It has become a summer tradition for my cousin [Kait] and I to take a road trip together and explore exciting new places. This year we had our sights set on Zion National Park, Utah. Being a lover of all things that are green, I was unsure of how much I would actually enjoy our desert vacation. But I must admit, Zion exceeded my expectations completely! This national park is gorgeous and is a must for anyone who hasn’t yet visited. The drive into the park was one of my favorite parts. It felt as though we were on a ride at Disneyland because the colors of the red rock were so surreal and unearthly! If you come in from the north gate you also get to drive through this really awesome tunnel that was constructed in the late 1920’s. It is 1.1 miles long and cuts right through the mountainous rock. We stayed at the Watchman Campground for 3 nights and that gave us plenty of time to explore the park. Our trip was towards the end of August and the weather was beautiful! Most of our days were sunny and the temperature ranged from warm to mildly hot, but never was it brutally hot.
We went on a number of hikes. Some were awesome, while others were not. And no, I didn’t have the balls to do Angels Landing. I am absolutely terrified of heights and it wasn’t worth it to me. We also didn’t get the chance to hike the Narrows because there was a flash flood warning on our last day and we made the mistake of not hiking it sooner. So here’s a tip – when the weather is good, make the Narrows your #1 priority. Weather can be very unpredictable in Utah, so take advantage of a sunny day when you’ve got one! Below are the hikes that we did during our visit. Also, here is a link to Zion National Park’s map and trail guide to give you more detailed information about the trails.
Emerald Pools Trail
I certainly didn’t find this trail to be anything special. The name is very alluring, but it was kind of a big let down. The pools are small and not very impressive. But the hike itself is great exercise and offers some cool views of the park along the way.
Weeping Rock Trail
A very, very easy hike. It’s literally a five minute walk from where the shuttle drops you off. The weeping rock was pretty and the concept of it is cool, but that’s about it. It’s worth a quick peek.
This was a great hike! Kait and I were one of the only people on the trail and it made for some really cool shots. Try to avoid hiking this trail in the middle of the day because there is no escaping the sun for a good portion of the hike. We hiked it in the early afternoon and the sun was relentless. Once we made it to the end, the views of the park were spectacular.
Canyon Overlook Trail
Canyon Overlook was a really fun hike that had a ton of cool photo opts. It was rainy that day and my expectations for the hike were low so I didn’t bring my camera. What a mistake! Luckily, I at least had my phone to take pictures with. The scenery is gorgeous and the overlook will take your breath away. I could have spent hours taking creative shots all around the trail.
We camped at the Watchman Campground [right next to the south entrance of the park] and it was very enjoyable! The campsites are really nice and very clean. They do not have showers in the park, but right outside the park in the little town of Springdale there is an outdoors gear rental store that offers cheap showers. The shop is located right behind a blue steeple, ask the park ranger at the entrance booth for directions on how to get there.
Zion has a lot to offer! The central lodge has a restaurant, a gift shop, and hotel rooms. They also have horseback riding excursions on some of the trails. Also, right outside the south gate is Springdale. There you will find a handful of restaurants and a few quirky shops to check out! Before this trip, I was unaware of Utah’s “interesting” liquor laws. Apparently, all alcoholic beverages must be accompanied with food. If you are at a bar, you can’t just order a few drinks, you have to order food as well. So if that’s the case, “Bartender, I will have a 3 pitchers of beer… oh and a bag of pretzels, thanks!”
The Nitty Gritty: We booked our campsite reservations months in advance at www.recreation.gov and it cost us $16/night for a basic tent campsite. There is a very efficient and reliable tram system that will take you to all of the trailheads within the park. If you plan on going to the Narrows, check in at the ranger station the day of and make sure that there are no flash flood warnings – they can be unpredictable and very dangerous.
The trip was a blast and I can’t wait to see where we will find ourselves next summer!