The canyons outside Zion National Park offer incredible hiking, horseback riding, and rock climbing opportunities.
The air smelled like hot dust and cool pine trees. For a time, the canyon was soundless, except for the click-clacking of our carabiners. Unthinkably far below lay the silvery ribbon of Kolob Creek, a tributary of the Virgin River, which carved the mighty main canyon of Zion.
We paused, halfway or so along our route, to take in one of the hanging gardens, where an overhang of “weeping rock” creates a microclimate—a bright green, mossy efflorescence tucked into the side of the canyon. The occasional tree gave me pause, too: some little specimen asserting itself from the side of the rock face, flourishing against all odds.
Our route ended in a 100-foot vertical ascent that, in a mild fit of masochism, I resolved to climb without stopping. Breathless and triumphant at the top, I then followed Wright out to a terrifying overhang of rock where he encouraged me to lean back and let go.