Zion National Park was technically the second National Park I visited, but it was the first park I traveled to after I started my goal of visiting all the National Parks in the United States.
My brother and I traveled to Zion together on a spontaneous trip in May of 2015. Knowing what I know now after living in Utah for 2 years, I definitely wouldn’t go back to Zion this time of year (because it’s far too crowded), but back then I was just a tourist. 😉
We flew from Kansas City, MO to Las Vegas, NV and then drove to St. George, Utah, which is where we stayed for the next few nights.
The first day we arrived at Zion National Park was warm and sunny! We spent the day doing a few smaller hikes around the park. We hiked the Emerald Pools (Lower, Middle, and Upper), and then explored down by the river.
On our second day we decided to hike Angel’s Landing. Even though the weather was cloudy and overcast, we were still rewarded with spectacular views. Angel’s landing is considered a strenuous hike, and it’s the truth. There are quite a few steep drop-offs and narrow sections, some of which you need to use the chains provided to pass through. This hike is also a little deceiving because once you make it past Walter’s Wiggles (a set of 21 steep switchbacks) to an area called Scout’s Lookout, you think you’ve made it to the top… However, you quickly realize you still have another mile of even steeper and narrower ridges to hike! Many people will actually stop here at Scout’s Lookout because after what you’ve just completed, hiking to the top of Angel’s Landing seems nearly impossible. Even though our weather wasn’t ideal, we were still lucky to not have any rain. When it rains at Zion, hiking Angel’s Landing is highly discouraged because it becomes slippery, and people have died from falling off the ridges. Whether you decide to stop at Scout’s Lookout or hike all the way to the top, this hike and it’s amazing views are totally worth it!
Our third day we decided to skip the crowds at Zion and stay in St. George to check out Snow Canyon State Park. We did multiple hikes and were yet again blessed with a beautiful day. You can’t beat those red rocks!
What I want to do the next time I go to Zion
- Observation point. This is another strenuous 8 mile hike at Zion, but some find it less intimidating than Angel’s Landing. From the top you are rewarded with amazing views of the entire canyon.
- The Narrows. This is an incredible hike through the water in between the high canyon walls, and is a nice way to cool off in the summer heat! However, keep in mind that The Narrows may close during extreme weather conditions, such as flash flood warnings. You do not need a permit to do the Zion Narrows “bottom up” day hike from the Temple of Sinawava, however you do need a permit for all “top-down” hikes.
- The Subway. This hike also requires a permit, whether you do it from the Bottom Up or Top Down. This hike has creek crossing, route finding, and scrambling over boulders. Scenic and beautiful!
What to bring with you to Zion
- Durable shoes. While hiking boots or trail running shoes are preferable, any shoe with good support and traction should be sufficient.
- Water. Bring plenty of water, especially if you’re visiting during the warmer months (April-September). Southern Utah can get very warm, and many of the trails have high sun exposure.
- Hat and/or Sunglasses.
- Hiking poles. These are optional depending on how intense your hikes are. While I am still new to using hiking poles, they can be very useful. The main benefits are reducing the impact of hiking on your knee joints and leg muscles.
Keep in mind that Zion is a huge park, so if even if you’re not an experienced hiker, there are still so many options this majestic park can offer you. 😊