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  • NicoleDeRosa

UTAH - Zion National Park


Zion is only 2.5 hours from Las Vegas, Nevada so it was easy for my friends and I to drive from Los Angeles to Vegas, stay at the Hard Rock Hotel for the night, have a relaxing dinner, a swim, a bubble bath (for me) & a good night of rest before lots of hiking & camping. I may have slept the best I ever have in my life at the Hard Rock Hotel because between the bubble bath & night of rest, I felt like so relaxed & motivated the next day.

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ZION NATIONAL PARK


In that photo where I’m looking up while hiking The Narrows, that’s the face of pure gratitude & absolute bliss. Up until that point, I had never been enveloped by such breathtaking natural beauty. As I looked up & smiled, tears just came streaming down my face. It was such a natural response to be surrounded by such majestic surroundings. I had never had a reaction to nature & a place that way before. Zion is truly on another level.

We really forget sometimes that our planet truly is Heaven on Earth. I highly recommend making a list of national parks to visit with Zion & Bryce Canyon at the top of that list! It truly humbles a person. They are both truly magical, epic & make you feel like a tiny little ant amongst its beauty, stature & light.

Southern Utah is full of outdoor activities with sunshine year-round. Historically this area has been rich in agriculture and now has the added benefits of great hotels and vacation rentals, excellent restaurants for all types of dining, and a wide array of annual events.

Zion National Park is a southwest Utah nature preserve distinguished by Zion Canyon’s steep red cliffs. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive cuts through its main section, leading to forest trails along the Virgin River. The river flows to the Emerald Pools, which have waterfalls and a hanging garden. Also along the river, partly through deep chasms, is Zion Narrows wading hike which my friends and I did over a few days.

Springdale, located just outside of Zion National Park against a backdrop of the most breathtaking mountain panoramas you will ever see. Springdale is home to locally managed hotels, B&B’s, restaurants, farmer’s markets, art galleries, tour guides, outfitters, gift shops, hiking, bike trails and more.


LODGING


My friends and I stayed at the Zion Crest Campground & RV Park where we camped in the pines on the plateau above Utah's Zion National Park on land that literally borders the park boundary. They have bathrooms, showers & laundry facilities. Reserve your RV space on the east rim of Zion National Park & explore the dramatic scenic terrain of Bryce Canyon National Park in the distance.

Below are more places to stay near Zion National Park:

The Dwellings
Watchman Villas
Bumbleberry Inn
Driftwood Lodge
Hummingbird Villa
Under Canvas Zion
Cable Mountain Lodge
Flanigan's Resort & Spa
Cliffrose (Curio Collection by Hilton)
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort Cabins
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort Glamping
Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn & Suites


My friend Jessica along with her husband & daughter stayed at Under Canvas Zion which she said provided a very luxurious glamping experience.

"We booked a “suite tent” which had a king bed, pull-out couch, and private bathroom. The food at the camp was quite good too. We had breakfast and dinner both nights."



WHERE TO EAT


My friend Jessica suggests: Lunch at MeMe's Cafe in Springdale + a late afternoon drink & snack in Springdale at Oscar's Cafe.



6 HIKES YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS


THE NARROWS
RIVERSIDE WALK
ANGELS LANDING
WEEPING ROCK


What is The Narrows?

The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. This gorge, with walls a thousand feet tall & the river sometimes just 20-30 wide, is one of the most popular areas in Zion National Park. You can see The Narrows by hiking along the paved, wheelchair accessible Riverside Walk for one mile from the Temple of Sinawava. If you wish to see more, you will be walking in the Virgin River which my friends and I did. This can involve wading upstream for just a few minutes or it can be an all day hike.


How can I hike The Narrows?

A hike through The Narrows requires hiking in the Virgin River. You must get your feet wet since there is no trail. Most people choose to start their hike from the Temple of Sinawava via the Riverside Walk & then walk upstream before turning around & hiking back down to the Temple of Sinawava which we did.


Bottom-Up Hike From the Temple of Sinawava (Wilderness Permit not required)

Hiking in The Narrows upstream as far as Big Spring does not require a permit. Doing the hike this way allows you to see some of the most spectacular and narrowest parts of the canyon. You can hike in the river for an hour and have a great experience, or you can hike as far as Big Spring, a strenuous, ten-mile round trip, all-day adventure.


16-Mile Through-Hike from Chamberlain's Ranch

(Wilderness Permit required)

Permits are required for this 16-mile through-hike of the Virgin River Narrows from Chamberlain's Ranch to the Temple of Sinawava. Those who choose this option must arrange their own transportation to the Chamberlain's Ranch trailhead.


When should I hike The Narrows?

Most people hike The Narrows in the summer & early fall when the water tends to be at its warmest & the water level drops. However, this is also the time of year that storms can cause life-threatening flash floods. Obviously check the weather, but we ended up going end of July/August.


What should I wear & bring to hike The Narrows?

Close-toed shoes & a hiking stick are recommended for hiking on the slick, uneven rocks in The Narrows. High canyon walls & water create cooler conditions than anywhere else in Zion Canyon, so wear & bring seasonally appropriate synthetic layers. Click here for more: Equipment and Clothing Recommendations

I can't speak on the hike for Angel's Landing since we chose to hike The Narrows + Riverside Walk instead & because of time, we also wanted to visit & camp at Bryce Canyon National Park as well. Click here for more information about Angel's Landing.


Suggestions + Notes:

Enter Zion from its East Entrance. I recommend you do this as it shortens the drive & is a very scenic introduction to the park with overlooks & pullouts. You can also do the Canyon Overlook Trail if you want to get a hike in as well.

The parking lot in Zion fills up early (by 9am) but we paid for a spot walking distance from the Springdale entrance. If you don't want to pay for parking, you can park further away in Springdale & take a free shuttle into the park. Once you are in the park you must take the shuttle to explore the canyon.

We got off the shuttle at Zion Lodge and did the full Emerald Pools hike (lower, middle, upper) & the Grotto Trail. We got on the shuttle back towards the Visitors Center & hopped off at Court of the Patriarchs to take in the scenic views.

My friend, Jessica suggests that if you drive past Under Canvas & through the Kolob Canyon portion of Zion you can check out Kolob Reservoir. You can take a very refreshing swim at Kolob Reservoir. It’s about 20 degrees cooler here so it was a nice break after the hot morning!




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