After a long night at Angel’s Window at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, we woke up latish, and headed to the Zion National Park–the second National Park on our trip. The drive from Kanab, UT is about an hour, but summer is the busiest season for Zion, so we had to park (nearby parking is $10-$20) and then ride to specific Park destinations on one of their shuttles.
At 147,000 acres, the Zion is a moderate size for a National Park (Big Bend is about five times larger), but access is mostly restricted along one major roadway. Given that it is the third most visited National Park in the Nation, at 4.5 million visitors, it ranks behind the Smoky Mountains (1) and The Grand Canyon (2) in annual visitors. With that many people and one major roadway, the going was slow. The shuttle trip from the Main Visitor Center to our destination was about 30-40 minutes on a crowded bus.
We began at The Temple of Sinawava, which allowed us to access the River Side Walk. This hike lead us to The Narrows, which is a popular trail that goes through water.
We didn’t plan to go through (much) water, but we were eager to see the water and terrain. We occasionally stopped to hop along rocks…
…”LEAP” for a photo op…
…and enjoy the water that trickled down the mountains and into the stream.
On our way back to the shuttle stop, we were “attacked” by a hungry squirrel.
The squirrels must be used to being fed by visitors, because this squirrel was fairly bold, and assertively looked for food, going so far as to burrow inside our bag.
From the shuttle, we headed to the Park’s seventh stop, Weeping Rock Trail. The trail was short but had an extreme incline to the viewing area where the water “weeps” from the mountain above. The view was beautiful, but difficult to capture by camera.
From our viewing area–an alcove in the side of the mountain–we sat for several minutes, enjoying the cooler temperatures behind our weeping wall.
We boarded the shuttle again for a short ride to stop six, where we got off to walk The Grotto, a short trail to the Lodge at stop five. This was our least favorite hike, although we did get to see a deer that seemed unperturbed by our presence.
We stopped at the Lodge for lunch in the Red Rock Café, which overlooks a large picnic/park area below. Scores of people filled the area, lounging on the grass or sitting at picnic tables, enjoying the shade. Meanwhile, we enjoyed our burgers, before heading to Emerald Pool Trail.
The Emerald Pool Trail consists of three sections: the lower, middle, and upper trail. We traveled all the way to the upper Emerald Pool Trail, which is approximately 3 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 350 feet. It was definitely worth the trek: the pools of water and views were beautiful.
Finally, we headed back to the visitor center at the first stop to hike the Watchman Trail for sunset. The Watchman was a fairly moderate hike up and around a mountain that lead to a peak to view the sunset. After seeing part of the sunset and taking photos…
…we gave up and headed back down the trail, exhausted from a day of many hikes.
It was the first time to visit Zion National Park for all the LEAP members and it did not let us down!