When I first looked up to the National Parks we could see, I wasn’t expecting Zion to be the one I would love the most. I thought I would prefer Bryce Canyon or the Grand Canyon. Well, travelling can prove you you are wrong sometimes and keeps surprising you.
Zion is located in Utah, three hours east of Last Vegas. It is known for it’s red cliffs and (we didn’t know) for it’s climbing possibilities. The canyon was created by the erosion of the rock because of the water flow. There is a river in the middle of the canyon, going around the cliffs that stills erodes the rock. Maybe in a few thousands years, the canyon will be twice the size it is now!
We didn’t really know how it would work to get in Zion National Park so we thought it would be like in the death valley: you can drive up to parking spots and then do the hikes and go back to your car and sleep anywhere. That is also what we did in Norway. Though, Zion is really different, and in a way it is a good thing. They are very well organized. We had trouble at first but when you understand how it works, it’s all for the best.
There are a few parking spots inside the park, but when I say a few, it is really a few like less than 50 maybe. There is one parking for people sleeping inside and maybe a few extra for others but that is not much at all. That means either you will have to go very early to be the first one there, or you will have to park in Springfield which is the closest city just at the beginning of the park.
When we arrived, around 1PM, we had no idea what will happen. We went to the entrance office and the girls tried to explain to us how it worked. We wanted at first to sleep inside the park but the spots are limited and you also have to get there very early to get a spot. In some parks you will be able to book online for campings but at that time of year and at Zion we couldn’t. Too bad because the closest camping we found was $60 per night for our Campervan.
Anyways, we parked at the camping and took a free bus to go back to the entrance office. We paid $30 for all the three of us (the national park card works too but we hadn’t buy it yet). The way it works in Zion is the following:
You usually park outside the park and then take a free bus to go to the entrance (if you are not parked in the main parking), and then another free shuttle to the hike start you want to go to. The shuttle is nice because while it drives around the canyon, it explains to you some stuff about how it got created and what happened there. We learned that the canyon was still in expansion because of water floods.
The shuttle runs every 15 minutes and it takes up to 45 minutes to go to the last hike which is called “The Narrows” and which I would have loved to do. For sure I will go back to do it. You have to walk for as long as you want inside the river. Depending on when you will go, it will be possible or not to do it. When we were, the water was 7°C and quite high and we were not equipped at all so we couldn’t really do it.
There is one thing to know about the shuttle though. It runs only until 7:30PM which means you will get to the entrance by 8:15ish. And the stupidest thing is that the other shuttle that goes back into town (and to the camping) only runs until 8:15PM. So we missed the last shuttle to go back to the camping. We had to walk for half an hour or so to get there. (You would have to check both timetables, it could change during the seasons).
The weeping rock
The first hike we did was in the middle of the park, it is called the Hidden Canyon. Actually, there is a very small walk of less than half an hour going a bit up that is called the Weeping Rock, under a small waterfall that you can do before hitting the big hike. I didn’t found it very useful… Maybe it has a nice view over the canyon but that’s it.
Ok, so this one I really wanted to do it because I saw some amazing pictures of it. I added one below from my favorite travel bloggers couple Miles&Love. You can find all their pictures and their article about the Narrows by clicking here.
The Narrows is a hike inside a river. You have to walk into the river. You could walk forever inside it but most people walk two hours and then get back. We walked half an hour to fourty-five minutes to get to the beginning of the track from where the bus left us (so it would be a total of 3 hours way and back for the hike inside).
The problem with the Narrows though is that you might not be able to do it considering the level of the water or if there is a risk of a flood. More over, if you go like us in March, the water might be too cold and you would need special equipment to go (which we did not have and that might cost a bit of money).
I was so sad we did not go. But I know we’ll come back so next time I’ll be prepared and it will be during summer hopefully!
The Emerald pools
There is two emerald pools in Zion that you can go see on one trail that separates in two at some point. Enchanted by what we saw during the Angel’s landing trail, we thought that we could do the Emerald pools right away after. In facts, the trail can start either at the same bus stop than the Angel’s landing trail or at the bus stop before.
Zion, Hiking, Climbing, Photographing.
We learned that there was a few climbing spots around Zion and we were not surprised. We saw quite a lot climbers inside the bus and even some on the wall of Angel’s landing. For sure Alexis wants to try 🙂
Zion is really the perfect place to take beautiful photographs thanks to the many different colors there. The red rocks, the green trees… I wish I would go back right now (I am editing this post I wrote two years ago now) with all the knowledge in photography I have now. Sun rises and sunsets there are a must.
Zion National Park was my favorite park of all the ones we did (and I know it’s Alexis’s too). It was just beautiful, full of colours and challenges. We did not do every hike but we will come back for sure. Alexis for climbing, me for the Narrows.