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Zion National Park
Experience the Beauty of Zion National Park
Zion National Park, in southwestern Utah, is truly one of the most magnificent of America's national parks. It attracts nearly 2.5 million visitors each year.
As you enter the vast 229-square-mile expanse that is Zion National Park, you'll be awed by the amount of things there are to do and see here, especially if you're more adventurous than the average traveler.
Public domain photo from NPS Staff
Sandstone Formations at Zion
Avid national park visitors know that when you visit Zion, you need to look up to see the spectacular scenery, unlike the Grand Canyon, where it's necessary to look down into the canyon to see the amazing colors and formations.
At Zion National Park, the beauty is above the ground. The sandstone formations that have stood here for millennia boast the incredible colors of nature, from reds and browns to muted tones of white and gray and, it seems, nearly everything in between.
Rain has carved the rocks into interesting shapes as have the bodies of water that flow through Zion. You'll find spires, domes, and other formations that resemble things we find in everyday life. But there's nothing "everyday" about this national park.
Most visitors make their first stop the Zion Canyon Visitors Center, an excellent place to gather information about the history of the park, learn how to get around Zion easily, or pick up fliers on the activities and programs going on throughout the park. This is also a good place to grab a map.
The Visitors Center boasts an excellent outdoor interpretive center that will interest visitors of all ages. Lectures usually happen at this location and guided walks generally begin at the Center.
After a trip to the Visitors Center, many guests head to the main canyon, the most-visited section of the park, where the sights are spectacular and the terrain is easy to navigate. From here, you can access the 8-mile scenic drive via shuttle in the busy months of April to October and by automobile during the other months.
Hiking at Zion National Park
There are so many wonderful things to see in Zion but much of the park is only accessible to those who are willing to do a bit of hiking. Trails range from pretty easy to downright dangerous.
The National Park Service stresses the fact that all hikes in Zion, whether short or long, require advance planning to ensure your safety.
Many avid hikers head straight for The Narrows, where weather and flash flooding can be quite unpredictable. This is one of the most challenging sections of the park and the 12.5 mile hike will have you walking through water much of the time. Floods can occur without any notice so checking with rangers before hiking The Narrows is a must.
The Emerald Pools Trails also attract a large number of visitors, ranging from easy to moderate. Much safer than some of the other trails in the park, they provide views of crystal clear waterfalls and sparkling ponds.
Overnight backpacking trips require a permit and there is a fee for this activity as well.
More Information on Hiking at Zion
Lists and gives descriptions of trails of various difficulties and remoteness: easy trails, easy remote trails, and backpacking trails, as well as view points.
Extensive list of recommended hikes from "short and easy" to canyoneering routes. Includes detailed descriptions, maps, and photos.
Offers a printable map of the hiking trails at Zion National Park. Includes trail descriptions. From the National Park Service.
Provides extensive details about this strenuous hike. Includes photos and a topo map.
Other Activities at Zion
Just like hiking, mountain climbing is popular here as well, but demands experience as well as the proper equipment in order to protect both the park and the climber.
Bicycling is allowed in certain parts of Zion National Park. Maps should be consulted in order to locate bike trails.
From spring through fall, horse aficionados can enjoy guided horseback riding tours that take visitors to some of the most breathtaking areas of Zion.
Where to Stay
The closest city to the park is Springdale, Utah. As a matter of fact, the park pretty much surrounds the city, located near the Main/South Entrance. There are numerous hotels, motels, B&Bs, and inns located in Springdale. Other towns within 25 miles of the park offer a host of lodging options as well.
A few campgrounds are located inside the park. Some are first come/first serve, but for Watchman Campground, advance reservations are suggested.
When to Visit Zion
Most choose to make their way to Zion National Park in the summer months, when the kids are out of school.
Spring, however, is an ideal time to visit as the wildflowers are at their peak and the temperatures are moderate. Fall at Zion National Park is also beautiful, with cooler and more pleasant weather.
Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
This guide features fifty-nine of the best trails at these two national parks, from day hikes to backcountry treks. Includes trail descriptions, trail maps, route profiles, and difficulty ratings. Provides accurate directions to the trailheads.
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