Daydreaming About Zion

3 03 2010


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.

The Narrows

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.

Any questions?

Next time: what to do in Springdale and farther afield…

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.



2 responses

3 03 2010

Thank you for this post! For me, Angle’s Landing is a must! I’m not afraid of heights but get shaky with exposure but no matter what, I need to do Angle’s Landing. I will be staying at the Bumbleberry and will be happy to leave the car there and hop the shuttle. I get in Sat afternoon and thought I would take the balance of that day to get settled and get my bearings, then venture out around for a bunch of short sight seeing hikes on Sunday riding the full route the shuttle goes and getting off and on along the way, then Angle’s Landing on Monday. I am still figuring out what other hikes to do. My favourite hikes are ones that cover 9 to 13 miles, and anywhere from 2200 feet to 3300 feet of elevation. I like to be out there for 6 to 9 hours. One or two that fit in that range somewhere would be nice. Also, I want to drive to Bryce one day and do a hike there.

I look forward to your next posts!

5 03 2010


Glad you’re going to take on Angel’s Landing. It’s not a long hike, but it is strenuous, and that last leg is nail-biting. You can do it, though…don’t let yourself chicken out. It is definitely the best summit I’ve ever been on.

Many of the “popular” hikes in the main canyon are shorter and easier. I’ve heard that the West Rim Trail is great, though I haven’t yet done it. The early part of it shares the Angel’s Landing Trail (to Scout’s Lookout, right before the final leg to Angel’s Landing itself), but then it jogs off on its own. It is about 10 miles, with 2200 feet elevation gain, so it might be right up your alley. I plan to take it on next time I go to Zion.

Also check out today’s post for the Kolob Arch Trail. That’s 14 miles round trip, about 8 hours, strenuous because of the endurance required, but it’s a really lovely hike — one of the favorites I have ever taken.

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