Walking The US National Parks – By Guest Blogger Jo Rolls From Explore
Walking The US National Parks
As a tour leader for Explore for nearly five years, I was incredibly lucky to lead some fantastic walking tours from the easier, more picturesque trails, of Crete and Cyprus to the more strenuous and harsh environments of Kilimanjaro. Once I moved into the office I still maintained that interest in our walking tours and have since walked the Lycian Way, sailed and walked the Island of Evia, and now have the great pleasure of finding new destinations and creating walking tours from scratch.
Walking is such a wonderful way to see a country. Ground level, whether that be along the coast, through a forest or up a mountain, gives you an insight into an area that driving around in a bus just can’t give you. That feeling of the elements on your face – hopefully, warm sunshine, but even cold winds or lashing rain – makes you feel alive and aware and in touch with the nature that surrounds you. One such place, where this statement never felt truer, is on top of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park – part of the new Explore Walking the Western US National Parks tour.
Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park
Walking the Western US National Parks takes you to five of the most beautiful national parks in America; Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park and Canyonlands – all spectacular settings with a wealth of superb walking/hiking trails for you to explore.
I am very grateful for my lot in life and the opportunity to walk in all of the above parks. Grand Canyon blows you away with its sheer enormity and Bryce Canyon is bizarrely beautiful with the strange “hoodoo” rock formations and its stunning colour changes during sunrise and sunset.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Canyonlands and Arches wow you with gravity-defying natural rock bridges and weaving canyons but, for me, it is Zion National Park that is the jewel in the US national parks crown.
Arches National Park
The walks I have featured in the new tour are two of the best hikes I have ever completed. I only wish there had been more days available to put in others! Angel’s Landing, mentioned previously, takes your breath away, both for the exertion required and sheer striking scenery. Not for the faint-hearted, there are some pretty stunning drops on the final stages up to Angel’s Landing itself, but to reach the top and stand looking out over the whole of the Zion Canyon beneath you is a feeling not to miss.
The Narrows, Zion Canyon National Park
The Narrows is completely different but equally stunning, just in different ways. Following a meandering river along the bed of a narrow slot canyon, The Narrows is only accessible during good weather and takes you, at times, into the river itself. The sheer walls of the canyon rise up around you and whereas Angels Landing gives you that “on top of the world” feeling, The Narrows can make you feel very small and humble in amongst its towering beauty.
If neither walk appeals to you then the hop-on/hop-off park bus that stops at all the other trailheads in the park (the same in Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon too) is a great way to explore this amazing landscape.
It is absolutely no wonder that so many Americans chose to holiday at home when you have grandeur and spectacular scenery on the scale that you will experience on this new tour.
- 26th August 2017