Zion - West Rim Loop...........in July????


Feb 7, 2015
Three things about me. I don't even think I qualify as a "weekend" warrior. I sit on my ass most days. I have an accountants Need to account for ....to make list....to tick off said list. I have been playing Pokémon (only to share experience with the boys.....ha) so I have a "Gotta Catch Them All" mentality. I recently was introduced to Caltopo, so of course I had to prepare a map of all the adventures I have had in Zion National Park.

Zion Map.jpg

I have been saying for a few years now that I have hiked all the trails in Zion but something jumped out at me above. "I haven't done Telephone Canyon." I can be forgiven for this as this is only a 2 mile stretch of trail, that doesn't exactly go away and is in the middle of nowhere. I not only must add it to my list but I MUST tick it off. If I don't it will be my White Whale. It would make a great late season adventure but I had just told my doctor that "it is too easy for me to come up with reasons Not to get out." So damn the heat. Who cares that bagging Telephone Canyon required a 15 mile hike and 3,100 of elevation gain. Just add it to the list of "signs of senility" that I have encouraged the boys to keep on me. I'm going TODAY.

I wanted to catch the 1st shuttle at 6:00 AM but it was pulling away as I walked up. It was sort of chilly standing there waiting with the already accumulating masses for the 2nd shuttle. It was a mocking chill. A seductive chill. I know I am doing a full day in Zion......in July. Hitting the trail at 6:30 AM the canyon begins to wake up.


The exertion of the climb up to Scouts Lookout beats down the comfort of that alluring chill. That said, I sure did appreciate the come hither quality to the start of the day. Sort of like leading a lamb to slaughter....but is that too negative?


My next goal is to get "up there". I will find myself on the inverted cone thingy later in the day.

As the storyteller I must be forthright. I had to pee, so I went up this drainage a bit to do my business. "Oh look a raspberry bush" I state as I look around. "Hey look at those!!!"


Back on the trail jazzed at seeing the Columbines. I wouldn't have seen those in the fall.....or if I didn't need to pee.

I spent a bit of time today thinking of Canyoneers and what they go through simply to get to where they drop into a canyon. This is the access route to Behunin Canyon.

Now to get up this friggin' wall. The main reason I was positive that I would never be doing this trail south to north......in July.

Some bonus Columbines

Finally to the top. It was at this moment that I discovered I had been shooting in ISO 3200. "What the hell!"

The worst of the climb over I was met with a wildflower show that I didn't even consider a possibility. Have I said it is Zion....in July? I guess the West Rim truly is a magical place. I had to decide how to do my loop. I decided to do it clockwise for no other reason than getting the best light for the views that I knew were coming up ahead.


Looking down Behunin

I was so afraid that wouldn't be able to capture these tiny blue and purple Penstomen. They were everywhere


Islands in the Sky - Zion style. Inaccessible and closed to public (I believe) in most cases

I knew the next canyoneering route that needed an access route was Heaps. I hadn't done any research but I knew it dropped off the West Rim somewhere so I kept my eyes out for cairns.

I had Sego Lily galore. These aren't past prime duds but spry and lush. Needed to be July to see this. (Can you tell I was reassuring myself all day?)


This canyon is probably more Heaps-adjacent

I did find one cairn near Campsite 4. I tried to see a "trail" or a logical way down but......I couldn't see it. But that wasn't my goal so why should Brigadoon present itself to me.

South Guardian Angel shows itself, with North Guardian peaking out on the right.



I am not positive what this is but this is the best specimen of it I have ever seen. Yet again, to being here in Zion.....July. I have always felt the brittle/crustiness was due to it being later in the year when I see them but this sucker is bright and lush and it is still crusty to the touch. Like potato chips. So freakin' cool!

I thought the random pocket of green trees was fascinating.

I was surprised to find it lead to a huge drop off. Serious canyons radiate from every direction on the compass out here. It is a mess!



The Right Fork. Another canyoneering route that has to be access from up here.....somewhere. A part of me wants to show respect for canyoneers. Another part can't come close to understand them. They go through SO MUCH just to reach the starting point of their adventure. Meanwhile I walked up the Right Fork drainage, a few years back, until I hit Barrier Falls that I couldn't get up. There is a kinship that in this case literally "meets in the middle."

