Zion National Park Guide

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(This post is part 4/6- make sure to read the others. While you’re reading, click anything blue and you will see I attached links and additional images for more information!)

*All times included time spent taking pictures/enjoying the views.

* We visited in the middle of June

Our honeymoon continued with a 3.5 day trip to Zion National Park. Despite most of our planned hikes being closed because of water levels and falling rock, we still enjoyed our time here so much. Our planned hikes that were closed include the following: Narrows, the Upper and Middle Emerald Pools, Observation Point, Hidden Canyon Trail, and Kayenta Trail.

Day 1- Friday

After our packed day from the Grand Canyon, we arrived at Zion National Park around 7:30pm. Upon getting to the entrance to show our National Park Annual Pass, we were told we must purchase a “tunnel ticket” in order to get through. This is something I did not find during my research- RVs must pay an additional $15.00 because in order to get through the tunnel they must stop traffic and allow for one way travel. The ticket is good for 2 trips so entering and exiting. Unfortunately, one of our planned hikes was on the other side of the tunnel so if we wanted to complete that hike, we would have had to buy another ticket. Because of this, we decided not to. The tunnel is “open” from 8am to 8pm but you are allowed to drive through whenever you want. * If you are an RV traveling through outside of these hours and something happens, you are on your own as it is not recommended.

Our first stop after driving through the park, (our campground was on the other side) took about 25 minutes. We stopped at the Zion Brewery for dinner and drinks. We LOVED this place. Greg ordered the elk burger, I ordered a regular burger with their specialty fries, and we ended our dinner with a brownie sundae. They have indoor and outdoor seating and if you can, sit outside to enjoy views as you eat. No worries about the heat, they have misters to cool you off!

After dinner we made our way to the Zion Canyon Campground and we both said this was the best campground so far. It was $54 a night for a full hook-up pull through RV spot, laundry, pool access, shower tokens, free shuttle to the park, a playground, WiFi, and GREAT views of Zion.

Day 2- Saturday

We woke up and headed towards the Visitor Center by foot. We decided not to take the Springdale shuttle so we could take in the views. When entering the park by foot, you must have your pass, a receipt from parking, or pay to get into the park. Once again, we were able to get information on recommended hikes as well as add to our patch collection here. Our first hike of the day was the Watchman Trail. We began around 10:00am.

The Watchman Trail

Distance- 3.3 miles (total out and back)

Time- 2 hours

Shuttle- Stop 1, start at the visitor center.

The Watchman Trail had great views but was a steep incline for the entire 1.75 miles leading up to the view. That okay, because that means a nice 1.75 miles of downhill on the way back. Greg and I found out we love hiking downhill, especially in the heat! The trail was not as crowded as we thought so we were able to enjoy ourselves starting. *Once you get to the top you must complete the Loop Trail in order to get to the scenic overlook (this is included in the trail distance).

From the Watchman Trail we hopped on the shuttle and got off at stop 9 for the Riverside Walk.

Riverside Walk

Distance- 2.2 miles (total out and back)

Time- An hour and a half

Shuttle- Stop 9

Handicap Accessible

We started this hike around 5pm and it was amazing; the sun was behind the canyon and walking next to the river gave off a nice cool breeze. We definitely recommend this hike later in the day. This trail has 2 access points- the first is a paved road and the second in a sandy path right by the water. Look for the sand access points as you will get a better view of the Virgin River while completing this trail. This trail is also handicap accessible with some assistance. The trail ends where you would begin the Narrows Hike so if you plan on doing the Narrows, wait to complete this then.

Our last hike of the day was the Lower Emerald Pool.

Lower Emerald Pools

Distance- 1.2 miles (total out and back)

Time- 1 hour

Shuttle- Stop 5

Unfortunately, we were very disappointed with this hike. Arriving to the Lower Emerald Pool, it looked more like a rain puddle to us. The views of the canyon were better. (This is not to say you shouldn’t visit! This is just what it looked like when we arrived)

Our day ended with dinner again at the Brew Pub where we had a great meal. Our service however, was not so good. We had a different waiter than the night before and we were not impressed.  

Day 3- Sunday

Well… we finally took a step back and had ourselves a day where we didn’t set our alarms and we SLEPT IN!! We knew this day was going to be short in anticipation for our strenuous hike on Monday so we decided to take in some much needed rest. We woke up around 10:00am and ate breakfast. We bought food from Hoodoos General Store– walking distance from Zion Canyon Campground. If you go, check out their market, they have almost anything you could possibly need. Following breakfast, we headed into the park.

We decided to plan our hikes from the furthest to the closest and riding the shuttle back to the campground stopping along the way. Our first hike of the day was Weeping Rock.

Weeping Rock

Distance- .4 miles (total out and back)

Time- 30 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 7

This was a great, easy hike with views of the canyon. The only downfall is that some of the trail was pretty steep. Also, the water runs off the rocks above so you may get a little wet even if it has not rained.

From Weeping Rock, we traveled to complete the Grotto Trail.

Grotto Trail

Distance- .5 miles

Time- 30 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 5 or 6, start at one and walk to the other.

The Grotto was a nice, relaxing hike with views of the canyon. The trails were mostly flat which made it more enjoyable. We were also almost all alone the entire time which we also enjoyed.

Our next hike was probably the shortest hike in the park, an uphill 100-yard hike to the Court of the Partiarchs.

