On October 4, 2020, we packed up and moved to Zion Wright Family Ranch Campground about ten miles northeast of Virgin, Utah. The Wright Family has owned the ranch and eco-camp for six generations.
Don’t expect a staffed office for check-in or restrooms. Just drive through the fence opening, find a spot near a campfire ring that’s not already occupied, and set up. Oh, and pick a site away from the road and position your unit to avoid drifting sand from vehicles roaring down the dusty road.
Porta-Potties are the only other amenity available. We can’t vouch for their cleanliness since we preferred our onboard facilities. Be prepared like a Scout with plenty of water, food, and fuel. It’s a long way back to town.
Amenities were not what attracted us to the place. Our goal was to enjoy the clear star-gazing skies and find a hike or two. We were not disappointed on either account.
The sky our first night was amazing. It had been decades since I’d seen the Milky Way so full of stars. It looked as though I could reach out and touch it. The big dipper hung above the horizon while we munched s’mores, dripping chocolate and marshmallow all over our hands. I can still picture in my mind all the stars, constellations, and Milky Way when I think of that night.
The next day we found two hikes to keep us busy. The first was Lamb’s Knoll, a popular cayoneering site in the Kolob Terrace area of Zion National Park.
We lacked the gear and knowledge to scale any of the boulders and cliffs, so we hiked around them and through slot canyons. On the backside of the knoll, we found a beautiful view of the valley below.
The second hike was the Left Fork Trailhead that leads to the Subway. The entire trail to the Subway and back is nine miles, which was too strenuous and long for us after our time at Lamb’s Knoll.
The Subway is rated a semi-technical slot canyon hike that requires hikers to wade and swim through the river, scramble over boulders, and climb down waterfalls. For hikers wanting to go all the way to The Subway, they must pick up permits at one of the Zion NP visitor centers.
We stayed on the well-maintained trail that passed through pine trees, shrubs, and prickly pear until we reached the technical part, which was a steep descent into the valley. We stopped to take in the views and watch a couple navigate up the cliff.
On our way back to the parking lot, a wrong turn led us on a half-mile or so detour down a dry riverbed between canyon walls, then back again until we found the correct turnoff.
No one was interested in cooking dinner after our hard work of hiking, so we drove into Hurricane for a Mexican dinner at Las Lupitas Mexican Grill. We’re always on the lookout for good Mexican food, and Lupitas fit the bill.
A layer of thin clouds foiled our expectation for a repeat of the celestial skies of the previous night. That was okay with us. We enjoyed another night around the campfire before it was time for bed.
The morning we left, I woke up early enough to capture this colorful sunrise.
Coming up, we pull into Hitch-N-Post Campground in Panguitch, Utah, our base camp for Bryce National Park and Red Canyon State Park.