Zion National Park – Utah: Le petit Guide
Zion National Park and these wonderful hikes: the first national park created in Utah. Often we visit it with Bryce Canyon because they are relatively close. Zion is divided into 3 parts: Zion Canyon (most beautiful, best known and most visited part: canyon that runs along the river The Narrows), Kolob Canyons (least visited part of the park) et Kolob Terrace (between the other two parts). Hikers or nature lovers will be delighted. Indeed this park is known for its deep canyons to visit and for its fauna and flora (you will easily see deer, sheep, squirrels etc…). And in addition to seeing superb panoramas, you can go on hikes that are out of the ordinary.
E N V O I T U R E
The easiest way is to get to Zion National Park by car. There are several entrances to access this park, which are joined by a tunnel (pay attention to size restrictions if you have a motorhome). The most popular entrance is the southern one (par Springdale) to directly access Zion Canyonthe place to see in Zion.
Inside Zion Canyon can only be visited by shuttle bus. You will therefore have to leave your car at the entrance or in the park in a car park provided for it, and go to the viewpoints or to the shuttle rides. This system makes it possible to unclog the park and is a strong point for the environment! In addition, the shuttle system is very well run: every 10 to 15min.
Zion Park is part of the Beautiful pass (pass valid for 1 year, $80, which allows you access to a large number of American national parks, to be purchased during your first visit to one of the parks).
WHEN TO VISIT ZION NATIONAL PARK
M A I A N O V E M B R E
Zion can be visited year-round. The best time is May to November. We were there in August, it was hot (40° in the afternoon). Be careful, the month of August is conducive to thunderstorms and therefore to floods in the canyons. July and August are also the most touristic months.
WHERE TO SLEEP IN ZION
In Zion Canyon, you will find only one hotel, the Zion Lodge, open all year round. Of course, you have to book in advance. Otherwise just before the entrance to the park, in Springdaleyou will have a multitude of hotels (at relatively high prices).
Otherwise, you also have the campsites! In Zion Canyon there are 2:
- Watchman Campground : on reservation, $20 per night.
- South Campground: without reservation, on the 1st come, 1st served system. $20 per night. From our experience, we advise you to arrive there early in the morning, especially in July-August and on weekends. Indeed, we took “a door” for the 1st evening (on a Saturday, in August too, we are looking!!)
The points to see are all located in Zion Canyon. Zion Canyon is a long, dead-end valley carved out by la Virgin River and bordered by very high cliffs. There is a road, served only by shuttles, which allows you to go up this canyon and which allows you to access the various viewpoints and hikes.
They thought carefully about Zion National Park: all the points ” have “ are in fact shuttle stops! Thus, starting from the bottom of the canyon, you will find as successive points:
- Temple of Sinawava: Already, let’s be clear, you won’t see a temple there! They named the whole area at the end of the shuttle route “temple”. Several hikes start from there, including The Narrows.
- Big Bend: It is the ideal spot to have a beautiful point of view on them 2 Biggest Sights and Attractions in Zion: Angels Langing et The Great White Throne.
- Weeping Rock: Starting point for several hikes. From here you will also see the largest of the hanging gardens.
- The Grotto: nothing exceptional in this place, except the fact that it is the starting point of several paths (Angels Landing for example). Here you will also find a shaded picnic area and several accesses to the river to go soaking after a good day of hiking.
- Zion Lodge: The stop serving the Zion lodge… This is the only place in the canyon where you will find a snack bar, a bar and a souvenir shop.
- Court of the Patriarchs: a stop that serves a path that will allow you to have a view of the gigantic cliffs of the Canyon.
- Canyon Junction: stop that allows you to access the Pa’rus path, which can be done by bike.
- Zion Human History Museum: museum that includes exhibits related to Zion Park.
- Zion Canyon Visitor Center: it is in fact the departure/arrival of the shuttles, at the southern entrance to the park. Do not hesitate to enter the Visitor center. Indeed, the rangers are there to advise you for hikes, will give you the weather forecast. You can also get maps and guide on the park (map, hikes etc …)
ZION NATIONAL PARK HIKES
As we told you, hiking enthusiasts will be served in this park! Here is a summary table of all the possible hikes to do in Zion Canyon. Don’t forget to ask the rangers in the Visitor Center about the weather and access to the hike before you commit.
We did the 2 most “original” hikes offered by this park:
Angels Landing Trail:
C’est THE hike from Zion, which brings you to a beautiful view of the canyon. It is a difficult hike because the end of the path is on a small narrow ridge (3m wide in some places), with 300m of empty space on each side. Even if there are barriers to hold on to, this hike remains complicated if you suffer from vertigo. Don’t take any risks, or make others take any, if you are afraid on this end of the road!
This hike is done in the Virgin River. There are no paths and you go spend all the time walking in water. The risk of this hike are les Flash Floods: i.e. rapid water rises in the canyon, due to storms.
Find out well before you leave about the latest weather forecasts.
You will gradually sink into this increasingly narrow canyon and increasingly gigantic cliffs. In total, we walked 20km A/R, for 6 hours (breaks included). The last 3 km are done with small swimming parts. But know that you can turn around at any time. Already, if you walk until the canyon splits in 2 (after about 7km), you will have had a great ride and you will not get wet above your thighs!
This hike is in itself nothing very complicated. The only thing that has made it difficult is walking in water (not always very hot), brave the current a few times and walk on pebbles. We advise you to take a stick and above all to put your belongings in a waterproof bag. Campsites, hotels can rent you canyoning sticks and shoes to walk in the water.
Although Zion will satisfy many hikers, the surroundings of this park will also offer you superb hikes.
Thus, we had a nice walk in the Canaan Montain Wilderness. This site is located south of Zion National Park, 45min drive. It is a huge area that includes multiple canyons and a large plateau. You will see huge cliffs, arches, hoodoos and also “White Domes”. But above all, you won’t see anyone there!!!
This hike is difficile because it has a strong elevation gain and no marked paths. You will need to be helped footprints, of a few cairnsof a GPS and to have a good sense of orientation and observation to find your way. The purpose of this hike was to climb to the plateau of Cannan montain via the Water canyon, to walk on the plateau to the White Dome and back down through the Squirrel canyon. Like that, on paper it looks simple. But in reality, it was another story. Indeed, we never found the way to go down through the Squirrel canyon, and after 6 hours of walking, we had to do half everything. In total, we will therefore have walked 10 hours, done almost 24km, and 1200 of D+.
Here is the map of this hike, which can really be useful to you!
In short, a perfect hike for people accustomed to adventure and who like to walk off the beaten track.
For information, there is a campsite that can only be booked on Airbnb, just at the start of this hike.
We loved our time in Zion. This park allowed us to do atypical hikesin grandiose landscapes. We advise you to spend at least 2 days there, enough time to do a few hikes and cover the entire Zion Canyon.
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The article Zion National Park – Utah: The Short Guide first appeared on Romlands.