Court of the Patriarchs

Distance- 100 yards

Time- 15 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 4

You will not find this hike on the hiking guide from the visitor center but all of the shuttles will inform you of it. Once at the top, you have views of 3 cliffs- Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Although this was a short hike, I would recommend if you need something to do in any spare time.

Our final hike of the day was hiking along the Pa’rus Trail.

Pa’rus Trail

Distance- 1.75 miles (1 way, we completed 1 way)

Time- 1 hour

Shuttle- Stop 1 or 3, start at one and hike to the other or complete a round trip

The Pa’rus trail was another trail where we were almost completely alone. The trail is almost all paved and has multiple bridges that provide a great photo opportunity. As you are completing this trail, turn around and look at the views of the canyons behind you.

We concluded our day of hiking with beers from the Zion Bew Pub. Greg and I loved their beer and this was a great way to unwind. If you go, let us know what beer was your favorite! While there, we asked for recommendations for dinner and were told the Bit and Spur and Oscars were great and nearby.

We chose to eat at the Bit and Spur (Springdale shuttle 6) for dinner and it did not disappoint. We both loved our meals! The prices were a little high but if you sit out back you have great views of the canyon. Watch out though, as we were eating a flash flood warning came in and we were rushed inside!

Day 4- Monday

Our alarms went off at an early 5:00am in preparation of Angels Landing. We were told to be at the visitor center by 5:30 as the 6:00am shuttle is almost always completely full. We arrived at 5:45 and were number 31 and 32 in line. Luckily, we made it on the first shuttle. Others weren’t so lucky however, and had to wait for the next shuttle.

Angels Landing

Distance- 5.4 miles (total out and back)

Time- 4 hours

Shuttle- Stop 6

This hike is not only listed as strenuous, but is also listed as one of the most dangerous hikes in the states.  Look up pictures and videos online and you will see why! The 2.75 miles to get there is completely uphill- I wanted to give up so many times but Greg was there to support me. He waited as I stopped about 15 times on the way up to “look at the views” aka catch my breath and make sure I was still alive (lol). After you complete 2 miles, there is a lookout point called Scouts Lookout where many people stop, take in the views, and turn around. If you decide to keep going, the rest of the trail is a narrow trail with people going up as others are coming down, with only a chain to hold onto on one side (scary!). I completed the first section of the chains but turned around after that. Greg continued on and is now able to say he completed Angels Landing (it gets its name because someone once said it is so high only angels can reach it). This hike is not intended for those with a fear of heights as there are 1,000 foot drop offs on either side as you are hiking up and down the trial. Prior to completing, there is a sign that warns you that many people have died completing this hike! Only complete this if you are 100% confident, if you start and do not feel comfortable like I did, turn around! The views from Scouts Lookout are just as nice.

After completing the first half of Angels Landing, we continued onto the West Rim Trail.

West Rim Trail

Distance- As long or as short as you would like- we hiked a half mile in and then a half mile out for a total of 1 mile

Time- As long or as short as you would like- 30 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 6

You can only access the West Rim trail from Angels Landing, it is a continuation and a complete 14 mile trip if you decide to do the entire trail. Greg and I hiked a half mile to a lookout point and then turned around as we were getting tired and hungry.

I guess you can say we were pretty tired after these hikes. We went back to the RV and both passed out for 3 hours. The rest of the day was spent sitting outside, drinking beers, making smores, and talking with our neighbors. We have made so many friends along the way so far that we hope to keep in touch with. We encourage you to make friends on your trip as you already have one thing in common- your love for traveling!

OTHER PARK INFORMATION

SHUTTLE SYSTEM- There are two shuttles at Zion National Park. The first is for the town of Springdale which we used to get to the entrance of the park and the other for inside of the park. The shuttles inside the park runs every 15 minutes until 8:30am where they then run every 5 minutes. The shuttle stops around 9:30pm depending on where you are inside the park and 10:00pm outside the park using the Springdale shuttle. Be aware when riding the shuttle, you are on the right side of the road depending on where you want to go. 

VISITOR CENTER- Definitely make a stop here, the rangers can provide you with any information or questions you may have, you can buy souvenirs at the gift shop, grab free maps (we lived off of using ours), and get a stamp for your National Park Passport! We added to our National Park patch collection here.  

SERVICE- We had service and WiFi at our campground which was nice for a change, we were immediately able to send pictures to our family. 

FOOD- We packed a lot of snacks for our hikes including trail mix, crackers, etc. Having the RV available after each hike was very convenient for meals as well. There are many restaurants, cafes, and stores in the town of Springdale- you will definitely be able to find what you are looking for foodwise here. Like I mentioned above, we ate at the Brew Pub, Bit and Spur, and Hoodoos and would recommend all three. Oscars was also recommended but we did not make it there this trip.  

LAUNDRY- There was a laundry facility at our campground open 24/7- $2.00 to wash and $2.00 to dry. 

WEATHER- It was hot but luckily, the sun was occasionally hidden by the canyon. The rangers recommend two liters per person while hiking. 

TRAILS- If you are limited on time, plan out your top trails and do them first; you might be surprised that you have extra time in the day that allows for more adventures.

FIREWOOD- You are not allowed to gather branches for firewood, it must be purchased.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDATION- Find time to relax if you can.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDED HIKE– Greg: Angels Landing or the Riverwalk, Meg: The Watchman.

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