Continental US

Watchman Trail, Lesser Known Zion – Kolob Canyons and Quick Stop at Salt Lake City

Our last morning at Zion, we drove to Zion Museum to photograph the sunrise of the Towers of the Virgin. Contrast to sunset where over 20+ photographers squeezing on a bridge, there were only two photographers there and I was the third one to arrive. The parking lot at Zion Museum:


The view of the Watchman at the Zion Museum parking lot:

I ran to the back and just in time for the sunrise action to start as the sunlight turned the rock to burning orange! The Towers of Virgin at sunrise:

After the sunrise, we went back to the hotel for a quick breakfast and then checked out. We had a morning to spend at Zion so we decided to hike the Watchman Tower. We parked at the visitor center where the trailhead located and show some deers.

Here we go! The Watchman Trail is a 2 miles roundtrip easy hike….

The first section of the trail was relatively flat that get you across the parking lot to the base of the mountain. The split rock:

And then a zig-zag road up the mountain, it seemed much longer than 1 mile!

The views were mostly the mountain that you are trying to wrap around and occasionally a view like this below. The mountain range on the background was where we photograph the sunrise of the Towers of the Virgin.

A rock chair!!!!

This disk-like layered rock looked so weird, will it ever fall off?

After this mountain, you’ll need to walk across to another mountain so more to go but relatively flat.

We arrived, the view was pretty nice!

The road below that we traveled numerous time 🙂

Taken from our phone, a panorama:

After Watchman Trail, we drove to the lesser known section of Zion – the Kolob Canyons. We just did the scenic drive and didn’t do any hiking trail as we still have a long way back to Salt Lake City. The scenic drive had a few pullouts but some views are blocked by trees so we only stopped at the ones with unobstructed views. At Kolob Canyon, you’ll see a lot of slanted rock formation:

Kolob Canyon:

And we saw people riding their horses there!!

The only road in and out of the canyon:

After the canyon, we started our long 4.5 hours drive back to Salt Lake City. It was a Sunday so a lot of restaurants along the way are closed 🙁 The only Asian restaurant I found open was Hong Kong Buffet in Cedar City. The food was typical Americanized Chinese buffet, edible…for a total of $27 for two of us. We filled up gas and resume our journey to Salt Lake City. It was our second time in Salt Lake City but haven’t had a chance to check out the city so we made a quick stop at the Temple Square.

The beautiful castle-like building here is the Assembly Hall:

Interior of the hall:

We also went in Salt Lake Tabernacle to have some photos:

The beautiful Salt Lake Temple:

There are few visitor centers on each side of the square that you can go in to check it out and use the restrooms!

The shell-shaped fountain:

The Reflecting Pool, I wonder if those floating bubbles will light up at night?

We did a short walk up to Utah State Capitol Building that we saw on our way to Temple Square. Across from the Capitol Building is the Council Hall:

Here, the beautiful Utah State Capitol Building, how come our Boston City Hall looked nothing like this?

Don’t forget to check the interior of the building, I was surprised that we can just walk in without going through any security!!! The interior was like a palace, woah!

The center dome:


There were only a handful of visitors and also a family having their family portrait session. If I live in Salt Lake, I will bring my clients here for photo session too!

Look at how tiny I am compared to the structure!

Once we were finished with the building, it was about time for sunset! Since the sun set behind the mountain and covered with clouds, I didn’t expect a colorful sunset.

The lights turned on at night:

On our walk back to Temple Square, the sky turned color OMG!!!

We started to run back to the Reflection Pool, it must be spectacular but we got stuck at the traffic light….come on pedestrian light!!! I was very anxious that I will miss it!!! Look at the dramatic colors of the cloud…wait for me!!!

After the pedestrian light came on, I ran; I haven’t run so fast in years OMG! The dramatic colors were almost gone by the time I reached the Reflection Pool but some shades of purple and pink left…still beautiful!

Once again, the Assembly Hall with lights on, I really like this building it’s so cute!

Our flight was at 11:59 PM so we have time to have a dinner before heading to the airport. We had our dinner at CY Noodles House located inside the Chinatown Supermarket. After days of not so flavorful and expensive meal, we finally had delicious and inexpensive Sichuan cuisine. The “water boil fish” dish was huge; it was the biggest plate I have ever seen! The hand-pulled noodle soup was great too. The kunming lamb was stir-fried instead of deep fried but still tasted good. The awesome dinner only cost $49! I wish Boston has quality and inexpensive Sichuan restaurant like this one….with much more Chinese population, I don’t get why Chinese food in Boston is so bad!

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