Travel approximately 42 miles by motorcoach to Zion National Park. Hiking 4 to 5 miles. Riverside Walk is an easy 2-mile round trip on a fairly level paved trail ending at the entrance to the Zion Canyon Narrows. Watchman Trail is a moderate, 2-mile round trip with a 456 foot elevation change.
At the University Inn, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as hard boiled eggs, hot oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, pastries, toast, coffee, tea, milk and juice.
We’ll gather in a classroom with our instructor who will present a lecture on the geology, ecology, flora and fauna of Southern Utah. Through this presentation, we’ll gain a greater understanding of the incredible formations we will explore during the week. We’ll then check out of the Inn, and transfer by motorcoach to Zion National Park for field trips led by our instructor. For our first hiking field trip, we’ll stop at the Temple of Sinawava, a natural amphitheater and the trailhead for the Riverside Walk. From here, we walk on a fairly level, paved trail that follows the course of the Virgin River deep into the heart of Zion Canyon, viewing spring lines that provide water for lush hanging gardens and the home of the endangered Zion snail. Our instructor will provide information about the Virgin River and Zion Canyon’s geology and plant habitat along the way.
On the trail, we’ll have box lunches including a sandwich, chips, cookie and fruit.
Next, we’ll proceed by park shuttle to the Zion Visitor Center, the starting point for the Watchman Trail hike. The Watchman Trail was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and completed in 1934. The trail winds along the foothills of Bridge Mountain, concluding near the Watchman, a mountain that rises to a height of 6,545 feet. Once known as Flanigan’s Peak, it was renamed because it “watches over” the park. Along the way, we’ll be able to see a number of Zion landmarks including the evocatively named Altar of Sacrifice, Beehives, Towers of the Virgin, and West Temple. We’ll then return via motorcoach to our hotel for time to freshen up and relax before our dinner in town.
At a local restaurant, we will enjoy a plated meal with a choice of main dishes such as pasta, chicken, trout, meatloaf, salad, side dishes and dessert. Coffee, tea (iced/hot), sodas and water are provided; other beverages are available for purchase.