After admiring the beauty of the Bryce Canyon National Park, we headed for one of the parks that I didn’t know a lot about, but knew that we couldn’t skip; Zion National Park. And god am I glad that we didn’t skip it.
This park can be found in Utah and is known for the many great hikes. Unlike Bryce Canyon or Grand Canyon it doesn’t have any viewpoints you can drive to, you just have to walk through nature to see the beauty. So walk we did!
For the first time on our trip we were confronted with the fact that we weren’t the only tourists visiting this area. The previous days we had of course come across plenty of people but it had never felt crowed. In Zion National Park on the other hand, we suddenly had a very hard time trying to find a parking spot. Everything was full so we eventually just drove to right outside the park and left our car parked alongside the road. There is a lot of parking available out of the park and there is a bus shuttle that takes you from the town of Springdale to the entrance. So don’t worry if you can’t find a parking space in Zion itself.
Inside the park, you can also take the shuttle bus to get to different stops and hiking points. This bus goes quite often so it’s never too crowded. It worked perfectly in my opinion and the roads are also very beautiful so it’s definitely worth it to just take the bus all the way around the park to admire the views. The bus driver also gave a bit of extra info about the park as we drove through it.
In Zion National Park there are many wonderful hikes, but with our time being limited to only one day, we sadly had to choose. I would have loved to do the Angels Landing hike to see the beautiful view over the park, but my dad has a great fear of heights and since towards the end you’re walking on a narrow path with nothing but steep cliffs around you, it wasn’t very advisable.
Instead we took the Canyon Overlook Trail which can be found outside the east entrance of the park, right before the second tunnel. This hike takes about one hour to complete and is a 1,6km roundtrip. At the end of the trail you get a marvelous view over the canyon. The best time to take the hike would be in the morning as the sun is then shining on the canyon. But even with the sun in a bad place it was still so breathtakingly beautiful.
But the first hike we took that day was the Riverside Walk. This is a very easy hike on a paved path which goes –shocker- along the river. It’s a beautiful walk through nature but nothing all that spectacular. It’s a 3,5km roundtrip which should take about 1,5 hour. We needed a little less time to complete it, so if you have a fast pace you definitely don’t need that hour and half.
Next up was the Weeping Rock Trail. This short hike of 0,6 km (roundtrip) is quite steep but it’s worth the little time it takes to get up there. The name of the trail reveals what you see; a weeping rock. The view on the canyon from underneath the rock is also pretty spectacular.
Our last hike was a combination of a few hikes. We didn’t really know how much time we would need for each, so we just started with the Lower Emerald Pool Trail. Once again the name reveals what you’re hiking to. This trail is quite easy and takes about an hour for the 1,9km round trip. Once you’re at the Lower Emerald Pools, you can go even further to the Upper Emeral Pools. This trial is slightly more heavy and requires some climbing over rocks, but the views are definitely worth it. This trail takes an extra hour round trip for 1,6 km. So for both trails together, you should allow about two hours. We did it in a little less, once again because we had quite a fast pace.
Once back at the Lower Emeral Pool Trail, you can choose to go back down via the Lower Emerald Pool Trail but instead we opted to take the Kayenta Trail back down to have a different view. And that was definitely worth it. We were rewarded with some amazing canyon views and lovely flora. The entire trail is 3,2 km roundtrip and takes about two hours.
If I went again I would take the Kayenta trail first and go back via the Lower Emerald Pool trail. Now I felt like the beautiful views were constantly behind us instead of ahead of us. But by stopping and turning around to look behind us every once in a while that issue was easily solved. You do need to stand still sometimes to fully appreciate the beauty of this park.
Before departing on our trip I must admit that I didn’t really know what Zion National Park had to offer, but afterward I can only say that it was one of my favorite parks. The hikes are wonderful and the way everything is organized is just amazing. A park you definitely can’t miss when you’re in the neighborhood. And I do hope to go back one day, with different company, to head for Angel’s Landing!