Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah is a 90-minute drive from Bryce Canyon National Park. If you have the time, I recommend going to both parks as they vastly differ in scenic views and hiking terrain. As a New Englander, I had to visit both since it is rare to be able to see two national parks in one day out East.
Zion was Amanda’s favorite park from our three-week trip. It has everything you can want in a park: red sands, dramatic cliffs, strange trees, watering holes full of tadpoles, caves, gorgeous drives, and death-defying trails for the super adventurous hiker. Many of its hiking options should come with a waiver. Look up photos of Angel’s Landing if you want to see what I am talking about.
I had a mission at Zion. I wanted to see The Narrows, one of Zion’s most popular hikes that happens to be in the Virgin River. The Narrows are surrounded by 1000 foot rock walls and there is no trail, you must walk upstream in the river with closed toe shoes and a walking stick. At times, you can be up to your shoulders in water. Many hikers prefer to rent water shoes and waterproof backpacks so they can bring all their gear with them.
Hiking the Narrows is a dangerous activity and you will hear stories about a mother and son who got separated when a mother disregarded the closed trail sign and a flash flood came through. She spent the night stranded clinging to a cliff wall. She was eventually reunited with her son the next day. After hearing this we were not tempted to try our luck on the trail.
We hiked the paved trail to the Narrows only to find that the Narrows were closed due to the chance of flash flooding. This is a popular occurrence in August, so check early in the day. If it is closed in the morning check back later, as oftentimes the threat of floods pass and the rangers open the Narrows for adventuring. We did not get to hike up the Virgin River but we did manage to wade around at the beginning of the trail with many other disappointed hikers. We had a schedule to keep so we hiked a lesser known trail at the northern end of Zion.
The northern part of Zion offers the quieter side of the park inside the Kolob Canyons. There are some wilderness trails in this area that require a permit. Amanda and I hiked the Timber Creek Overlook Trail, where no permit was necessary. There isn’t a lot of shade here, so it’s best to visit in the early morning before the sun starts radiating heat off the rocks.
I hope you will have a chance to explore this gorgeous park.
See you on the trails,