Our Utah Summer Vacation Part II
|Visitors taking a break from heat outside the Zion Lodge|
BTW, if you missed Part I, you can read it here: Our Utah Summer Vacation Part I
For Part II of our summer vacation, we headed over to Zion National Park which is located in the South-Western part of the great state of Utah.
Having had so much fun in Bryce Canyon, we were really looking forward to seeing even more spectacular landscape and fun hikes in Zion, and Zion did not disappointed us.
It's super hot in summer. We went there in mid July and the temperature would get around 110-112 degree Fahrenheit by 11:00 am. It's better to get an early start in the morning when temperatures are still in the mid 70s and finish up most of the hiking by early afternoon, take a rest, get lunch, cool off, and then come back for more hiking in the early evening. That's how we managed to get some hiking done in extremely hot weather of over 110 degrees.
During summers, cars are not allowed beyond the visitor center unless you are staying in the lodge inside the park or have a special permit. There are free shuttles that take people to/from various hiking spots. When you pay for the park entrance fee, you will get a park map that shows all the key hiking trailheads that are on the shuttle route.
There is plenty of parking at the visitor center, but it gets full pretty quickly. So, get there early in the morning to find a good shady spot for your car. Other options are to park in nearby town (Springdale) and take a free shuttle to the park.
Other thing to note is that if you try to get on the shuttle from the main visitor center, the lines can be quite long. During peak season, it can easily take 45 minutes or longer to just get on a shuttle. We learned this the first day we were there, the next day we opted to skip the main shuttle stop at the visitor center and instead took a short hike to the next shuttle stop which didn't have any lines. That saved us quite a bit of time and pain of standing in a line while getting us started on our first hike.
Zion is all about hiking. Unlike Bryce Canyon, you can't just drive around to viewpoints to experience the beauty of the park. In Zion, you would actually have to hike to see anything worth seeing.
If you don't like hiking or can't hike due to medical reasons, good news is that there are a few very easy short hikes that are also wheelchair accessible and provide some great views of the park. One of them is RiverSide Walk which is basically a stroll along the river and is wheelchair accessible.
|This is the start of Narrows - A river hike that takes you deep into the canyon|
For people that don't mind hiking, there are hikes for all skill levels from easy to extremely strenuous and somewhat dangerous. Yes, there are hikes in the park where people have actually died by falling off the cliffs, so one has to be very careful embarking on those types of hikes and know their limits.
|A moderate but steep hike near the east entrance of the park|
|It was a bit scary going over these boards, but railing helped.|
|Steep drop along the trail and no handrails, can be quite nerving|
|Beautiful view of the Zion valley from top of a trail|
We are not extreme hikers but we do like to hike. I'm not particularly afraid of heights as long as I know that the trail is safe and within my physical limits. In other words, if there is something, like a handrail that I can hold-on to when climbing up steep hills then I'm mostly okay with heights.
The hikes we picked were rated easy to moderate. we didn't do any of the difficult hikes, mainly because those hikes can take an entire day and we only had 2.5 days in Zion, therefore we decided to go with the easier to moderate 1-4 hour hikes that allowed us to experience different parts of the park.
Hope you liked the pictures. If you are heading over to Zion, I would recommend you checkout Joe's Zion Guide as we found it to be very helpful: Joe's Guide To Zion National Park
Also, just to get a taste of what a difficult or scary hike at Zion looks like, checkout this YouTube video of Angels Landing at Zion (it will make your palms sweat): Angels Landing video