Zion National Park
Zion National Park was Utah’s first national park, established on November 19, 1919. More than 3 million people visit the park every year; Utahns can escape some of the tourists by visiting in February or March, before the lines get long and the park fills up.
The Virgin River
The Virgin River runs through Zion. Sometimes it’s a shallow sedate river; other times it crashes through the canyon at more than 150 cubic feet per second. Flash floods during the spring and summer seasons can be deadly.
Angel’s Landing is a strenuous hike that rewards visitors will sweeping views of the park. The entire hike takes about 4 hours to complete and it’s not suitable for those who are afraid of heights or really out of shape.
The last section is very steep with sharp dropoffs, but the view from the top is amazing.
The Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park is more remote and typically less crowded. You can take the scenic drive for five miles to enjoy the beauty from the comfort of your car, or embark on a multi-day backpacking trip (and everything inbetween). Here, you’ll see 2,000-foot cliff walls, scenic views and plenty of wildlife.
Upper and Lower Emerald Pool Trails
The Emerald Pool trails are popular hiking trails. The lower trail is fairly easy and takes about 1 hour roundtrip.
The upper trail is a little more strenuous, but is also short and mostly accessible for the typical visitor.
There’s two ways to hike The Narrows: from the bottom up; and from the top down. The easiest way is to hike from the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop. Walk along the paved Riverside Walk trail, then enter the river and start walking into the canyon. You can go as far as Big Spring without a permit -- it’s a 10 mile round trip from the shuttle stop. The top down trip into The Narrows requires a permit and is much more strenuous. You’ll start at the trailhead at Chamberlain’s Ranch, then hike 16 miles, which takes most hikers about 12 hours. Many hikers spend the night in the gorge.
You’ll need a permit and some advanced skills to hike The Subway. The 9 mile hike from the bottom up starts at the Left Fork trailhead. Expect to scramble over boulders and cross creeks. The 9.5-mile trip from the top down starts at the Wildcat Canyon trailhead. You’ll need rappelling experience (bring along at least 60 feet of rope), and will swim through several cold, deep pools.
At 6,534 feet, The Watchman is one of Zion’s most recognizable mountains. You can hike the Watchman trail, a 4.3-mile round trip. The National Park Service considers it a “moderate” hike.
What are you waiting for?
Have you visited Zion lately? If not, now’s the time to go!