Zion National Park was Utahs first registered park. Zion National Park by Ken Lane is licensed under Some Rights Reserved.
Zion National Park was Utah’s first registered park. Zion National Park by Ken Lane is licensed under Some Rights Reserved.
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Exploring the outdoors: Zion National Park

One vacation destination that should be on your bucket list is Zion National Park in Utah. Zion has breathtaking views, amazing hikes, and a variety of activities. Zion is my second favorite national park, next to Glacier. Zion has gorgeous orange, red, pink, and cream hues. It is a great place to stargaze, especially when you are away from light pollution. The park is open 24/7, but the shuttle systems only run for a good chunk of the day. Like the majority of national parks, you need a pass to enter the park. Passes differ in price depending on how often you plan on visiting the park.

Hikes
Hikes in Zion range from easy to strenuous, but all are equally worth visiting. You enter the park first and then take the free shuttle to all of the hikes. There are nine stops and different hikes and sites at each one. I have visited Zion National Park twice and have a few favorite hikes. Canyon Overlook Trail is an easy-to-moderate one-mile out-and-back hike. Weeping Rock is another short hike. It is .4 miles and a steep uphill walk. The next hike is the Emerald Pools Trail. The trail is 3.2 miles, and the hike is easy to moderate. There are lower pools and upper pools that you can hike to. The upper pools are a longer hike, but both are equally worth visiting. My favorite hikes in Zion are Angels Landing and The Narrows.

This view is from the top of Angels Landing which has an elevation gain of 1,500ft. (Photo used with permission from Noah Hacker)

Angels Landing is a strenuous 5.5-mile hike. You will need a permit to hike this trail because, at the end of the trail, you have to hike up a cliff. There are chains to hold on to, but it is dangerous. The view at the end is worth it, but you do not have to go up the chain if you do not want to. There are outdoor bathrooms located at the end of the hike before the chains, and there is a nice resting spot to take a break before you trek back. This hike is strenuous, and there are multiple switchbacks. It is better to hike this trail in the morning or later in the afternoon so the sun is not beating directly on you the entire way.

My other top hike in Zion is The Narrows. The Narrows is a hike through the Virgin River. There are two ways to hike this trail: from the bottom up, or the top down. If you go from the bottom up, the more popular way, there is a Riverside Walk trail before you reach the river. It is a quick 1.1-mile flat trail, and many people hike this rather than The Narrows. I recommend going in the morning for this hike before the sun is at its zenith.

Wall Street is located about 2 miles from the start of The Narrows. (Molly Simmons)

You should expect to get wet, and some parts go above the hips and can even come up to your shoulders. The water is cold, and I would recommend wearing a long-sleeved swim shirt with a tank or bathing suit underneath. Waterproof shoes are great for this hike. Right when you enter the park there is a shop called Zion Outfitter where you can rent water boots and sticks for the hike. We wore Keens, which worked very well. During the hike, you can go as far as you want and turn back whenever. Some popular places to stop at are further up the river. Wall Street and the North Fork are great places to turn around.

One hike that is on my bucket list for Zion is The Subway. It does require a permit, and you hike it from top down or bottom up. The hike is 9 miles round trip, and it is strenuous. You hike through the Left Fork of North Creek with water reaching as high as your knees. You can also canyoneer The Subway, but it is much more strenuous.

 

Activities
During down time there are a multitude of activities you can do outside of the park. I recommend canyoneering, walking around town, and driving around the park.

This collage includes pictures taken during canyoneering. The top left and bottom right are breathtaking views of the canyon. Top right is Luna, a red healer, and the bottom left is sophomore Autumn Simmons descending a cliff. (Molly Simmons)

Both times my family and I visited Zion we went canyoneering. Canyoneering included a hike along with repelling down rocks. Last summer we canyoneered with Zion Guru, and it was marvelous. Our guide brought his dog along with us. She would sit on his lap as he repelled the rocks.

You can canyoneer with or without a guide, however, I do recommend going with a guide at least for your first few times. My family and I often walked around the town of Springdale, which is just outside of the park. Springdale has many shops, restaurants, and lodgings. A few places I recommend eating at include Bit and Spur, Perks! (a cafe), Zion Canyon Brew Pub, and Whiptail Grill. My favorite place was Whiptail Grill, and I would suggest you stop there if you ever visit Zion. The town also has grocery stores, perfect for grabbing snacks or a few ingredients for a quick breakfast or lunch.

Another activity is driving around the park. When the shuttle system is down, you can drive Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. You can also drive through other parts of the park at any time of the day. There are quite a few places to stop and take pictures of the landscape. Zion is also a perfect place to stargaze with its open sky. If you ever want a place to vacation, I highly recommend Zion National Park.

 

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About the Contributor
Molly Simmons, Journalist
Grade: Senior Hobbies: Crossfit, Reading, and Cooking Car's Name: Raquelle Favorite Holiday: Halloween Dream Vacation: Okinawa