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Ways to Make

Zion National Park

Zion National Park



Due to the worldwide pandemic, please check for destination travel restrictions prior to visiting/booking

This park has it all, mountains, slot canyons, water, hiking and wildlife. It's best to visit off season to beat the crowds (nearly 4 million visit per year) and the heat. If you do visit during the summer, the river access makes the summer heat bearable and the shuttle made transportation a breeze. We recommend starting the day early to avoid crowds. Don't leave your bag unattended, the squirrels are smart!

Canyon Overlook Trail

1.0 mi. RT is listed but it felt longer

Our family considered this hike a "must do" because the the interesting varied terrain of the hike and the amazing views at the end. We recommend seeing it first thing in the morning due to relatively no shade along the way.  The ranger recommended watching the sunrise here to see the sun hit the peaks.

This trail is well maintained and moderately crowded.  There are steep areas and railings so watch the little ones on this hike.  There is ample seating at the viewing area at the end. The parking lot is on the right just outside of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel heading east on Hwy 9 out of the park.

Emerald Pools

3.0 mi RT (to upper pools)

Do this hike early in the morning for an empty and well shaded walk. The terrain was relatively easy until a short scramble at the very end to the upper Emerald Pool. The lower loop pools stretch offered one of the highlights of the hike, walking behind a waterfall. The upper Emerald pool surrounded by sheer 300 foot cliffs was too grand to capture with one photo. You can access the hike from the Zion Lodge Shuttle stop.

Court of the Patriarchs

0.2 mi RT

This hike was worth the short uphill hike from the shuttle stop to the view of these peaks.  We waited just a few minutes at the shuttle stop before another shuttle came by.

Watchman Trail

2mi RT, about 2 hours

This hike isn't as well traveled but is one of the best places to watch the sunset and offers expansive views of the valley. The terrain is rocky with intermittent moderately steep climbs, so bring your high ankle hiking boots and trekking poles. Access from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.

Pa'rus Trail

3.5 mi RT

We partially hiked the trail, going 2 miles RT from the Visitor Center to the Nature Center to enjoy a ranger talk and then back again. This was an easy walk on a flat trail along the Virgin River.  We found a few places to head down and play in the water.  Very refreshing on a hot day!

Riverside Hike

2.0 mi RT

This is a well traveled, crowded nearly level trail that takes you from the Temple of Sinawava to the entrance of the Narrows along the Virgin River. There were many places to access the river. We stopped at the end of the hike to let the kids play in the water. Access it from the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop

Secret Petroglyph Canyon Trail

This hike isn't listed in too many places so I'll follow suit and not give specific directions because that seems to be the best way to keep it safe. If you do find it please be respectful of the petroglyphs!

Once you get close, walk through the tunnel in the sand, across the slanted rock and turn left at the dead tree.  My older daughter recognized the petroglyphs from a textbook.  They are well preserved and amazingly detailed!

Camping at the Watchman Campground

We had site #21 in the tent only D loop.  This campground had pretty good shade and the sites on this outer loop had great views of Watchman Mountain.  The mountains are so spectacular that there really isn't a bad site in the campground.  The vibe here was lively and everyone was friendly.  The bathroom hand dryers were really loud so keep that in mind when choosing a site.  The bathrooms had nice counter space. When we visited there was a campfire ban due to the dry conditions. It was so dry our brea dried out to almost toast level within minutes of being out of the bag.

Additional Tips

  • The shuttle is free and runs frequently, check the schedule to know when the first and last shuttles are. A full loop takes about 80 minutes.

  • The Nature Center had air conditioning and free wi-fi.  It offered a nice place to rest (and nap) during an excellent, engaging kids ranger program.

  • The nearby Sol Market was adequate for groceries.

  • The Zion Outfitters had coin operated laundry and token showers. 

  • Try dinner at Thai Sapa. We recommend the Springfield stir fry and the Pad Thai.  The bathrooms at this restaurant were the best we had been in on the trip.

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