Day #4 – Zion National Park
Zion National Park! This could quite possibly be one of my favorite places in the world! That’s a bold statement coming from me, but I absolutely fell in LOVE with this park.
It’s about an hour drive from Kanab to Zion. Parking within the park is limited (next to non-existent) so keep that in mind. I drove into the park (using my $80 annual park pass) and started my day at the Canyon Overlook Trail to see Overlook Point.
Canyon Overlook Trail
Canyon Overlook Trail is a relatively easy 1-mile hike to an absolutely GORGEOUS viewpoint! You’ll see the same viewpoint if you climb Angel’s Landing but this was an awesome way to start the day. Overlook Point has limited parking (maybe 15-20 spaces in a small lot and on the road) and you MUST get there early if you want to enter the park. Parking fills up REALLY EARLY at Zion and no cars are allowed in after that. I arrived at 8am and was fine.
Before you enter the park grab a map and know where you are. The signal is very weak (or non-existent) inside the park and getting lost can be easy (at least for me). Also note that when you pull out of Canyon Overlook Trail, there is a tunnel to your right… DO NOT GO THAT WAY! I did and it was a huge mistake. You want to go left.
Quick funny story… I got lost inside the park for over 2 hours and while I was freaking out and panicking, a herd of deers ran in front of my car and I had to SLAM on my breaks!!! It was terrifying!!! Between being lost, almost hitting the deer, and praying that the car behind me wouldn’t slam into me, this was a scary moment. Meanwhile, the car across the street casually stopped, got out, and took pretty pictures of the deer as they ran across the road. Be careful.
Park In Springdale (Sleep Here Too If You Can)
After circling the park, I got kicked out and had to park in Springdale, the town outside of Zion National Park. At first I was really annoyed by this (maybe it was the entire morning) but Springdale is awesome! This town is so cute and there is tons of parking. Get to the park early and just find a spot in Springdale. There are tons of free spaces on the street so don’t get tricked into paying $10+ in a lot like I did. There’s also a free shuttle bus that picks you up every 1/4 mile or so and brings you to the park entrance. You can walk or take the shuttle, its not that far.
Once inside the park, you will take the free shuttle (a different one) everywhere. There’s a map on the wall with 9 or 10 spots and you just ride it up and down the street. I think one-way takes about 45 minutes.
Inside the Park, Shuttle Suggestion
I rode the shuttle in one direction, got off at the further stop that interested me, and stopped at the other places as I made my way back down. Don’t zigzag and waste time, if possible.
There’s a reason they call this Angel’s Landing, not only is the summit pretty high at nearly 6,000 ft, but you’ll cross paths with death as you climb the chains 1/2 a mile up the mountain. I’m just kidding… Kinda…
What to Expect
Angel’s Landing is one of Zion’s most noted trails. Its about 5-miles roundtrip and you can expect an “easy” uphill hike for the first 2 miles, then a 1/2-mile climb. I say “easy” because even though the path is paved, uphill is never easy. Give yourself 3-6 hours for this hike.
Leave Your Walking Poles At Home
You may be tempted to bring your walking poles but I highly suggest you leave them behind. Once you get past the first 2 miles, there’s a 1/2-mile climb where walking poles will certainly get in your way. The climb isn’t too challenging, but definitely not for anyone with a fear of heights. The path narrows to 1 ft wide in some areas so you’ll definitely want to hold onto chains attached to the mountainside for assistance. To add to the stress, people will be traveling in both directions on the same path. I had to hug a few hikers as I passed around them and needed support from the chains.
Avoid Peak Times & Watch the Weather
If possible, try to start this trail early in the morning to beat the crowds. The more people on the trail, the scarier. It was pouring when I went and while there were few people on the trail, it was absolutely terrifying. There were points where the chains were frozen (it was cold out) and my hands were numb. There were also points where I was too scared to walk and slid down inch by inch on my butt.
Other Notable Trails
After Angel’s Landing, I rode to shuttle to the very last stop and hit a tons of trails. Some of my favorites included:
Super short trail. Maybe a 10-15 minute walk with a gorgeous “weeping” wall at the end. Rain collects inside the pores of the rock and drips out like it is crying. Its pretty cool.
Lower, Middle & Upper Emerald Pools
Another simple hike between 1.2mi – 3mi depending where you stop. I did the entire trail and it only took an hour or so. The land is lush, the pools and waterfalls are gorgeous. Don’t miss this.
The 3 Matriarchs
Wave hello and snap a photo as the bus passes by. There’s nothing to see or do here.
For a list of all the hikes available in Zion National Park, check out the official website here.
Post-hiking, hang out in Springdale and grab a bite to eat. This town is the perfect tourist town and after a full day of hiking, that’s exactly what you’ll need… a cold beer… a hot cup of tea… and a great meal!
The Adventure Continues…
Day 4 – Zion National Park (Angel’s Landing + other trails) ((you are here))
Have you climbed the chains of Angel’s Landing? What did you think?