Watchman Trail

Monday, August 25

I’d like to go hiking today, but I’m just not feeling ambitious enough to drive anywhere. Luckily, I live at a national park, and good hiking with amazing views can be found right here with next to no effort.


My first stop is to park at the visitor’s center and walk down to the river. There’s a good temperature difference between where I am at the top of the east side of the park where it’s 76 degrees, and down along the river in the canyon where it’s 88. I take off my sandals and step in, aaaaah, that’s nice.

Just upstream a little bit and across the way I some other folks enjoying the river, and barely visible up that way on the other bank are tents. Huh, I didn’t realize the campgrounds were on the water, I wonder which one this is.

It’s South Campground, the first come, first served one. No showers to be had here, but the river running along the back of the campground is a big plus, there are access points for campers who sites don’t border it themselves. Most of the sites have good shade from cottonwood trees, which I’d almost call a necessity for camping here in the summer as warm as it gets at this lower elevation. The sites opposite the river are the ones I like least, they’re right up against the only road that runs through the park, and I have to think it’d be noisy as much traffic as Zion sees this time of year.


Up in one of the two camp hosting spots is a Casita, and it’s an earlier model like mine that has the A/C unit in the front instead of on top. No one is home, so I can’t further indulge my curiosity about the occupants.

There’s a trail that leads out into the desert starting at the campground called Watchman Trail, it’s 2.7 miles round trip out and back that climbs to the top of a nearby mesa and is said to give views of lower Zion canyon and Springdale. Works for me!


Aside from the heat, I love weather like today. It’s about 50/50 clouds and sun, which gives a neat dappling effect over the peaks, it’s hard to take a bad picture with lighting like this.


The trail climbs nearly 400 feet, winding up along the edge of the eastern side of the canyon to get atop the mesa and giving spectacular views of the western side. The canyon below is laid out in full, it’s easy to pick out the road, the campground, and the buildings that park service employees live in. The one thing that doesn’t turn out well is my picture of Springdale at the top, because it’s looking into the sun. Oh well.


The way back is much easier being all downhill. It sprinkles for a little bit and sunlight hits the rain and makes rays over the West Temple. A small brightly colored snake crosses the trail ahead of me, can anyone identify it? Prickly Pear cactus stand sentinel along the trail, a couple showing purplish buds that could be new growth or flowers. Just another glorious day in the desert.

For other articles on Zion National Park, see here.

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Gary on August 29, 2014 at 6:20 am

    I went through Zion last May. It’s a beautiful place for sure. You got some awesome shots and the dialogue is great as always. I had Jagger with me (my dog), so I didn’t get to go most places in Zion other than one trail and a drive by. Still worth the trip. Thanks for sharing you adventure. The snake I thought was a coral from the picture, glad it wasn’t. I am not sure they would live in that climate.
    Gary recently posted..Lolo Pass โ€“ Full of HistoryMy Profile

    • Becky on August 29, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      No, coral snakes don’t live in the desert fortunately. ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you had a chance to visit Gary and hopefully someday you’ll get to spend more time in the area.

  2. Jodee Gravel on August 28, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Your phone camera is rockin’ those photos – great eye!! Beautiful snake :-).
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..The Joy of LustMy Profile

    • Becky on August 29, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      Thanks Jodee!

  3. Dawn on August 27, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    What a great hike! Perfect length and great views! Thanks for taking us along.

    • Becky on August 28, 2014 at 10:26 am

      It was a great hike Dawn! You’re welcome.

  4. Rita on August 27, 2014 at 7:28 am

    That snake looked like a deadly coral snake at first, but then I remembered – “red on yellow, kill a fellow. Red on black, let him go back.”

    • Becky on August 27, 2014 at 11:24 am

      Yeah, it definitely wasn’t a coral snake. Hard to see in this photo perhaps but the red “stripes” faded into gold on the bottom. Very striking colors!

