Just Google Zion and you will find hundreds of majestic photos of its steep red cliffs and the infamous river that cuts through the canyons. As striking as those photos may be, they don’t do the national park much justice. No camera can capture all of the nature and beauty that resides in this park.
When you walk into the center of those deep red canyons, you’ll find yourself wanting to take hundreds of photos to just capture what only your eyes can see (I definitely did!) My camera, unfortunately, did not do a very good job of capturing the red hues, so if you really want to see how beautiful this park is, you’re going to have to go there yourself! I personally think that the best time of year is spring when the weather isn’t sweltering hot. I was able to enjoy myself on every single trail because it wasn’t difficult to stay cool.
Mark and I drove to Utah and spent about a day and half at Zion. To try and get the most of your trip in about two days or even a day, I’ve given you some important information on how to navigate Zion. I’ve also compiled a more detailed description of the trails, which ones to lump together, their difficulty, and some photos captured on the trail. If you head to Utah and only have time to visit one national park there, I’d definitely recommend Zion National Park.
$30 per vehicle (valid for 7 days)
Things to Bring:
- Backpack (to carry snacks, water bottle, maybe a lunch)
- Good pair of shoes for hiking/walking
- Appropriate clothing for the weather
- Water shoes and waterproof bag if you’re doing the Narrows
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat
- Re-usable water bottle (there are many water filling stations)
Zion has an amazing shuttle system that reaches the 9 locations in the park (that means you can park somewhere and not have to drive for the remainder of your trip). The shuttles are constantly running, and so if you miss one, there’ll most likely be another one rumbling up the road in 7 minutes. At each of the 9 locations, there are multiple trailheads, a map, and sometimes there are water filling stations and bathrooms.
The shuttles are all wheelchair accessible and some of the shorter, paved trails are doable for those in a wheelchair. If you plan out your trails well, you can see more of the different scenery and explore more of the park.
Trails and Their Locations:
Angel’s Landing (location 6): Distance round trip – 5.4 miles
This is one of the more popular and difficult trails in Zion as the ascent is very steep, gets narrow, and at the very last section you’ll be clinging onto chains to safely reach the summit. It’s a straight forward, strenuous hike and is not recommended for young children or those scared of heights because there’s a steep drop off. There’s a reason why this one is referred to as Angel’s Landing. It’s said that it’s so high up that you can see angels when you’re up there…but I’m quite sure that if you fall, you might become an angel. (*TIP: Start early in the morning to avoid most of the crowds. It’s crazy how early some people get up to hike to the top of this thing.)
The sky was barely turning blue as we headed towards the trailhead. It was a bit away from the drop off zone. You get to walk along the river, freeze your butt off in the early morning frost, and enjoy the quiet that rarely comes with a popular national park.
Every couple of hundred feet up, the sky would turn a little bluer and the view would get more magnificent. The river looked like a road and to the right you can see how far we’d gone on the trail.
I’m actually quite afraid of heights and was very thankful for those chains!
When I thought I’d reached the top…well, I was in for a new surprise. I was about to turn around right then and there and call it quits because narrow, heights, and Hayley don’t mix very well (I lack balance). Did I quit, though? Of course not. I had to overcome my fears, didn’t want to miss out on the awesomeness that awaited me at the top, and the lady Mark and I met convinced us to go with her.
Walking across the summit of Angel’s Landing! We made it alive and were on top of the WORLD! (I totally fell on the way down, luckily, not to my death).
Mark likes to lean over the edge of things and give me heart attacks.
On the way down we explored some crevices and little ‘caves’…yes, I ended up getting a little stuck. Story of my life.
What a beautiful trail! If you have to do only one hike, do this one. It’s heart pounding, gets your adrenaline pumping, and you won’t ever forget all of the breathtaking views.
Lower Emerald Pool Trail (Location 5): Distance round trip -1.2 miles
It’s a short paved trail that intersects with the Upper Emerald Pool and Kayenta Trails. Connecting the two trails will allow you to see more and save time. We completed this one after waking up before 6 AM and hiking 13 miles in Angel’s Landing and Observation Point; therefore, it felt difficult. But apparently it’s supposed to be really easy. (Personally, it wasn’t my favorite trail…but then again, I might’ve just been too tired to enjoy it)
Hidden Canyon (Location 7): Distance round trip – 2.4 miles
This hike is a short but steep trail that begins in the same place as Observation Point. The hike up is similar to Angel’s Landing, but it doesn’t take you up as high. You’ll be climbing up some stairs, holding onto chains as you walk along the cliffside, scrambling up and down some rocks, and seeing a spectacular view of Zion. It was good practice for Angel’s Landing!
He’s always, always, always standing on the edge of things!
Time to monkey around not get my shoes wet.
Just hanging around…literally…
We enjoyed some strawberries at the top! What a view!
Observation Point (Location 7): Distance round trip – 8 miles
This is a very long and consistently steep trail (bring plenty of water). The elevation gain is higher than Angel’s Landing. On this trail you’ll be able to hike through canyons, along cliff faces, up hills, and at the top you’ll be able to see a viewpoint of Zion Canyon. I’d say that this one was the most strenuous trail of all the trails I did in Zion, but it has the most changes in scenery and least amount of crowds.
I absolutely love the red rock!
Can you spot Angel’s Landing? It’s a little below us and to the right. Can’t believe we were up there that morning!
Weeping Rock (Location 7): Distance round trip – .5 miles
This is a very short and steep trail, but it is paved. At the top you’ll see a…weeping rock. Don’t worry, I don’t think the rock is weeping because it’s sad or anything. Look closely for falling droplets of water. We’re standing beneath the giant rock!
Riverside Walk (Location 9): Distance round trip – 2.2 miles
This is the easiest and most relaxing paved trail in Zion. Wheelchairs can access this trail and so anybody can enjoy the red canyon sides, flourishing green plants, and walk along the Virgin River. This river is also where people can hike through the Narrows; however, due to high water levels in the springtime, the Narrows wasn’t an option. This trail was the closest thing I could get to it!
I, um…took a bite before I remembered that I wanted a photo of it. When you finish hiking, you can go down to Zion’s lodging area and there’s a little store that sells soft serve ice cream cones! Indulge in some ice cream while you relax by some canyons.
There are plenty more trails to explore in Zion, but those were the ones I chose to hike given my time constraints. On the first day that you arrive in Zion, depending on the time of your arrival, you can hike Hidden Canyon, Weeping Rock, and do the Riverside Walk (or Observation Point if you have time since it’s in the same location as the first two). The next day you can wake up early and hike Angel’s Landing, Observation Point, and Lower Emerald Pool. If you go in the summer I believe that the Narrows will be available for hiking, so if you’re up for trekking through water, I’d suggest that you leave some time for that adventure! I’ll be so jealous of you if you get to go through the Narrows!
Anyways, I hope you’re all enjoying the warm summer weather and have been taking advantage of it by spending plenty of time outdoors! That’s the easiest way to get some Vitamin D, people. Have a great Thursday night and I hope that you had fun reading this post on Zion.