For as long as I’ve loved photography, it’s always been a dream of mine to see Zion National Park! So before my crazy wedding season began this summer, my boyfriend and I drove all the way from Eugene, Oregon to Zion National Park, Utah. It was a long 15 hours, but so worth it. While arriving at Zion, all we could do was point in every direction as we were completely amazed. Don’t get me wrong, I love Oregon and all the lush greens here, but the deep rich colors of reds and oranges all over Zion were breathtaking. I recently purchased a new, a Subaru Crosstrek, and we had to break it in with this epic road trip.
We stayed in Zion Campground, in Springdale, Utah. This campground was an amazing place to stay. It was kept incredibly clean, free wifi, free showers…nothing gets better than free showers after being in 110 degree heat all day! The best part about the Zion campground, our tent site was about 25 feet away from the Virgin River, which runs straight through Zion National Park. Each day we were in Zion, we spent most of our afternoons escaping the heat by taking naps in our camping chairs in the river, or renting tubes and floating down the river. After our long hikes throughout the mornings, the last thing we wanted to do was cook hotdogs over the hot fire, so we decided to check out the town of Springdale, which is the town walking distance from the Park. We ended up at Wildcat Willies Ranch Grill & Saloon. That place had such an awesome atmosphere, great food, and an amazing Bumbleberry Margarita! I was pretty darn happy about that.
Zion is known for their incredible hikes and places to see! The first day, we just set up tent, and drove around through the park and experienced the view.
Day 2: We got up at 4:30am, and headed out for the Narrows. The Narrows is best explained as a river hike throughout the most narrow Canyon of Zion. This hike was unlike something I’ve ever seen before. I HIGHLY recommend bringing or renting water shoes, water socks and a walking stick. We had NONE of the above, so our feet got cold pretty quick. Every time we reached a bend in the river, I’d run up to see what the view would be!
Day 3: We woke up again at 4:30 am to hike Angels Landing. This hike is intense to say the least, especially compared to the Narrows. The start of the hike didn’t seem so bad, just a slight incline, then you reach the beginning of 21 treacherous switchbacks. I definitely had to stop a few times! Once we reached the “almost” top, there was a nice big flat area to hang out, eat a snack, drink some water, even use the restroom. From there, you have the option to hike the last stretch to reach Angels Landing...of course we had to! We had come too far! This part was a bit more intense. It’s an extremely narrow .5 mile hike to the top, with chains on the rocks for you to hold on to. Imagine hiking up a mountain, on a cliff side, and holding this chain with your dear life. But once we reached the top, it was AMAZING. You could see all of Zion. We happened to be there as the sun was rising, and it was too good to be true.
This trip was more than a vacation for me. I’m a wedding photographer from Oregon, so being in such a new place, was so visually and mentally inspiring. I took every second possible to soak in the beauty. I cannot wait to go back and explore more trails next time!______
Dawn Piebenga photographs Weddings, Elopements, and Portraits. Her style of photography is inspired by adventure, the outdoors, and exploring. She plans to travel the world, and photograph couples madly in love, in epic places.
To view more of Dawn's work, visit her here.