Thursday, May 9, 2019

The 7 Best Things To Do at Zion National Park

the 7 best things to do at zion national park blog cover image

Zion National Park is arguably Utah’s most popular National Park and is one of the top visitor attractions in the state. From incredible hiking trails, formidable landscapes, to alluring scenic views, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Here are the 7 best things you can do at Zion National Park:

hikers on the riverbank and wading through the rushing water

1. Hike the Zion Narrows

The Narrows, the most narrow section of Zion Canyon, is one of the most popular hikes in the Park. The one-mile wheelchair accessible hike sets off from the Sinawava Temple along the Riverside Walk and gives you a spectacular view of the Narrows.

The footpath leads you straight to the Virgin River. If you are willing to explore further, be prepared to get yourself wet as you will be wading or swimming upstream.

We recommend taking this hike in late spring or summer when there are warmest temperatures and lowest water levels. However, visitors should keep clear when there is a storm forecast since the Narrows can fill up quickly resulting in dangerous flash floods.

2. Zion Canyon Visitor Center

The visitor center houses a large bookstore, a miniature model of the whole park, and knowledgeable staff ready to answer all your questions. Most visitors make this their first stop so as to pick up maps and gather other useful information.

On your way out, purchase a souvenir to remember your trip or grab some books for further reading. Besides the valuable information to be accessed from the Visitor Center, some visitors are fascinated by the ‘green’ features of the building. Visitors can go for an ‘ecohunt’ to explore these green features which include solar panels, and cooling towers, among others.

zion canyon glowing in the sunset

3. Take a scenic drive through Zion Canyon

Another fun way to explore Zion Canyon includes a 57-mile scenic drive. So if you would rather explore the scenery from the comfort of your car, you're covered.

The drive will take you past the Virgin River and along other famous attractions along the way - but only from December to February. In peak season, you can catch a free shuttle which covers the portion of the drive that runs through the park.

Extending outside the park, the route remains magnificent, taking you through the popular Grafton ghost town, and Utah’s Quail Creek and Sand Hollow State Parks. Travelers who have explored this route describe it as a ‘white knuckle drive’ with numerous sheer cliffs and few guard rails.

Even so, the drive rewards you with loads of beautiful views and wildlife alike. You will, however, be required to pay a $30 entrance fee valid for seven days.

4. Hike the Canyon Overlook Trail

Even though it's only a 1-mile round trip hike, the trail rises over 100 feet above the parking lot, giving hikers expansive views of Zion Canyon. Being one of the most photographed trails in the Park, you won't want to miss its beauty.

Hikers who have followed this trail say that despite being rather easy and short, it has some narrow, rocky sections that sometimes prove difficult for young children.

Since it is an easy hike, the trail is also one of the busiest. We recommend starting your hike early because of the limited on-site parking. Access to the trail is free, except for a weekly $30 pass per vehicle and $15 for those entering the park with bikes.

looking down at the winding river from observation point

5. Observation Point

Crest the Observation trail till you find yourself at an of elevation of 6,521 feet on top of Mount Baldy and enjoy the epic bird’s eye view of Zion National Park.

You will be required to ascend at least 2000 feet on the 8-mile total round-trip, with the trek typically taking 3-4 hours. So go well prepared as it is not for the faint of heart. It is advisable you wear sunscreen and bring enough water since you will be exposed to the full sun most of the way. Also, starting your hike early means that you will be able to avoid the worst of the scorching sun.

pools of greenish water shaded in an alcove

6. Explore the Emerald Pools

With a ton of breathtaking scenery, it is no surprise that the Emerald Pools are regarded as one of Zion’s best signature trails. In addition to the dazzling display of monoliths, waterfalls, and pools, Emerald Pools are family-friendly. So make sure you bring along your young ones to enjoy this unmistakable beauty.

It comprises of a total of 4 different pools; the Lower, Upper, and Middle Pools. Of the four, the trail leading to the Lower Emerald Pool is paved and the easiest of them all. After half a mile, you will reach the lush alcove of the Lower Pool where you will find ferns and moss sprouting from the mountainside.

The trail leading to the Middle Pools is equally interesting as it ducks behind twin waterfalls and boasts fascinating views of Red Arch Mountain, Mount Majestic, and Cathedral Mountain.

The third trail to the Upper Pool, though more rugged and steep, gets you to secluded oasis framed by colossal cliffs on three sides.

7. Hit the Pa’rus Trail

With its rather wide paved path, Pa’rus Trail might be the easiest hike in Zion National Park. The trail has also proved a great way to access various sites throughout the park such as Park Offices and campgrounds, without necessarily relying on the shuttle – which can be very crowded especially in summer.

Travelers enjoy pleasant views of the bubbling Virgin River and the beautiful bridges that span it. The trailhead is easily accessible from the southern end of the Park, near the Park’s tollbooth, and at the northern side of the parking lot.

Zion National Park dominates with its captivating scenic views and endless hike trails of varying length and complexity. You are guaranteed tons of fun with your loved ones. Make sure to explore their official site to acquaint yourself with more activities and how to visit each one of them.