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  • Writer's pictureBrian Childress

Zion National Park - Springdale, Utah

Updated: Jul 24, 2021

Zion National Park is part of the Southwest's "Grand Circle" of national parks, monuments, historical, and recreational areas. This Grand Circle is located on the Colorado Plateau, so-named because it is a large uplifted area of land in the Four Corners area of the Southwest through which the Colorado River flows. The Colorado Plateau contains one of the world's greatest concentrations of natural and cultural features, due primarily to its geology, revealed by the Colorado and other rivers.

Located in the southwest corner of Utah, this park is one of the most magnificent natural wonders in the world and also one of the easiest to access. Surrounding the small and quaint community of Springdale, Utah on three sides and only 2.5 hours from Las Vegas, 4 hours from Salt Lake City, and 6-7 hours from Southern California makes getting here and exploring easy and convenient. Touted by seasoned travelers as one of the most “user friendly” national parks in the country with a rare combination of elevation, wide open and level spaces, spectacular slot canyons, great year round temperatures, and an expansive river valley. The park attracts nearly four million visitors each year.

There are many attractions to see at Zion National Park but two of the biggest include:

The Narrows

The slimmest section of Zion Canyon is known as the Narrows and it's one of the park's most popular hikes. To experience it, set out from the Temple of Sinawava along the Riverside Walk for a one-mile, wheelchair-accessible hike that offers a good view of the Narrows. But if you want to go any farther, you'll be wading or even swimming upstream since the footpath turns into the Virgin River. Along the way, you'll enjoy towering views of the striated, orange-red canyon. Recent travelers recommend sealing any valuables in a waterproof bag, as the water can rise as high as your waist in some places. According to reviewers, you'll also need to rent or bring waterproof shoes as the rocky, slippery terrain cannot be traversed with bare feet. Hikers also suggest getting to the Narrows early to avoid the crowds. Most visitors hike the Narrows in the late spring or summer when the waters are at their lowest levels and warmest temperatures. But when storms are in the forecast, you should forgo this hike as the Narrows can fill quickly with life-threatening flash floods. You can rent equipment like water shoes, waterproof socks, and walking sticks in town from different companies.

Angel's Landing

Like its name alludes, the Angels Landing trail concludes at an elevated perch. Travelers will ascend 1,488 feet during the 5-mile round-trip hike, some of which features sheer cliffs and steep switchbacks that might make it mentally challenging to those with an aversion to heights. Those hikers should turnaround at Scout Lookout (which is also where the trail's restrooms are located), as the last bit of the trail to the landing involves grasping chains to keep your footing on the sheer drop-offs. This is a strenuous five-hour hike that's not ideal for children or anyone with a fear of heights, according to recent travelers. Reviewers also suggest tackling the hike midweek, since the trail gets crowded on weekends. The trail head for Angels Landing is located at the Grotto Picnic Area in Zion Canyon and it's most popular to visit during the spring, summer, and fall. Wintertime's icy conditions can make the trail treacherous, while summer afternoons can be sweltering. If you're hiking in the summer, start your trek early to avoid the midday heat. You'll find restrooms at the trail head; hikers should carry water and snacks in a backpack so that they'll have free hands to grasp the chains on the final ascent. Access to Angels Landing is free with park admission and reachable via the park's free shuttle.

Wildlife or sites to expect include 68 species of mammal ranging from the petite kangaroo rat to the sturdy, surefooted bighorn sheep. The most frequent mammal sightings are mule deer, foxes, bats, bighorn sheep, and rock squirrels

Our experience: No cons here. This is a must for hikers and people who love outdoors. Some of my closest friends and I made this trip in 2016. We hit many of the park locations but the Narrows and Angel's Landing were the big highlights for us. Hiking or wading through the waters and in the canyons of the Narrows makes you pinch yourself to ensure what you are seeing is real. I felt I was in an "Indiana Jones" film and it was exhilarating. Four of us made it to Scout Lookout where I had to stop because of my fear of heights as my three friends made it to the top at Angel's Landing. To be clear, that was one of my greatest regrets I have had since I started hiking. No downside on this park; this is one of the best national parks in the United States.

Park location and contact:

Zion National Park

1 Zion Park Blvd.

State Route 9

Springdale, Utah 84767

To Angel's Landing

Scout Lookout

Angel's Landing

The Narrows

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