What if you were finally able to visit Zion National Park in Utah, but you only had one day to do it?
What’s worth hiking and seeing in Zion in one day that would give you an idea whether you’d like to come back for a more in depth visit or just give it a miss?
This is NO&YO‘s take on Zion in one day:
If you visit during the busy months of April through October, the only way to get around Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is by the Zion Park Shuttle. The shuttle is free from the parking lot but they fill up quickly, usually by 10am all spots are taken.
The shuttle stops at different stops throughout the Scenic Drive and you can get on and get off whenever you want, as many times as you want. So the first thing to figure out is what do you want to see and how strenuous do you want your hike to be. We opted for variety and chose few trails that we wanted to hike throughout the day, so that we can see the most of the different nature formations and charms that Zion has to offer.
We started at the end of the shuttle route at the Temple of Sinawava. We were drawn by the Narrows trail and wanted to spend as much time as possible hiking at the end of the Riverside Walk. Riverside Walk is a paved road along the Virgin River, which is pretty busy since it’s one of the easier and wheelchair accessible roads in the park. However at the end the river takes over and actually becomes the trail and that’s where The Narrows path begins.
Before you start and depending on the month in which you’re visiting, you may want to check the water levels and see if The Narrows is even accessible. The narrows is about 10 miles long but you can really hike as long as you want and turn around at any point. The hike through the water was refreshing since everywhere else it was hot at around 90+ degrees and here the water and the shade of the canyon kept us cool.
The river is smooth and easy walk at some places and at others you definitely will get wet. Bring shoes that you can walk in because the river bottom is very rocky, uneven and flip flops don’t suffice in the stream.
The second stop after the refreshing Narrows was a combination of several trails. We took the shuttle to the Zion Loge shuttle stop and went for the Upper and Lower Emerald Pools trails. We saw what we would not have expected in a dry hot environment such as Zion: beautiful waterfalls, tarantulas, and cliff views for miles. The trails are a steeper ascent but they are pretty easy to maneuver and don’t take as much time as the Zion guide suggests. We descended via the slowly winding Kayenta Trail and then returned to Zion Lodge shuttle stop through the easy Grotto trail.
At the end of the day we decided to take a final path to the unforgettable sunset overlooking the Watchman Mountain. The trail starts at the Visitor center and after making a short loop in the canyon, Watchman Mountain will be the last formation to catch the setting light of the sun. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight for the trip back!
For every one the initial visit to Zion will look differently. Some will return for more exploration, some will check it off their Adventure Bucket List. For us it was one of the greatest trips we’ve made. Utah’s beauty definitely took our breaths away and none of the photos could even remotely represent the beauty that we saw. Even though we just ran through Zion in one day, we now know what the fuss is all about and are planning to come back and do some more of backcountry backpacking and hiking (Subway is waiting for us).
How about you? Have you been lucky enough to visit Zion National Park yet? And if you did, what was your favorite trail there? There are so many great parks in Utah that it is hard to pick a favorite – but not many people can visit Zion without feeling an urge to come back again sometime soon!