One of our readers let us know that she’s planning a trip to Zion National Park in May. Since Zion is one of my top three favorite National Parks, I thought now would be a good time to give some pointers…
Zion Trip Tips: Part One
Zion National Park, just north of Springdale, Utah, is captivating. Perhaps it’s the lush greenery set against a backdrop of russet, pink and white cliffs. Perhaps it’s the Virgin River that winds its way through the base of the canyon. Perhaps it’s Weeping Rock, or the Emerald Pools, or the Court of the Patriarchs, or the Narrows. Perhaps it’s Springdale itself, or the Mt. Carmel tunnel, or the wildlife, or the rangers, or…
There’s a lot to love about Zion. Here are a few recommendations about enjoying your time in the park itself.
Utilize Zion’s shuttle service. Actually, you don’t have much choice, since personal autos aren’t allowed into the park unless you’re staying at the lodge. The shuttle runs frequently, quietly, and efficiently, and the shuttle drivers are like tour guides. So sit back and enjoy your trip to the trailhead of your choice.
Hike Angel’s Landing. I don’t care how afraid of heights you are, or how nervous you are about an intense climb. Just do it. Start early in the morning, when the trail will be quiet. Pack a lunch to eat atop the peak and enjoy the spectacular views. When you reach the final ascent, keep your eyes peeled for peregrine falcons which nest up there. Do this early in your trip — it will inspire you for the days ahead.
Avoid Emerald Pools in the middle of the day when it will be crowded.
Check out the Narrows. The Narrows, for those just joining us, is a hike that takes place in the Virgin River, at a spot in the canyon where the walls are incredibly narrow. You can hike it from the bottom up (at the end of Riverside Walk at the Temple of Sinawava trailhead), exploring until you decide to turn around, or you can hike from the top down with a permit. May is supposed to be one of the best times of the year to take this in-the-river hike, but you always have to check with the rangers regarding the likelihood of flash flooding. Long term Narrows hiking (and top down) require some research and special gear can be rented from nearby outfitters, but a couple of hours of exploring from the bottom up only requires fortitude and hiking poles.
Find some ranger-led programs. Zion rangers, like rangers in any of the parks, are helpful, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic.
Next time: what to do in Springdale and farther afield…
© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.