Thursday, October 6, 2016

Awe and Wonder at Zion National Park

Growing up in the Midwest, I'm not sure Zion National Park was ever on my radar as someplace I had to go. When we decided to visit Utah, the first thing I found out was that I was pronouncing Zion wrong. I was saying Zi-ON and it's pronounced Zi-un like rhyming with Lion. Once I got that right, then I started planning and realizing that Zion was a must-do when visiting Utah. In fact, I loved it so much that it ranks right up there in my top 5 National Parks. And I'm pretty sure that it was my favorite place we visited on our Southwestern road trip - though it might be a tie with Antelope Canyon.






We drove to Zion from St. George, Utah - which is about an hour from the park. The tiny town of Springdale, Utah has risen up outside the park - and parking is tight. It wasn't easy to find a spot - and we were there in shoulder, and not high, season. Once we parked we walked to the entrance gate and paid our admission. We walked to the Visitor Center - which is an outdoor visitor center, cool! - and waited for the shuttle bus. 









Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles but there is a free shuttle bus available to visitors. We easily caught the bus and decided to ride it to the end of the line which is the stop for The Narrows. The Narrows is the famous hike through the narrowest section of Zion. The hike goes through a gorge with thousand foot walls and you will be wading through the Virgin River in spots.(Always, always check at the Ranger station for safety of hiking the Narrows. Flash flooding happens in the narrow canyons from storms and can be life threatening) So essentially it is a hike through water with no trail. Most people wear shoes that can get wet - obviously - and bring a walking stick to help you navigate the river. Mr. UR and I had flown to Utah and weren't quite prepared for the hike - but our son and girlfriend were ready. So we walked the short trail to get to the trailhead for the Narrows and waved goodbye to them. Then we walked back to the shuttle bus stop and headed to the lodge - it was time for a beer on the outdoor patio!













The patio we enjoyed was located at the trailhead for Angels Landing - the other famous hike in Zion. Called a bucket list experience, Angels Landing is a classic hike with a stunning viewpoint - and not for those with a fear of heights (read: me) It's a 3 to 6 hour hike following the West Rim Trail which takes you to a supposedly incredible viewpoint 1500 feet above the canyon floor. I'm guessing you already know we didn't attempt this one either. I think it's safe to say that the next time I visit Zion I would like to try the Narrows but it would take alot of psyching up for me to do Angels Landing.








Those are people and they are on the Angels Landing hike!

Our son and his girlfriend did the Narrows for a coupla miles - and videoed it so we could see what it was like - and then met us back on the patio. Both said it was awesome and worthwhile. 









The scenery in Zion was just phenomenal. The huge red sandstone cliffs made me feel incredibly small -  at one point Mr. UR and I were alone in the silence standing watching birds fly over the canyon. Just a feeling of awe and wonder.










We went on to drive the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and we later visited the Kolub Canyon area of Zion. But those are stories for another day. 




I'm so happy I was able to visit Zion - I just loved it. I'd love to go back. And I'm really glad that I'm pronouncing it correctly now!

Things to know about Zion National Park:
- Parking is incredibly tight. You can park in the town of Springdale and take the free shuttle bus to the National Park entrance.
- The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is accessible by free shuttle which includes climbing gear and at least 2 bicycles on each shuttle. They run everyday that the park is open.
-Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles.
- Flash flooding is common in the park - especially The Narrows - and can be life-threatening
-Dining is available at the Zion Lodge dining room and cafe.
There are also restaurants located outside the park in Springdale.
For more info go to www.nps.gov/zion

How about you? Have you been to Zion?Is it on your list?


This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Party!












16 comments:

  1. From the looks of our posts we were right down the road from each other. Next time we'll have to stop in Zion and Bryce.

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    1. Too funny! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I lived in Utah for two years and never made it down to Zions. It's on my list of places to go, though. #weekendwanderlust

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    1. I hope you make it there someday - obviously it's one of my favorites! Thanks for visiting!

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  3. Zion looks to be a remarkable place. I have it on my bucket list.

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    1. It is quite remarkable - the only other place it reminds me of that I've seen is Yosemite but thats because of the huge granite or in Zion's case, the sandstone. Hope you make it there someday!

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  4. Utah is #1 on my US wish list, great photos!

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    1. Thanks! It's an incredibly beautiful state, especially for desert landscapes. And thanks for visiting!

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  5. I have vivid memories from my visit to Zion. It was more than 10 years ago and I didn't see a lot of the park. However, what I saw was enough to understand the beauty of the place. I hope I can visit again soon.

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    1. I'm so thankful for the creation of the national parks - there's just something special about each and every one of them, isn't there? Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road, Ruth!

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  6. Hiking along The Narrows is on my wishlist. Not many hikes are on the list, so that's saying a lot for Zion -- which I've apparently been mispronouncing as well.

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    1. Ha Ha Michele, I'm glad I'm not the only one! And there aren't many hikes on my list either but this is one I would like to do. My son obviously takes after his father on the hiking thing. :)

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  7. Zion is high on my USA list. I've done some of the other Utah parks and they never fail to amaze me. The landscapes are just gorgeous.

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    1. I hope you make it there someday! I love the desert landscapes also! Thanks for visiting, Corinne!

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  8. So glad you enjoyed your visit to Zion! This is one of our favorites too. It's hard to beat the towering cliffs. I don't thibk I can do Angel's Landing either. Beautiful photos!

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    1. Thanks Mary! I really did love Zion - and I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't do Angels Landing!

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