  5. jo on August 27, 2014 at 6:30 am

    Becky, soft, lovely photos and words to soothe me on this morning. Thank you.
    I finally head out tomorrow with my “packed” RV into my future full-time life. One day
    I trust our paths will cross. First, it’s an overnight along the Rio Grande near Taos
    at an idyllic spot where I have gathered sage for years…at last I’ll experience it throughout
    the night :). Then a stop in Colorado from where I will head for the East coast.

    • Becky on August 27, 2014 at 11:23 am

      Congrats Jo! You must be so excited. Best of luck to you on this new chapter of your life and yes, I’m sure we will meet on the road some day.

      Safe travels and happy trails!

  6. Terri on August 27, 2014 at 3:28 am

    Just the other day I was clearing out some of my stuff and came across my photos from my trip to Zion back in 2002/2003? Nice to see that some things in this world don’t change. Your photos are beautiful – have you ever thought of trying to sell some of them? ๐Ÿ™‚
    Terri recently posted..I want to do this..wait, no, thatโ€ฆwait, no this!!! (Decisions, decisions)My Profile

    • Becky on August 27, 2014 at 11:20 am

      I have, but selling photos takes a lot of worth for not a lot of pay. Maybe someday.

      Glad you’ve had a chance to see Zion before, it’s such a neat place!

  7. Sara on August 27, 2014 at 1:19 am

    I was contacted by Amazon and the main camperforce in Fernley won’t start until Nov.

    • Becky on August 27, 2014 at 11:01 am

      Communication has been particularly challenging this year, or maybe this is how Fernley site normally operates, I’m not sure. A lot of people have not gotten official word yet (me included). I am not going to say one way or another until I do…. but as I said above my earliest start date is still over a month off – a lot could change between now and then.

      • Sara on August 27, 2014 at 11:14 am

        Because of Amazon changing their NV site in the next year they are starting their camperforce in Nov but the camper scouts start mid Oct. See ya there in 2 months
        Sara recently posted..First Workamping JobMy Profile

        • Becky on August 28, 2014 at 10:28 am

          Sara, where is the official announcement for the site change? I’ve heard people talking about it on FB but I’d like to see something official put out by Amazon before I count it as anything more than a rumor.

          • Sara on August 28, 2014 at 11:36 am

            My friend Roger was contacted by Joni to start mid Oct as a camper scout. I got a voicemail from her confirming everyone else starting beginning of Nov. just “Google” Amazon…moving…Fernley …Reno. And you will come up with several news articles about the move all dating about Aug 17, 2014.

          • Sara on August 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm

            After writing my reply at 11:36a , I just got an email from my friend that he just got a call to start Sept 23. So I guess our start dates are still up in the air.

          • Becky on August 29, 2014 at 6:08 pm


            I just got a call from Amanda at Amazon this morning asking if I was still interested in a position, she said that Fernley’s CamperForce was due to start, and I quote: “early to mid October”.

            Thanks for the tip on the move, I’ve done more looking into it now.

  8. Craig on August 26, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Just wondering if you are still planning on working for Amazon in Fernley? Do you have a report date yet ?

    • Becky on August 27, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Yes I am Craig, and no I don’t have a report date yet. I remember my first year I didn’t get the call with the date until a week and a half beforehand, it’s still a month before my earliest arrival date.

  9. Dan Benson on August 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    I looked up the snake in your picture. I think it is a western Ground Snake.
    Enjoy your blog, keep it up.


    • Becky on August 27, 2014 at 10:51 am

      Thanks Dan. Learn something new every day. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. EmilyO on August 26, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    The purplish buds were flowers and now are “fruit”. The ground squirrels around here love them when they become ripe. We watch one sit on our fence and eat them, spines and all. If they are still flowers, they will become fruit, sometimes become another paddle.

    • Becky on August 27, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Ahh, thanks Emily! I saw a couple of them chewed up, I bet that was the ground squirrels. ๐Ÿ™‚

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