island and Philadelphia) but mostly in NJ. There are many things people don’t know about NJ and of course I don’t know them all either, but I hope that while writing the blog about it I discover more and my readers as well.

It is summer so I went with my family on vacation to the West that’s why my first posts will be about that area and then I will return to writing about the East coast.