National Park Guide: Zion

Zion at a Glance:

Zion National Park is home to some gorgeous Jurassic Park-like scenery and some awesome, yet pain inducing, hikes. This isn’t quite a fair statement due to two reasons: I was drastically and pathetically out of shape upon arrival, and I chose to do the most strenuous hike for my first hike. Yes, I brought this upon myself.

Back to Zion. Great views, great landscape and some really fun hikes if you are up for it.

zion

Types of Treks:

Zion has 9 stops along the shuttle route with varying degrees of hikes. There are Easy hikes, Moderate hikes, Strenuous hikes and no hikes at all, in which case you will get off the shuttle at the museum. The shuttle stops are 1. Visitor Center, 2. Museum, 3. Canyon Junction, 4. Court of the Patriarchs, 5. Zion Lodge, 6. The Grotto, 7. Weeping Rock, 8. Big Bend, 9. Temple of Sinawava.

You can access hikes at most of these stops and pick your hike based on level of difficulty and distance.

Must Do’s:

There are two hikes that you don’t want to miss: Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. They both happen to land on the ‘strenuous’ spectrum. If you are up for it–these are definitely worth it!

Angel’s Landing-

Angel’s Landing is a very scenic hiking trail with lots of greenery in the valley below. I was able to take in this view while wheezing over the edge for air. It’s a great hike, but definitely hard for the non-hikers.

 

Just waiting for a brachiosaurus to emerge.

There are 4 parts to Angel’s Landing:

  1. Long winding switchbacks
  2. Straightaways with slight incline
  3. Short, steep, narrow, harder switchbacks.
  4. The “This is where it gets REAL” part.

Part 4 is what will turn your legs into jelly, your palms into a sweaty mess and make your heart race a bit. This hike is not for the faint of heart nor for those who are afraid of heights.

The Narrows-

Although labeled as ‘strenuous’, The Narrows (I found) was a nice and different sort of hike. There is no incline but what makes this a bit difficult is that the hike is through the Virgin River. The water is cold and the rocks are slippery but the canyon walls are vast and incredible. It’s a hike like no other and one that is surely not to be missed!

zion

What to Bring:

Water. Always water. We traveled with a full water bottle and a 2 liter camel pack inside our backpacks and filled them up whenever possible. Salty snacks and snacks in general. Sunscreen. Sunglasses. Antibacterial Gel. Small First Aid kit. Backpack. Good hiking shoes.

For The Narrows: all of the above plus shoes for water. They tell you not to use water shoes, but I did and was fine. They also tell you that you need to rent all this water proof gear because the water is too cold, but I didn’t and was fine (though, I went in summer). A walking stick would be useful but not necessary. I survived without one, but almost ate it several times. It also gets cooler in The Narrows, so a jacket is nice to have at the beginning.

Things to know:

Entrance fee: $30 (or use your America the Beautiful Pass)

Campsites: Zion has 3 campsites in the National Park. The South Camp Ground ($20/night) fills between 9-noon with assignments starting at 7am (according to their site). Watchman ($20/night) is also popular, takes reservations and was sold out when I looked 2 weeks in advance of our trip. Lava Point (primitive I think, but free) was further than the others by an hour and a half and does not take reservations.

For more options around Zion, click here —> where to camp in the Wild West.

Water: Is available at the Visitor Center, Museum, Zion Lodge, The Grotto and Temple of Sinawava.

Permits are needed for backcountry travel.

For more information and park updates, check out NPS.

 

 

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