I call this the "Divide" separating the upper reaches of the Right Fork and the Left Fork (Subway)

I would not be doing this day justice if I did not say that by this point my legs were actually giving me pain. Was it my weakass condition? The heat? Water? Nutrition? Whatever, I had my left thigh that didn't like going down hill and my right thigh that didn't like going up hill. It would be comical if only.......no, it is comical. It actually felt good to sit in a fetal position. To high step for awhile. It seemed to respond to rest....which only makes the day longer. As I have mentioned to the boys over the years "The only way we will get back to the car is to keep moving."


Finally I get to Telephone Canyon. My 2 mile (thankfully downhill) stretch. It felt like no other trail in Zion. Just a nice pleasant hike through the bush/scrub, small pocket forests. No grand walls to distract. Just a nice, overgrown trail. It felt tick-y. Not sure why anyone would choose to come this way when you have the grand West Rim, but for a person like me it was a fine way to spend an hour or so.


I took my shot of this Sego grouping and walked off. Then I went "they deserve more attention than that!" and walked back. Which of course aggravated the other thigh.

I didn't exactly prayer to them, that would be weird. But I did give them a moment of humble gratitude.

Please note the bee in this shot. It is wallowing in drunken bliss in this cactus.



I bushwacked my way over to the repel point where canyoneers drop down in Telephone Canyon. Which gets me to the inverted cone that I referred to so very long ago.



To pass this deer I had to get within 5 feet of it? That was kind of neat.

In preparation for my trip down the Wall I sat down on a rock pretty much in the trail. With my knees pulled up to my chest. A couple girls came by. "Do you have room to get by?" I ask. "Yes" they answered.

See the pink cliffs far in the distance

Looking up to where I was. Telephone Canyon drops on the left.

Looking up the direction of the Imlay Sneak Route. This day was full of canyoneering references.

At some point muscle fatigue seemed to supersede the knotting pain. This didn't allow me to go any faster but it was a nice change.

Come on now!!!! Zion is simply the definition of "awe".




Getting back to Scouts Lookout (below Angels Landing) was a highlight. I won't say I was close to tears but I knew I was going to be in shade the rest of the day and that felt so righteously pleasant. This lady, who looked like she was dreading the hike back to the Grotto.....she appeared so out of place in this environment, asked me how I was doing. I must have looked a bit haggard. I croaked out "I'm okay". She asked "Do you have water?" "Not an abundance but enough to get me down." to where I knew a faucet full of water awaited.


The light made that future arch (or more probably huge rockslide) really pop


The veiled, misty side lighting made the view from the bridge.....glorious.

Of course I came off the trail thinking "I'm done!!! I'm too old for this shit. Glacier this August must be scaled back." But here I sit a couple days later. I might only be a blue moon warrior but dammit I am still a warrior. And Zion.....in July? Could have used another liter of water. Tick Telephone Canyon off the list and add it to the map!!!!!!!!!
Congrats, very impressive @chandlerwest ! Back in September you did a similar distance Needles hike in very hot weather with @Scott Chandler, so you are definitely a warrior. How are your legs feeling now a few days later?
Great photos, incredible views and the Sego Lily is just gorgeous, very exotic looking. I had no idea that's the state flower of Utah. Maybe @Brendan S or @Yvonne can help us identify the other flower with the pale pink flowers and sage green leaves, I couldn't find it anywhere, curious what it is.
Congrats, very impressive @chandlerwest ! Back in September you did a similar distance Needles hike in very hot weather with @Scott Chandler, so you are definitely a warrior. How are your legs feeling now a few days later?
Great photos, incredible views and the Sego Lily is just gorgeous, very exotic looking. I had no idea that's the state flower of Utah. Maybe @Brendan S or @Yvonne can help us identify the other flower with the pale pink flowers and sage green leaves, I couldn't find it anywhere, curious what it is.
The best my brother and I have come up with on the pale pink plant is a Sandpuff. And the crispy pink is the fruit of the plant. My legs are still tight but well enough not to be discouraged about Glacier in August.
Super TR and pics! The beta on telephone is really great as I have thought about but never made that loop . Now I probably will!
Ok...yeah...that was awesome! Loved that narration, loved the pics! That is one rad looking succulent that I've never seen anything like before. Nor have I seen columbines of that color out in the wild before. And those segos, icing on the cake! Your pain was worth it. This winter/spring obviously did some amazing wonders for Zion in July, as it has for so many other parts of the state. And now I find myself again questioning why I keep postponing a first time visit to Zion. I think I need to make that happen between no and next year.