View of Angel's Landing from Observation Point
View of Angel’s Landing from Observation Point

By Friday morning we knew we had to start working our way back home. But we didn’t want to leave Zion without at least one more hike! We chose Observation Point since it was one of the few canyon hikes that we hadn’t yet done.

The Observation Point trail starts at the Canyon bottom at the Weeping Rock trailhead. It climbs 2500 ft in a little under 4 miles to an outcropping on the rim of the canyon. A handful of switchbacks climb to the junction with the Hidden Canyon trail before continuing up to Echo Canyon. We had hiked this trail in the past, so everything beyond the junction would be new to us.

Trailhead sign map
Trailhead sign map

Eventually the switchbacks stop and the trail passes through a dark canyon. I loved this stretch!

Trail through the canyon between switchback sets
Trail through the canyon between switchback sets

After the gorgeous canyon stretch, the trail to Observation Point splits off from the East Rim trail and starts switchbacking again. It climbs another 1000 ft before contouring just below the edge of the rim until the outcropping that marks Observation Point.

View from Observation Point
View from Observation Point

The view from Observation Point is nothing short of spectacular. After the steady climb up 2500 ft of switchbacks, sitting back and catching your breath while looking down the canyon is a welcome break. We looked at the little ants on Angel’s Landing, and shooed away the army of chipmunks that were trying to steal our snacks.

Hiking back down the trail. Crowds just around the corner.
Hiking back down the trail. Crowds just around the corner.

Apparently this is a popular trail, but we were able to enjoy the entire hike up and viewpoint to ourselves. That’s the advantage to starting early, I suppose! We were already well down the trail before running into more hikers on their way up. Shortly after the first pair we saw more, then more, then more. We probably passed 50 people on our way down. Now I was really thankful for the early start.

Looking down on the first set of switchbacks
Looking down on the first set of switchbacks

After the hike we reluctantly left the park and started our way back to California along highway 15. But there was one more stop for us to make – Gold Butte, Nevada.

Gold Butte is a BLM area on the north side of Lake Mead, just east of Valley of Fire. I had researched the area in the past and was interested in poking around some of the roads and canyons. We didn’t have a lot of time but I thought it would be worth at least checking out the sites along the main drag. We could also dispersed camp out there for the night.

To get there, you take New Gold Butte road out of Mesquite, NV, for quite a ways. After about 20 miles the pavement gives way to dirt at a place called Whitney Pockets. There are all kinds of cool red rock formations  here.

We took the road another 20 miles to the site of the town of Gold Butte, now gone but small signs of habitation are evident. We met a friendly ATV family camped out there who showed us some interesting stuff, including an ancient arrastre complete with grinding rock.

Arrastre in Gold Butte. And David's foot. No waypoint for this one, sorry.
Arrastre in Gold Butte. And David’s foot. No waypoint for this one, sorry.

Other interesting things we saw before the sun went down included a giant sinkhole and some petroglyphs. There was a specific glyph I was hunting for, one called the Falling Man. It is unique and different than any other known human figured petroglyph.

Giant sinkhole in Gold Butte
Giant sinkhole in Gold Butte
"The Falling Man" Petroglyph
“The Falling Man” Petroglyph

We found a campsite tucked behind a pile of red rock and settled in for the night. Saturday morning we got up early and hit the road to finish the drive home. I’d love to get back into the Gold Butte area and do some more exploring. It looks like there is a lot to see!

 

View from Camp near Whitney Pockets
View from Camp near Whitney Pockets
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