I had to go back to my calendar and check how many days I spent in Zion National Park, because I can’t believe I managed to pack so much into only one day there.
During the low season visitors are able to drive their cars through the main part of Zion, however I was visiting in the very early weeks of their regular season which meant park shuttles were the only means of transportation through the main road. Because of this, I decided to start my morning out with the one hike on my list that I’d be able to drive to, the Canyon Overlook trail.
It’s indisputable that the best views in Zion National Park are on the world-famous Angel’s Landing trail. However at 3+ hours and with a few somewhat treacherous sections, I wasn’t comfortable doing that one on my own. A great backup option is the Canyon Overlook trail. It’s just one mile roundtrip and still provides a breathtaking view at the end.
That little bridge was the scariest part! I never trust that those things will hold me. Hiking for me is a constant battle between my fear of heights, and my strong desire to see things from higher vantage points. The struggle is real.
After the Canyon Overlook hike, I drove back into town for a bit of lunch, making a couple photo stops along the way. I wanted to avoid the hottest time of day before hopping onto the shuttle for a bit more exploration (unfortunately the light for photographs ended up being harsh well into the afternoon, whatcha gonna do.) It might have been blizzarding at home, but it was in the 80s in Zion, which I welcomed greatly.
Here’s my rental car for scale — no pictures could have prepared me for how astounding Zion truly is in person. Also, I love that my rental car had Pennsylvania plates. I come all the way out west, but had a part of the east coast with me the whole time.
The shuttle system in Zion is really quite convenient, although I imagine it gets crowded in the summer season. Not only is there a park shuttle that makes stops at every hiking opportunity, but there’s a town shuttle in Springdale that makes several stops in town before dropping you off at the park entrance.
My first order of business was to take the shuttle all the way to the last stop. This way I could enjoy the scenery along the way, and make some decisions about where I wanted to stop on the trip back. This didn’t work out completely as planned…I’m embarrassed to admit that the combination of the earlier hike, lunch, and the warm sun lulled me to sleep. I woke up at the last stop having missed much of the 45 minute trip there! No matter though, a little nap was just what I needed to rejuvenate myself for the rest of the afternoon.
The last shuttle stop is at the Temple of Sinwava, which includes a flat riverside trail that eventually leads to the famous Narrows trail. The Narrows was closed when I was there due to snow melt, not that I had planned on doing it this trip!
After this little hike, I hopped back on the shuttle and decided to hike the Emerald Pools trails at The Grotto stop. If memory serves, the lower trail was closed (they were rebuilding the path after a ) but that was fine by me, as I wanted to get a bit higher up. Just like the last trail, this one was quite heavily trafficked. Sometimes it can be a bit frustrating running into so many people, but honestly I don’t mind it when I’m alone. It makes me feel a bit safer knowing there’s lots of people around, although it does put a damper on enjoying nature when a group of college students walk by blasting rap out of a portable speaker…
Still, I really enjoyed this one! Not hard at all (I saw many children along the way) and great views from the top! Well, from the middle. I had only planned on hiking to the middle falls, which is exactly what I did. I know I didn’t do any particularly crazy hikes this day, but between those and driving 6+ hours the day before, I was feeling pretty beat.
I really hope I can make it back to Zion National Park again someday. It is absolutely stunning, and I know I only scratched the surface! Next time, Angel’s Landing for sure.
Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon