Our first taste of Zion National Park was on our drive from Las Vegas, NV to Mt. Carmel Junction, UT. We had to drive through the park to get to the campground. We didn’t do much planning, and didn’t really know what to expect for that drive. Turns out there were a couple of tunnels in the park with limited clearance, and there are only certain hours during the day when rangers are guiding traffic through the tunnel. We had arrived about an hour after the rangers had already packed up for the day.
Fortunately, our travel trailer was not too tall to pull through the tunnels (with only about a foot to spare), but we still felt pretty nervous driving the steep switchbacks way up to the tunnels without knowing exactly what we had gotten ourselves into. Everything turned out ok, but we would have enjoyed the drive through the park for the first time if we weren’t so stressed about the tunnels. We did get enough of a preview to know that we were really going to love this National Park.
After spending the week working from the RV Park, we were more than ready to head back into Zion National Park. After work on Friday, we took a drive back through the park to go explore the Canyon Overlook Trail. Even through it was a short hike, it felt like an adventure. The path took us up a bunch of stairs, across a catwalk hanging from the rocks, ducking under some overhangs, and narrow paths along the edges.
The views at the end of the trail were even better than we had imagined. We definitely got a great view of the switchback roads we had been so nervous driving the weekend before. We sat up there for a while and just soaking in the amazing beauty. This trail is only about a mile round trip and is a must-do if you visit the park.
On our drive out of the park, we spotted some Bighorn Sheep along the road. We joined a couple other vehicles pulled over and watched them for a little while. What an epic couple of hours in Zion! We were excited to see what else this park had to offer the next time we visited. We would be back after spending our Saturday at Bryce Canyon National Park
That Sunday, following our day trip to Bryce Canyon, we came back to Zion to make a full day of it. This time, we started out at the visitor’s center to make sure we got a lapel pin for our collection. After eating our packed lunch, we made our way to the bus to take us to the trailhead for the Angels Landing hike.
I am not sure we knew what we had gotten our selves into for this hike. We had a ton of elevation to climb, and quickly found ourselves out of breath as we climbed the steep switchbacks. We kept each other motivated to get up to Scout’s Lookout, where the real challenge to get up to Angels Landing is.
The trail up to Angels Landing is very narrow and takes hikers right along the side of sheer cliffs. Most of the trail has chains to hold on to as you make your way up the rocks. This is one of the most popular hikes at Zion, and the crowds made that apparent. It was pretty slow going as we went up. It would get a little sketchy as people came back down past us because inevitably you’d have to give up a hold on the chains to let someone by.
We continued to keep each other motivated. We definitely wanted to try and make it to the top. There was not much opportunity to take a break, since there was a constant flow of hikers, so we pressed on.
We finally had a moment to take a break at a flat area about half way up the chains to the peak of Angels Landing. This rest gave us a moment to take in the views and snap a few pictures. After our rest, we looked up the rest of the way, and saw that it was a solid line of people to the top. We decided that we had had enough. Even though we didn’t make the top, we felt like we really had accomplished something that day. With no regrets, we started the long hike back down. It was about a 5 mile hike round trip with around 1200 ft of elevation change.
Even though we were exhausted from that strenuous hike, we didn’t want our day to end there. We took a short walk to the Zion Lodge to check that out. We ended up finding some souvenirs and gifts at the shop there. Still not satisfied with our day, we found another short hike to do.
We had heard so much about hikes through the Narrows, but unfortunately at that time of year they were closed to hikers because the current in the river was too dangerous. We decided to take the riverwalk to the start of the Narrows to at least have a look at it. The river was definitely really moving, but we did our best to get a look upstream. We sat by the water for a little while to relax, and take in the sounds of the flowing water. After taking a few pictures together we decided that we had finally seen enough that day and headed back to the RV Park.
The following Friday, we made another evening trip into the National Park. Our plan was to take the relatively short hike to Lower Emerald Pool. Most of the trail was kind of unremarkable. We did enjoy the part as you approach the pool, where you walk underneath a couple small waterfalls.
After that short hike, Steff wanted to stop as a bridge that had a really great view to take a few pictures. The sun was going down quickly, but we made it just in time to get a good shot. Since it was getting late, the bus has stopped running, so we had to walk the rest of the way back to the truck. We definitely underestimated how far it was back to the parking lot, and ended up hiking at least 20 minutes or so as it was really starting to get dark. We put a positive spin on it and called it our first night time hike in a National Park.
Zion National Park is nothing short of amazing. We found plenty to do while we were there, and like most parks we visit, just barely scratched the surface of what it had to offer. We were glad that we made it to the park before the peak tourist season. The spring brought enough crowds, I can not even imagine how crowded this park can really get.