Venue: Zion National Park, Utah
Duration: 1 or 2 days
Best time to visit: Summer and early autumn
Accommodation: I recommend that you stay at the lodges inside of the national park. We stayed at Page, AZ. If you plan to visit Bryce Canyon as well, I would recommend staying at BnB/hotels right outside/between the two national parks.
Entrance Fees: $35
This day trip was impromptu. The original plan was Las Vegas, NV –> Page, AZ –> Horseshoe bend, AZ –> Lake Powell, AZ –> Monument Valley, AZ. We did not realize that the way to Page would go via Utah. After entering Utah we checked the maps for proximity to Zion national park (out of curiosity). We were only 30 miles away. So, all roads led to Zion.
Zion national park looks very different in summer vs winter. In summers you have to take the NPS shuttle to go around. In winter, you can use your car. We left Vegas after check-out and had lost a significant amount of daylight already. Our time in Zion was going to be limited. We decided to drive down the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and limit it to one hike for the day.
The Zion Canyon Scenic drive begins at the Zion visitor center and ends at the Temple of Sinawawa (The Narrows). Popular hikes/points like Angels Landing and Observation point are along the scenic drive. The drive looked very different in the winter. Hundreds walked along the scenic road instead of driving. The fall colors looked magnificent. There was a chill in the air. Wildlife roamed free on the roads and obstructed traffic for the most part. It was lovely! We drove to the Temple of Sinawawa and hiked to the Narrows. After sunset, we returned with phone torches on.
Though we could not cover Zion extensively on this trip, here are a few must-visit places –
Canyon Overlook Trail: This 1-mile round trip hike offers one of the best views of the canyon.
Riverside Trail: This 2.2 miles roundtrip is a beautiful walk alongside the Virginia river.
Angels Landing: It is the most popular and thrilling hike that might require training. A section of the hike requires chain-assisted rock climbing!
Weeping Rock: It is a short hike with a mostly paved way. As the name suggests, it is a huge rock dripping with water.
Emerald Pool Trail: This 1.5-3 miles hike connects the lower and upper Emerald pools.
Hidden Canyon Trail: This strenuous 3-mile hike is similar to Angels landing with steep trails and chain-assisted climbing.
Observation Point: This 8-mile long strenuous hike offers jaw-dropping views of Zion national park.
The Narrows: I’ve had a chance to hike the narrows in the summer. This trail goes through the river into the red canyon. The water gets deeper as you proceed. You can use a pair of shorts to do this hike or rent the equipment.
I recommend staying inside the national park if possible. That would save a lot of daylight. Catching the sunrise and sunset would make the trip perfect.
We left for Page, AZ, soon after the hike. As it turned darker, the moonlight reflected off the snow. We stopped in the middle of nowhere for some stargazing. We reached Page for dinner. A few pictures from the day –