If you are lucky enough to explore Zion National Park, then you are lucky enough, according to One Planet Life Naturalist Yvonne Dwyer. An experienced park visitor, Yvonne is happy to share her insider’s guide as to what to explore at Zion National Park.
Located in southwest Utah, Zion National Park is an awe-inspiring nature preserve. Here are Yvonne’s tips for getting the most out of your visit.
Getting into the Park:
Use the free Zion Canyon Shuttle to travel into Zion Canyon. Each full shuttle reduces traffic by 28 cars. According to NPS @ Zion National Park, shuttles reduce vehicle miles traveled per day by over 50,000 and reduce CO2 emissions by over 12 tons per day.
Where to Stay:
Reserve a room six months in advance at the Historic Zion Lodge settled in Zion Canyon. If you prefer to camp, there are three campgrounds: Watchman, The Lava Point, and South. Senior/Access pass holders get 50% off the camping fee, which does not include the America the Beautiful Pass. Many of the first-come, first-served sites should be claimed first thing in the morning during the summer months. Campground restrooms have no showers or electrical outlets. Comfort stations provide flush toilets, drinkable water, and trash containers. Be aware: Zion gets extremely hot during summer, with little to no shade. There are very few riverside campsites along the Virgin River.
What to See:
- The Temple of Sinawava – a natural amphitheater, is known as the park’s hallmark. It is an easy 2-mile paved Riverside trail walk that follows the Virgin River upstream, leading to the Narrows.
- The Grotto – a shaded picnic area among cottonwood trees, is a great place to relax, read, or journal.
- Weeping Rock – Dripping springs create beautiful hanging gardens and mini waterfalls. It’s a steep hike but short – stunning views of Angels Landing and Big Bend.
- Zion-Mt Carmel Highway Tunnel – Built in the 1920s, this 12-mile scenic drive with spectacular views of the canyon below and the Great Arch connects Zion Canyon to the east side of the park.
- Canyon Overlook Trail – This one-mile trail has beautiful views of Zion Canyon. It begins at a higher elevation, is short, and the parking area is very limited.
- Checkerboard Mesa – On the east side of the park, the mesa has no running water, and bathrooms are scarce.
- Angels Landing – 5,700 feet above Zion Canyon, this is the most iconic and notorious rock formation in the United States.
- Court of the Patriarchs – You will find beautiful views of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob peaks – named by Frederick Fisher in 1916 for the biblical figures.
- Zion Narrows – Take a day hike on the gorgeous riverwalk with stunning sheer multi-colored rock layers and sandstone cliffs, natural springs, and hanging gardens with ferns, moss, and Columbine in nearly every turn you take. You will surely never forget this experience. Be aware: The Narrows is subject to flash flooding. Check the weather before hiking here, as storms can cause rising water levels. Hiking in the Narrows may involve walking, wading, or swimming in some areas. Be sure to bring a hiking stick and wear water shoes with an excellent grip. We wore Keen water shoes with a great grip (rocks are slippery) and wool socks because the water is cold (water shoes are available to rent), and permits are required for overnight camping.
Enjoy your experience and share your photos with us on Instagram @one_planet_life. Download the One Planet Life app to earn points for your nature journey.