My absolute favourite national park!
The place really made me speechless. This view is awesome!!!
The great thing about Zion is that the national park is not overwhelming huge. A really well-arranged and good organised park There are 18 hiking trails in total. The most famous ones are “Angels Landing” and “The Narrows“. Because the water was still very cold in March we did not do the Narrows therefore we enjoyed Angels Landing even more! There is no other way than enjoying this amazing view!
For more information about the park this website will be very helpful:
Alright. Let’s start from the beginning. My friends and me started the 11 hour drive Friday night with a rental bus for 15 person. Our route went from Mountain View (close to San Francisco) to Springdale (in Utah, where the national park is located). Even though that may sound like a long drive, which it definitely is, it is so worth it! In general. Driving is so much more fun than flying (you can read more about that here)! Especially when you are together with the right people (you can read more about that here). That night we crossed the borders of 4 states and 2 time zones. I will never forget that sunrise we saw while driving through the deepest desert (here are some reasons why I love watching sunrises so much). Various gas stations later…we were almost in the park…well more like ten minutes away. BUT since it was a long drive with almost no sleep we decided to stop for some coffee at !!! (you can read about the thing with the coffee here). We found the café in some king of downtown on the street that leads directly into the park.
Finally arrived at the park we had to pay an entrance fee of $25. With the parking ticket we got a newspaper about the park and a map. Because we were here with a huge group of people and were planning on camping here, we made reservations beforehand for the Watchman Campground for 25 people/8 cars. For 2 nights/3 days it was $15. We parked the bus right next to our camping spot and started our first hike.
As I already mentioned before…everything is really well-organised here. There is a Shuttle that you can use for free. It comes every 7 minutes. There is the Springdale Shuttle, which drives outside of the park (around that little downtown with the cute café I was writing about before). It make 6 stops. Beside that one, there is the Zion Canyon Shuttle, which operates in the park. It makes 8 stops. In the shuttle you can open the windows and it includes an AC. Over speakers the driver gives you many helpful and important information about the park and especially safety in the park. The shuttle is driving along a scenic drive. Because of that you have the great opportunity to see even more of this beautiful nature. At every bus stop you will find tons of information about the trail that you can start from there on. But the most important which gets repeated over and over, everywhere in the park, is to take and drink water. Drinking water is soooo important here. Even though you might not always notice it but you are still in the desert and the sun is way stronger here. Another good advice they don’t talk about in the shuttle bus is to take sunblock! After that weekend I had the biggest sunburn of my life 🙁
We took the shuttle from the “Zion Canyon Visitor Center”. It was a 10 minute walk from our campsite. Our first stop was “Zion Lodge“, which is the 5th stop. From there we took the “Emerald Pools Trail“. I can definitely recommend this trail! You can really explore natural pools and waterfalls here. You can even stand behind a big waterfall. The beginning of the trail is paved and was easy to hike while the rest of the trail was sandy. There are many opportunities for stops during the hike. There are many rocks that are perfect for a quick picnic. The entire trail is in the sun and there is only shade by the rocks.
The trail has various levels. You’ll reach the first level after a 0.6mi (km) hike at the “Lower Pools“, which is known for its easy hike. The path leads behind the two waterfalls on a paved way. Perfect for a hot day: the moist of the waterfalls.
After 1mi (1.6km) you’ll reach the “Middle Pools“. This part of the trail is know as moderate difficult. After that part the trail is not paved anymore. Various creeks with crystal clear water cross the trail before they lead to the waterfall to the lower Pools. You’ll reach the last level, the “Upper Pool“, after 1.5mi (2.5km). All those steps you made will be so worth it once you see the by cliffs surrounded pool with a huuuge waterfall. Sometimes there is even still snow in March even though it may be really hot. The Upper Pool is located in the shade because of all the cliffs. The perfect place for lunch. If you want it to get a little more adventurous you can climb up the cliff behind the waterfall. The way back is the same as the way there. The entire hike has a lenght of approximately of 3mi (5km).
After we did the first hike and tons of pictures later we took the shuttle to “The Grotto“. We did the famous “Angels Landing” trail here. My favourite hike of all I ever did!! BUT pay attention to the facts: the trail is 5mi (8.7km) long and really hard. In the end you even have to climb if you want to. You will get to an elevation of 1476ft (450m). I would not recommend to take big cameras and you should really not be afraid of heights. This trail gets mainly higher and not wider. The first 2.5mi (4km) are paved and the path is curvy but not very steep. The entire trail is sunny throughout the entire day. I would highly recommend to start this trail as early as possible. And remember to take sunblock. Only the Canyon’s surface is cool and offers shade in some spots. Another helpful tip is to definitely finish this trail before the dark. Otherwise I can imagine it to be very difficult to get down. The trail gets tighter and tighter. If you want to have the best view on the ENTIRE park you will have to climb the last 0.1mi. On the side are chains to hold on to. I would always do this part again it makes the hike even more special. On the end you are on an elevation of 5785ft (1765m) and you can look down 1640ft (500m) to the “Virgin River“. It winds around “The Organ“, a slim red cliff that lead from Angels Landing towards the Northeast. In the southeast you can see “The Great White Thron“, in the east “Cable Mountain” and in the Northeast is the “Observation Point“. The way back is again the same as the way there but somehow it looks so different and there is so much more to explore. At least you can look down the steep cliff since you have to climb down again. YEY!
Back at our camping spot we all took “a shower” (we couldn’t find any showers but there were many sinks lol, more to the topic camping you can find here) In the afternoon we made a campfire and had Hot Dogs and S’mores.
The next morning we noticed that it was daylight saving and we gained one hour. That means it was already 9:00am and not 8:00am anymore. So we got ready really fast and ate our very improvised breakfast, threw the garbage away and tried to find everything back in the car. Then we took Route 9 southwards with the car. On our way there we took the next hike which was called “Canyon Overlook Trail“. A short hike with a great view”. Perfect to just sit and enjoy. It was a tiny little bit complicated to park three cars and especially one bus along a cliff and a small road. But finally we mastered that great. We had to walk a bit to the trail but finally we found the stone steps next to the traffic booth. After the steps we found a nice trail wich has easy to hike. The trail led along beautiful sandstone formation along the Pine Creek Slot Canyon. Once you arrived at the vista point you should look to your left you can see “Bridge Mountain“, which is the highest point on the left side. On the right side you can see “East Temple“. If you just look down you can see the Pine Creek Stream. Again, you have to take the same way back as you took to get up. The hike has a total lenght if 1mi (1.6km).
On our way back to San Francisco we drove through Arizona and Nevada. In Nevada we made a stop in Las Vegas (you can read more about Vegas here). On our way through California we made a stop in Calico Ghost Town and at the famous Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner. A diner that makes you feel like you’re back in the 50’S! Waitresses with turqouis-pink dresses and aprons, a Jukebox with music from the 50’s and Elvis, Marylin and other stars from the 50’s on the walls. The menu is typical for an American Diner. Milkshakes, Burger and maaaaaany other delicious stuff. Despite all of that you can play the lottery here and there was even a winner of 1 million Dollars here. For $1 we tested our luck…but apparently that day it wasn’t meant to be 😛 The rest of the drive we were only talking, sleeping and eating 😀
If you have the chance to please, please, please take this trip it will be unforgettable. I promise!