Traveling thru Utah means you get the chance to explore many national parks. There are 5 to be exact. But, exploring Zion National Park is one that is a must.
I’ve already shared about Bryce Canyon National Park which is also a must. But, Zion National Park has beauty found nowhere else and it is incredible.
Exploring Zion National Park
While on our winter travels in 2021 and heading thru Utah, Zion National Park was on our list. The last park we hit on our way to Arizona. Being we have a huge RV we found a place outside the park entrance. Nothing fancy, but a place to park. We stayed in Mt Carmel Junction, basically in a parking lot. It’s was a bit odd, but safe and close to the Zion National Park entrance.
East Zion RV Park was our home for a couple days. It was clean and felt safe. Basically a parking lot with a few trees and RV hook ups. There are some campers there that looked as if they were lived in year round. The road heading to Zion National Park was right there and nice to take the dogs for a walk on. Bonus, it was very reasonable per night.
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Zion National Park in Utah, is a naturalist’s dream. Containing some 290 or so species of distinct animals it is an amazing place of sandstone red and deer tan contrasts sharply against the coniferous trees, cottonwood, Cacti, and willow. It is a diverse, and unique area of the world with an abundance of plant and animal diversity.
The plant and animal life in the park is partially due to the diverse merging distinctly different areas. The Great Basin, the Mojave desert, and the Colorado Plateau. Filled with close to 300 bird species, 20 types of bat, more than 30 reptiles and seventy five different mammals, including the Mountain Lion, The Golden Eagle and the recently reintroduced California Condors.
The mule deer in Zion are unique, and some even friendly. As we were hiking a trail we spotted a few grazing up in the woods. One of the deer was on the trail and came walking right up to my husband. However, we didn’t feed the deer, it did sniff his hand.
The Road Thru Zion
Zion is open year round but and can be traveled by car. Large campers, RV’s and busses must only travel when escorts are present. There is a fee to enter and travel thru Zion National Park.
Enter Zion on Mt. Caramel Highway (SR-9) gives you an amazing and beautiful journey thru the park. Going thru tunnels and viewing breathtaking scenery will have you in total awe. This is a 14 mile ride (Scenic Byway) and one you will never forget.
The most prominent feature, cut by the Virgin River, is the 15 mile long canyon, the Zion Canyon.
Inhabited for over 8000 years by Indian tribes of various kinds, it was settled by Mormons in the 1860’s it became a national park in the early 20th Century. The Zion Canyon and the Kobold arch (so named after the nearest star to God, according to Mormon religion) are two of the most stunning sites of the park, and are breathtaking and amazing and well worth the visit.
There are various hikes that you can take through the grounds ranging from gentle hikes that you can take in a morning, to all day walks that challenge your stamina and fitness and takes you through the best parts of the park.
While hiking I took a short video of a unique rock stairway. Check it out here.
Hiking Guide in Zion National Park
Most people who venture out to explore national parks do so because they love to hike. Hiking isn’t for everyone, but there is a hiking trail for every level of hiker at most national parks. Zion offers some great hikes, like these below.
These hikes are more family friendly and can be done in a short amount of time. Taking kids on these hikes is a great way to show them Zion, without tiring them out to much.
Canyon Overlook (1 mile)
Emerald Pools-Lower (1.2 miles)
Grotto Trail (.6 miles)
Kayenta Trail (.89 miles)
Many Pools Hiking Trail (2.3 miles)
Pa’rus Trail (3.5 miles)
Riverside Walk (2 miles)
Watchman Trail (3 miles)
Weeping Rock (.4 miles)
A hike that is still easy, but might take a bit longer or have a little steeper grade.
Pine Creek Waterfall (.5 miles)
Sand Bench Loop (3.5 miles)
South – Taylor Creek Trail (2.2 miles)
Middle Fork – Taylor Creek (5.2 miles)
North – Taylor Creek Trail (6.25 miles)
Time to get serious, and make sure you wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring water. Longer hikes so hit up the restroom before venturing out.
Angels Landing (5 miles) (See note below regarding Angels Landing)
East Temple Saddle (2.3 miles)
Hidden Canyon (2.2 miles)
Kolob Arch (14 miles)
Observation Point (8 miles)
Right Fork North Creek (11.5 miles)
West Rim Trail-In And Out (10 miles)
West Rim Trail-SuperHike (14.5 miles)
Wildcat Canyon (10.5 miles)
Might have lots of steep climbs and rocks. Could be slippery, or even a bit scary. Take a walking stick for stability along some of these technical hikesMineral Gulch (16 miles)
Orderville Gulch (11 miles one way)
Parunuweap Canyon (29 miles)
The Subway (9.5 miles)
Hiking Angels Landing now Requires a Permit
Over the years the number of hikers drawn to Angels Landing has rose to over 4.5 million as of 2019. Because of this Zion National Park will now require reservations to hike this trail.
Two lotteries will be held each year. You can enter the season one or the one day ahead one. The cost is $6 per person to enter the drawing. If you win, you pay another $3 per person fee.
There is a section called the “chain section” on this trail. Permits will apply specifically to this part.
As of right now (12/8/2021) there is no word on how many people will be allowed per day. Keep an eye on this post for updates, or drop a comment and ask below.
What does Zion Mean
The name Zion means ‘protection’ in Hebrew. Its peace and tranquility is evident whether you’re hiking, driving through on the shuttle bus or exploring within the bounds of the lower steppes.
Tourism is encouraged throughout the year, but from April to October, the roads are closed within the park to all but shuttle buses. In part, this is to protect the roads running through the park, but its also to keep an close reign on where the visitors go.
Final thoughts on Zion National Park
When in Utah, you must visit one or all of the national parks. Zion was by far our favorite, but we also loved Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon. While we drove thru Capital Reef, we didn’t get a chance to see Canyonlands. Might have to venture to Utah again just to explore more.
There is absolutely no end to the beauty when traveling Utah.