Zion National Park is by far our favorite national park.The scenery includes canyons, arches, rock formations, rivers, slot canyons, emerald pools, waterfalls, desert, remote wilderness,and abundant wildlife. This national park is out of this world (it actually looks like Mars or something). Continue reading to discover what this park has to offer.
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Angels landing is one of the most popular hikes at Zion National Park. It is a strenuous 5 mile round trip hike with an outstanding reward at the end. After reaching the summit, you will have gained 1,500 ft in elevation! This hike is arguably one of the best short hikes in the United States. The assent to the peak of this beast is not one for the light hearted. This hike has sheer drop offs every direction you look it seems. At one point in the trail it turns from a hike into more of a rock climb. You are literally scrambling up the side of a cliff with only a chain to hold on to. After all the scrambling, crawling, and climbing, you finally make it to the summit which has one of the most beautiful views we have ever seen. The total hike time is between four and five hours depending on how quickly you are moving. Do not let the difficulty or the fear stop you. This is one of the most rewarding hikes you will ever experience.
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The trail to Kolob Arch is a 14 mile round trip hike. This stunning natural phenomenon is the second largest arch in the world, measuring 287 ft in length. The arch itself is inaccessible to visitors. Although you can’t go play on the arch, the trail that leads to it gives the hikers a great view of its enormous stature. This hike is rather strenuous, but the reward is well worth the effort.
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At a mere 0.5 miles in length, Weeping Rock Trail is the shortest hiking trail in the park. This trail is well maintained and heavily traveled due to its short length and beauty. Although it is short, this trail is steep and slippery due to the water from the spongy moss that surrounds the trail and the streams and waterfalls that surround it. Also, water “weeps” from the rocks along this trail, hence the name “weeping rock”. This is a very pleasant and beautiful hike, and we recommend it if you have time during your visit.
We can’t even begin to portray how much we love the narrows hike at Zion. This one is our very favorite hikes that we have ever done. You will be walking in ankle deep water for up to 16 miles with cliffs that are hundreds of feet tall all around you. The stream that you will be wading through is the very water that has cut this slot canyon over the past hundreds of years. This hike is truly stunning and it is a very easy hike (if you don’t mind water). It’s an “in and out hike” meaning that you take the same route in and out. This might sound like it would be repetitive on the way out, but simply turning around opens up an entirely different hike with different views, rock formations, and boulders to look at. There are many small caves along this hike that you can sometimes climb up to and explore (at your own risk). This hike is truly amazing and we could never do it justice just by writing about it. There are, however, a few downfalls to this amazing hike. One disappointing thing is that it is somewhat dangerous. Due to the surrounding geography of the area, the narrows trail acts as a natural funnel for all of the existing rainfall. This means that if it has been raining or there is a high potential for rain, we would advise not to venture into the narrows. If it rains heavily and you are in the middle of the hike you could find yourself caught in a flash flood, which can be life threatening. Another disadvantage to this hike is the river itself that flows through the naturally cut groove in the rock. It is sometimes pretty deep and hard to cross without getting pretty wet. I think the water came up to my hips at the highest, which, for a 6’2’’ person is not too bad, but for younger children it could get a little sketchy. Regardless of the disadvantages, this hike is absolutely amazing and we would advise almost everyone to try it.
-The Emerald Pools
The emerald pools are one of the most popular attractions at Zion. There are several trail options that will take you to see the emerald pools that vary in difficulty and length, however all of the trails lead to the emerald colored pools and cascading waterfalls which attract so many visitors each year. There are three different pools (lower pool, middle pool, and upper pool). These pools are absolutely stunning and are a must see when visiting Zion National Park.
-Zion Canyon Overlook
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This is a short (1 mile) hike with big rewards! This short and easy hike leads to some of the most breathtaking views in the park. The trail is 1 mile in length and the elevation change is only 100 feet, so it isn’t terribly steep.The name of this trail is pretty self explanatory, the views from the summit of this trail overlooks the entire canyon, providing jaw dropping images of the surrounding “mars-like” landscape and excellent photography opportunities. We recommend taking this hike, you won’t regret it!
Zion National Park offers a multitude of climbing opportunities that vary significantly in difficulty. There are 273 total official climbing routes, however the majority (67% to be exact) are trad climbing routes. There are also opportunities for toprope climbs, bouldering, lead climbing, and multi-pitch climbs. These walls are primarily high quality sandstone, which are fantastic for climbing. Be on the lookout for tarantulas in the small ledges and crevices of the rock face. I almost fell off of the wall when I sat on a small ledge, only to discover that I was sharing my resting spot with a massive hair covered spider with death emanating from its multiple black eyes (I survived, so don’t worry).
A $15 bivy permit is required for each wall that you do, so limit the variety of climbs if you have shallow pockets. The classic (popular) climbing routes in Zion include Namaste (5.11 d) located in Kolob Canyon, Monkeyfinger (5.12) located in the Temple of Sinawava,and The Moonlight Buttress (5.12) located in the Moonlight Buttress.
If you are a hardcore adventurer (we like to think that we are), then this museum may not be high on your priority list. The variety of exhibits are primarily based around American indian culture and history, as well as the history of Zion National Park and how it became what it is today. Reasons for visiting the museum include: boredom, curiosity, surplus of free time, you brought your parents/grandparents, you’re on a field trip, your dog ran in there, you like history, or someone dared you. This park is full of many adventurous things to do, however, all jokes aside, if you would like to know how the canyons were formed it can actually be a very educational and neat place to visit.
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Zion National Park contains three of their own campgrounds. Campgrounds “South” and “Watchman” are located in Zion Canyon. The “Lava Point” campground is located on Kolob Terrace Road, about a mile from Zion Canyon. Camping is very popular at Zion, and the campgrounds fill up extremely fast, so arrive super early to claim spots that are freeing up or come when the park is not super busy like the middle of the week in the dead of winter. There are several private campgrounds that are also available, however they are a short drive from the park. These include: Zion Canyon Visitors bureau, St. George Area Visitor Bureau, Kane County, Utah (Kanab), and East Zion Tourism Council. There is also the opportunity to camp in the Zion wilderness on a backpacking trip, however you would need to apply for a backpacking permit. We suggest applying several months in advance, because the demand for these permits is high and incredibly competitive.
11 thoughts on “Things to do at Zion National Park”
Zion National Park ranks near the top of places we want to visit. The hiking here looks incredible. We’ll make sure to keep these highlights and tips in mind for when we eventually make our way over to Utah.
Thank you, we highly recommend it!
Utah is one of my favorite states for sure. Great post.
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We visited Zion about 10 years ago and loved it too. Thanks for visiting The Glasgow Gallivanter.
I wish I would have had more time to spend in this park. It’s the one with the coolest vibe I’ve been to by a long shot.
Same here, Zion is unreal!
Recently been to Zion and while we didn’t do any serious hiking, we enjoyed the park tremendously!
Glad to hear it!
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I’m so happy I stumbled upon this! I’m in the beginning stages of planning a Zion trip, and have been trying to plan (or rank) the hikes I want to do. I appreciate your insider tips! Lovely photo of the Emerald Pools.
Awesome, it’s definitely a one of a kind place to visit. Enjoy!