The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.Saint Augustine
About the Park
Zion National Park in southwestern Utah may contain the country’s most beautiful and scenic canyon. The expansive canyon averages 2,000 feet deep and offers a range of fantastic hiking opportunities, from high above at Angel’s Landing to the Narrows as you walk through the Virgin River.
Check out the view of Zion Canyon from Angel’s Landing!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- Start in the car and drive the Zion-Mt. Carmel Scenic Highway. This is one impressive drive!
- Hike the Narrows at the far end of the park. It is actually hiking in the Virgin River in a steep canyon
- The most exhilarating (and dangerous) hike is Angel’s Landing, but the 360 degree views standing 1500 feet above the valley are worth it
- Hike the cool Walter’s Wiggles section of trail that was named after a former park superintendent
- Make a stop to see the Checkerboard Mesa, it is definitely worth the stop
The highlight of our visit was hiking up to Scout’s Landing, including the trail’s famous Walter’s Wiggles section. There were so many beautiful viewpoints of Zion Canyon along the way, and we enjoyed talking with other hikers.
Size of Park
229 square miles
The name came from the Mormon pioneers, who arrived in the late 1800’s. The word ”Zion” comes from ancient Hebrew and means sanctuary or refuge.
Zion is one of the most iconic and remarkable National Parks in the United States. Situated in Southwestern Utah, near the town of Springdale, Zion National Park has an area of 229 sq miles and sits at an elevation of about 4000 feet above sea level. Zion National Park is a deep canyon that cuts through steep sandstone cliffs. These 2,000 feet sandstone cliffs are renowned worldwide for their big wall climbs.
Zion National Park is a hiker’s dream location as it has a wide range of hiking trails for all types of hikers. So whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro at hiking, Zion will not disappoint you.
Another unique thing about Zion National Park is that it is home to 79 different kinds of mammals that draw wildlife lovers from all over the world, with more than 4.3 million people visiting the park annually.
Angels Landing Trail
Angels Landing is among the most popular destinations in Zion National Park and among the park’s most strenuous hikes. It is a 5.4-mile round-trip hike that takes one up to an elevation of 1,488 feet and takes an average person about 4 hours to complete this hike.
The hike is a steep sandstone mountain with chains to grab onto for safety. Surrounding you are the epic scenic views of Zion National Park.
However, you will need a permit to go on this hike. This is a precautionary measure to avoid overcrowding on the trail, as this terrifying trail is one you do not want to do without controls in place. When we were there, this hike was closed because of virus fears. (Bev was fearful anyway, so she was okay skipping it) Nevertheless, it’s a hike on my adventurer’s list! Just hang on tight because several people die here each year from falls.
We were able to hike to the base of the chains, and the hike there was one of our favorite memories from our National Park tour. We loved Walter’s Wiggles, a switchback named for a park superintendent.
Emerald Pool Trail
Emerald Pool Trail follows a small stream that collects in a series of pools, hence the name. The Emerald Pools are among the park’s most eye-catching features. The trail is a 1.2-mile round trip to the Lower Pool, 2 miles to the Middle and Lower Pools, and a 2.5-mile round trip to all three; the Upper, Middle, and Lower Pools.
The paths to the lower and middle pools are wide sidewalks and incredibly easy to trek across, whereas the hike from the Middle to the Upper Pool is rather strenuous, with its uneven sand and rock surface.
Carved by the Virgin River, the Narrows is unique and beautiful. It’s a 12-mile-long hiking trail suitable for hikers of all levels. The trail’s difficulty level increases with the river’s flow, but it is usually quite an easy trek.
Narrow hiking can be done both; bottom-up and top-down. Shuttles are going to the Narrows, but they are usually quite crowded as it is a very popular trail. The earlier you start, the more likely you will be to beat the crowds. During spring, when the snow melts, the trail might be closed as the river reaches a high level, so the best time to go around is fall. Once again, we missed out on this hike. While we were there, it was closed due to an algae bloom suspected of killing a dog. That was a rarity; it’s open almost all the time.
If you want to hike the full 16 miles of this scenic trail, you will have to make it an overnight adventure because it is too long to complete in a single day. However, you can also start the trail at any point to shorten the trek.
The trail goes downhill from the Lava Point, making it an easier hike for inexperienced hikers. There are several campsites along the way where you can spend the night if you plan on making the complete 16-mile round trip.
Some of the most unique points on the trail include Potato Hallow, Phantom Valley, Telephone Canyon Trail, and Cabin Spring.
Camping in the Park
Located a quarter mile from the South entrance, Watchman Campground is one of the busiest campgrounds in Zion National Park. Reservations must be made at least six months in advance as they have limited campsites available year-round. They have 176 sites; 65 are only for RVs, 69 are only for tents, and seven are reserved for groups (available from March-November).
The site has 95 electric hookups and year-round staff. Each site also has a picnic table and a fire ring; however, fires might not be allowed if restrictions exist. There is no camp store on site, so you must come prepared.
Located near the visitor center, the South Campground has 117 campsites. Unfortunately, the campground is only open from March-November, which is why there is often a waiting list. You must make a reservation at least 14 days in advance as it is impossible to be accommodated on short notice. Apart from 8 tent-only and four group-only sites, the rest are available for tents and RVs.
The site has no electric hookups but has staff on-site during the on-season. Much like the first on-site campground, the South Campground also has fire rings and picnic tables at each site. Unfortunately, there is no camp store on-site, so you must bring your firewood. The best thing about the South Campgrounds is that there are large trees that provide shade during high temperatures.
Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort
Located at walking distance from the park’s visitor center, this is the most convenient campground to reserve if you’re traveling in an RV. Large spacious areas are assigned to the RV sections with trees to provide shade against the scorching heat.
The amenities on this campground include a heated pool, toilets, showers, and coin laundry on site. Moreover, there are a few activities that you can engage in nearby, such as river tubing and swimming.
Angels Landing is one of the most breathtaking viewpoints in Zion National Park and one of the hardest to get to. Previously known as the Temple of Aeolus, the keeper of the winds, the viewpoint is extremely windy, which adds to the trail’s difficulty level to get there. However, it offers a 360-degree view of Zion Canyon. The best time to visit Angels Landing is early morning, as it takes a long time to get there, and the morning sun makes the horizon a sight to behold.
Named after the lava flow that it experienced almost a million years ago, Lava Point is one of the highest yet easily accessible viewpoints in Zion National Park. It is said that about a million years ago, the lava erupted at Home Valley Knoll and flowed about 13 miles before it cooled down. The cooled-down lava protected the land from erosion which is why it still stands tall while the areas around it have changed over the centuries. This viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the vast stretches of the National Park and has a few picnic tables.
This viewpoint is famous as it is easily accessible and has a fantastic view from a lava rock promontory. You’ll view cascading mountaintops from the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead to the Northgate Peaks. It is one of the few points offering such a view with a small elevation change, making it a great place to visit if you are not a hiker.
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