Zion National Park

Zion National Park is a southwest Utah nature preserve distinguished by it'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 the Zion Narrows wading hike.

This was our next stop after Bryce Canyon National Park, the two parks are only 73 miles apart - straight south on route 89 and then turn right (west bound) on route 9 to the park entrance. If you are staying in Springdale, UT like we did, you will have to transit the park to get to the city, as it resides on the western entrance to the park.

Interesting Zion National Park Facts
  • Zion’s elevation varies by 5,000 feet; Elevation ranges from 3,666 feet at Coalpits Wash to 8,726 feet at Horse Ranch Mountain in the Kolob Canyon section of the park.
  • Zion National Park’s geology features some of the tallest sandstone monoliths in the world
  • The Monument boasts canyons as deep as 500 feet and rock monoliths as tall as 450 feet.
  • Checkerboard Mesa’s distinct crosshatch pattern is due to wind and weathering.
  • The north face of the Great White Throne rim rises 2,350 feet from the Zion canyon floor.
  • Angels Landing is of the most daring hikes in the world.
  • The Watchman is a climber’s paradise.
  • Zion has one of the longest freestanding arches in the world; Spanning 287 feet, Kolob Arch is believed to be one of the longest arches in the world.
  • Zion comprises 146,597 acres, 229.058 square miles in size.
Zion National Park  Map
Where is Zion National Park located?

We drove down to Zion from Bryce Canyon National Park and came in the southeastern entrance (route 9) to the park.

Our goal for the first day was to visit the park's visitor center and then checkin to our motel in Springdale, UT.

We left our car parked at our motel, took the shuttle bus to the Springdale entrance and walked into the park. The visitor center was our first stop, but it was packed to the brim with visitors - so we decided to hike up the Riverside Walk.

Our second day goal was to take the park shuttle bus to the top of Zion Canyon scenic drive - which is "bus only". The shuttle bus stops at a number of places, each providing different hiking trails. Our first hike was the Lower Emerald Pool Trail. The shuttle bus stops at the Zion Lodge, and the trail head is just across the street from the lodge.

Temple of Sinawava to the Narrows

After our hike to the Lower Emerald Pool, we jumped back onto the free Zion Canyon shuttle and went to the top - the Temple of Sinawava. We then hiked up the Riverside Walk trail and then continued hiking to the first river crossing to see some of the best "narrows" sections of the North Fork of the Virgin River.

Nope, we did not go the rest of the way to see all of the Narrows as we did not have river shoes, nor enough water to keep us hydrated. So we reluctantly had to hike back and catch the shuttle back to the Visitor Center so we could head back to the motel and take care of our growing pile of dirty clothes!

You can see in this picture the people behind us starting to cross the Virgin River to begin their hike to the Narrows. The canyon is a bit narrow, hence the name.

Quick History Lesson: Geologist Grove Karl Gilbert was the first recorded man to travel the Zion Narrows, in 1872 as part of a government survey expedition led by Maj. John Wesley Powell (note; yes, the same person who explored the Colorado River down to the Grand Canyon). Gilbert made the trip on horseback, and it is believed he was the first to use the term "the Narrows."

Click here to view our Zion National Park Image Gallery.

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