As many of you know I have the dream/goal of visiting 10 national parks this year. On a recent trip out west, I visited 5 national parks between Nevada, Arizona and Utah. My favorite out of all the National Parks was Zion National Park. It is out of this world! I felt like I was on a remote planet. The climate and terrain are completely different from my home state of Florida. Utah culture is not at all like the Miami Beach culture. Way Different! But that’s what was so attractive about the whole place. I was transported into the most natural and contrasting environment. I loved every inch of Zion and every second I was there.
To get to Zion, Alex and I flew into Las Vegas and rented a camper van from EscapeCamperVans.com. (Full post and video to come about this great company.) We drove the van from Vegas to Zion National Park which was about 2.5 hours and 160 miles away. It was a gorgeous drive. It transitioned from the desert of Nevada to the canyons of Arizona and then into the majestic beauty of Zion. This area of southwest Utah is very dry at the high elevations. But in the valley, rivers flow and lush forests grow. (It’s so beautiful the thought of it makes me rhyme!) The landscape is enchanting. There are so many different animals and plants. Its half desert and half woodsy mountains. You will see, all in one glance, a chipmunk beside a flowering cactus under a pine tree beside an emerald colored pond filled with tiny frogs. Picture that! Oh wait, you don’t have to. Live vicariously through my pictures.
The biggest features of Zion is the campground, lodge, and shuttle to get you anywhere you need to go. The campground is very well kept along with bathrooms and sinks to do your dishes. Just outside the campsite is a lodge area with a few hotels, a general store, an adorable coffee shop, a brewery/restaurant, a gear rental store, laundry mat and SHOWERS! It was $4 for a 5 minute warm shower. It was all the comfort you needed after a long day of hiking, followed by dinner next to the campfire. At night, the climate stays dry but cools down quite a bit. A normal day in May (when I visited) the weather was a drastic high of 79 and a low of 43. Yup, 43 degrees F. Pack an extra blanket and find a cuddle partner.
Aside from hanging out at the beautiful campsite surrounded by mountains, there is tons to do inside the park. There is a free shuttle that takes you to all the trails and sights. The shuttles leave from the visitor’s center and stops at each stop every 10 minutes.
The biggest hikes and attractions are Angels Landing, Canyon Overlook, The Emerald pools, and the Narrows.
Angels landing is a strenuous 5 mile hike where at some points the train is only 2 feet wide leading to a plateau with 800 ft drops on either side. If you are brave enough to attempt the steep uphill climb, the 6000ft view is worth it! You may even make a new chipmunk friend when you make it to the top! Yes, they are lap chipmunks.
Canyon Overlook is a beautiful easy trailhead that takes you to a 2200 ft view above the canyon floor. It also gives you a view of the “Great Arch” which is a nature made cliff recess on the side on the Sandstone Mountains.
The Emerald Pools are just what you can imagine. This gentle hike is a slightly sloped 3 mile hike. If you hike to the very end you will find pretty waterfalls trickling into pools of emerald green. If you sit on one of the giant boulders beside the highest pool and close your eyes, you will find the deepest sound of silence. (Aside from the occasional frog croak) The pools are filled with frogs
(This view is so deceiving. It looks like a puddle, but it was really a huge pool. About 100 foot wide. Find the grown man in the yellow shirt in the background for some perspective.)
The most popular hike in Zion is The Narrows. This one was my most treasured memorable hike. We did around 10 miles through the narrows. The entire time you are wading through the Virgin River. It only look us about 2 hours to reach the famous “Wall Street” where the canyon narrows so much you can almost touch each side. The only catch is, you are hiking through freezing cold water the entire time. Bring your water proof hiking shoes. At some points the river was up to my waist. But the views of the narrow canyons was worth any injury or shivering I may have endured. Be wary, flash floods are very common in this area. Always check the weather before hiking. If there is any chance, do not hike the Narrows.
Overall I would give Zion a 9 out of 10. I only wish they had showers at the campsite. That’s the only thing I would change. Otherwise, it is one of greatest places on earth. I am so thankful to the National Parks Service for all they do to preserve the beauty of this wonderful country.