Our 4,750 mile road trip route for our Utah National Parks and Grand Canyon Adventure is here.
It was about 9 AM when we loaded up the car after our backpack in Kolob Canyons and we were dusty and tired during the one hour drive to Zion National Park’s main entrance. Before entering the park we stopped at a local restaurant in Springdale to eat what tasted like the most delicious sandwiches and fries ever! And the iced tea tasted like heaven. A few days in the hot wilderness will definitely make you love iced tea! After our early lunch we felt revived and ready to explore Zion. It is striking the difference between the two park entrances- Kolob Canyons had a small lot with only a couple of cars parked and Zion Canyon’s huge lot was packed. It almost felt like Disney World!
Once we parked our car, we went into the Visitor Center to pick up park maps. To combat park crowding during the busy summer season, Zion put a shuttle system in place several years ago which runs continuously to all the major stops in the park. The shuttle worked amazingly during our tour with new shuttles arriving every few minutes. Again, just like Disney! After our time in the Visitor’s Center, we hopped on the shuttle and headed to the Zion Human History Museum for a scheduled ranger program. Zion’s Junior Ranger award requires the attendance at one of several ranger programs so we chose one from the park guide. We had time to watch the park orientation video and view some of the exhibits before the program started and we spent a while looking at artifacts from early Mormon settlers before settling in our seats in the small amphitheater which overlooked the beautiful Zion mountains- West Temple and Towers of the Virgin.
Whenever we are in a National Park we try to attend as many ranger programs as possible because they have always been interesting and informative. The ranger program at Zion was one of the best I’ve every been to! It feature an “actress” who played the part of a Mormon settler to tell us about the daily lives of the early settlers and the hardships they faced. She was awesome and we were so glad we got to attend. The kids got the ranger booklets signed and we headed back out to the shuttle to take us to Weeping Rock. The trail to weeping rock is short (about 1/2 mile) but steep but well worth the climb as it was absolutely beautiful. The water pours through the pores of the rocks to make it look like it is “weeping” over the trail and the effect is amazing.
We then headed to the Temple of Sinawava to take the 2 mile Riverside Walk Trail to the Narrows. The trail is a paved path so it was a very easy walk to get to the beautiful Narrows canyon where you can walk/splash right in the Virgin River through the canyon, a hike we were really looking forward to. Our plan was to splash around the first mile or so but when we arrived at the entrance we found out that the Narrows were closed due to high water. The water was indeed running high and fast so we just relaxed for a while and enjoyed the views. Zion is an unbelievably gorgeous place and I kept having the feeling that it was wonderful to be able to see such a pretty place with my own eyes.
By this time we were ready for an early dinner so we took the shuttle to the Zion Park Lodge to eat on the patio overlooking the gorgeous park. The food was fine- pizza, hot dogs, sandwiches and such and there was also a local beer selection on tap. We were pretty tired from all the walking we had done that day so were happy to take an extended break.
Once full and rested we took a 2.5 mile loop on the Grotto, Keyanta and Emerald Pools Trails for amazing views of the Upper and Lower Emerald pools before we took the shuttle back to the Visitor Center to our car. We also saw a funny little beatle on the trail doing a handstand. Again, these trails were paved and easy to walk although they were steep in several areas and I kept a sharp eye on the kids.
Our day touring Zion Canyon had been wonderful. It is an unbelievably beautiful and the Park Service does a great job handling the crowds. We left the park on the scenic Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway on our way to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park which was an unforgettable drive through canyon tunnels, amazing views and even mountain goats. Zion National Park was definitely one of our favorite places to visit. Our hotel for the night was the Parry Lodge in Kanab, Utah, about an hours drive away. This was a great little historic hotel built during the 30s and has hosted big name western film stars such as Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra and Anne Bancroft. It was an adorable little motel with immaculate rooms. Hot showers and comfortable beds felt fantastic after all the hiking we had done the previous days! We also enjoyed breakfast in the restaurant the next morning. I would definitely recommend staying here on a visit to the area.