After checking out Horseshoe Bend, Zion National park was a short two hour drive to Utah. This was a last minute add in, but I couldn’t resist with it being so close! Luckily there was a campsite that opened up. I thought it was odd that at about 20 miles out my GPS was still saying 45-50 minutes from the destination. As you can see from the featured photo above, the roads wind back and forth. You also enter the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel that is a little over a mile. They only let traffic through one way at a time. Originally, the bridge was created so that Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon could be accessed directly from Zion National Park. I was really excited for the hiking at Zion, and I was surprised at how busy it was. The first trail hiked was called Weeping Rock. It’s a short, paved hike with a steep incline. In 0.2 mi (one way) you ascend 98 feet.
This short, paved trail takes you to rock aclove with dripping springs. My favorite part of Zion was all the greenery! Its a unique ecosystem; desert, but also swamplands and there are dripping springs everywhere.
Once again, pictures or film cannot do it justice. Here you can see the water dripping over the rock alcove. After getting warmed up at Weeping Rock, I was excited to hike next to the Virgin River during the Riverside Walk. This trail is 2.2 miles roundtrip and has little change in elevation (57 ft). There’s lots of shade and its paved for the most part. It leads to a hike called the “Narrows,” where you follow the Virgin River though the most narrow part of the Zion Canyon. In order to hike the Narrows trail, you have to walk upstream in the Virgin River; they have equipment that you can rent to do so, or you can bring your own. I’d like to go back and do it!
This picture was taken just past the Riverside walk and leading into the Narrows.
On the Riverside Walk, the Virgin River is accessible throughout the hike.
On the way back, there were hikers taking breaks on the rocks, enjoying the coolness of the water!
Even though children and adults play in the river, this is considered graffiti. An employee came and put the rocks back, and stated that this messes up the ecosystem.
I really enjoyed the abundance of accessible water at this park, so I wanted to hike to the lower and middle Emerald pools.
You can barely see the water, but it was there. This was taken at the Lower Emerald Pool; its 0.6 miles one way with 69 feet in elevation change. If you keep following the trail, it leads you to the Middle Emerald Pool.
There was more water at the Middle Emerald Pool.
This water was nice and cool; children were playing in it!
This is also from the Middle Emerald Pool. The water was clear and cool, and you could visibly see the algae and tadpoles! The Middle Pool is 0.4 miles further and you climb 150 additional feet; its a little more strenuous than the hike to the lower pools.
If you keep following this trail, it connects to the Grotto trail. The Grotto trail gives you great views of Zion and the Virgin River.
This picture was taken along the Grotto trail. You can see how luscious Zion is!
This picture was also taken along the Grotto Trail.
This hike was done later in the day, and it was not in direct sunlight. It was beautiful with rewarding views.
The next morning, before heading to Sedona, AZ I was looking forward to the iconic Zion Canyon Overlook Trail. This trail is not accessed via shuttle, like the others. Its just east of the Zion Mt. Carmel tunnel, and its a mile round trip with 163 foot elevation gain.
This picture truly captures the intimacy of Zion National Park. Upon entrance, you are in the canyon and you are surrounded by its luscious mountains. This was my favorite place camped, because every direction you looked, there are mountains. Zion is unique with its multiple ecosystems that surround you. It’s also nice meeting humans that are happy hiking the trails; I even met a future blogger! Zion has a sense of seclusion being surrounded by mountains, so it feels like you’re out there enjoying life and losing track of time. I’d definitely recommend making time to camp here, and I can’t wait to go back!! One day here is not enough!