Observation Point in Zion
“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.” – Brene Brown
Why This Peak?
Zion National Park in Utah is a very special place that Tami and TJ have both hiked before. Observation Point was the hike that one year ago was the turning point for Tami in reclaiming her life and then deciding to do 52 Peaks in 52 Weeks. We chose this hike because it has such special meaning and it is also the point in Zion with the best views. We will be joined on the hike by a large group of people who will be doing the Movara program with us this week. There is no doubt that this week will be one of the most memorable experiences of this year long journey.
Peak & Route Facts
Observation Point is the highest point in Zion National Park at an elevation of 6,508′ and has an iconic viewpoint of Angel’s Landing. Many famous pictures that are taken of Zion National Park are taken looking over the edge of Observation Point.
The hike is 4 miles with 2,333′ of elevation gain. The steepest part of the trail is in the first mile and a half of switchbacks starting from the same shuttle stop in Zion as Weeping Rock. Halfway through the hike are rock ravines that make for beautiful pictures. The hike takes about 3-5 hours but it is well worth the effort. In all my hiking, Observation Point is one of my all time favorite hikes.
Historical and Cultural Information
Zion National Park is located in the Southwestern United States, near Springdale, Utah. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (590 km2) park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest elevation is 3,666 ft (1,117 m) at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 ft (2,660 m) at Horse Ranch Mountain. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park’s unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park’s four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches.
Human habitation of the area started about 8,000 years ago with small family groups of Native Americans; the semi-nomadic Basketmaker Anasazi(300 CE) stem from one of these groups. In turn, the Virgin Anasazi culture (500 CE) developed as the Basketmakers settled in permanent communities. A different group, the Parowan Fremont, lived in the area as well. Both groups moved away by 1300 and were replaced by the Parrusits and several other Southern Paiute subtribes. Mormons came into the area in 1858 and settled there in the early 1860s. In 1909 the President of the United States, William Howard Taft, named the area a National Monument to protect the canyon, under the name of Mukuntuweap National Monument. In 1918, however, the acting director of the newly created National Park Service changed the park’s name to Zion, the name used by the Mormons. The United States Congress established the monument as a National Park on November 19, 1919.