Zion National Park – Things to know before you go
To kickoff our first official blog post on the beautiful Zion National Park, we thought our “things to know before you go” travel topic would be the best one to start with, giving you some major insight! I love writing about what we took away from our travels so that we can help others in their future travel endeavors. Today we will talk about 6 things we believe are important to know before making your visit to Zion National Park, so let’s get into it..
Zion has definitely been popping up more for me in the media as I see a rise of people visiting National Parks in the last ~10 years. Zion is one of the more popular parks (in my opinion) that I see everywhere online. Because of this new rise in national park enthusiasts, I’ve definitely noticed more and more families at National Parks exploring together, which is so adorable. I love seeing children taking an interest in nature but, I will say Zion seems to be the most family oriented of any national park we have ever been too.
Part of the reason for this could be the shuttle system which makes it easy for kids and their families to feel like they are at an amusement park, stopping and hiking at each stop. If you come to Zion thinking you will be witnessing open areas with no people around, you will probably be hard pressed to find any unless you hike far enough away from the canyon. Everywhere you go, there will be lots of people to accompany you, and maybe that’s something you like, but just a heads up to others who don’t find that ideal. Overall, we felt Zion was a little over crowded for our liking which is why it rank a little low on our list of favorite parks we’ve been too :/ but it is still an absolutely breathtaking location that we will definitely be returning to in the future
Something that sets Zion apart from other National Parks we have visited, is the unique shuttle system that is set up inside the park. Zion National Park has 2 paved highways, one for cars and another for shuttles to drive on. The car highway is limited to only to a scenic drive going around the canyon, where as the shuttle highway takes you deep into the spectacular Zion Canyon.
The shuttle system has 9 various stops that allow you to choose where you would like to explore inside the canyon. Each stop has different view points and hikes that many people populate. The shuttle system pretty much runs all day until the sun goes down so it’s always a good idea to plan out your last stop of the day before it’s too late!
I would definitely suggest that you give yourself enough time so you’re not waiting for a long time for a shuttle towards the midday/evening when lines to board the shuttles are super packed.
Now for our personal favorite activity..scenic drives 🙂 Remember when I said there are 2 highways to take once your inside Zion? Well the highway that takes you to the eastern side of park is definitely one you should take. What is really nice about doing this, is that the amount of people you come in contact with drops at least 50%. All along the drive their are places to park your car to stop and take a look at different viewpoints and just cool areas through out the drive.
The drive itself inside the park is very beautiful and we made plenty of stops checking out everything we found interesting to see. Something that we did that we totally recommend to you, is taking that highway all the way up to Bryce Canyon National Park. (Yes, two parks in one day!) With just under a 2 hour drive, making the journey to Bryce is something that will give you even more gorgeous views to enjoy.
The terrain slowly shifts to bright orange, towering rocks that are truly mesmerizing. We had a great time checking out Bryce and got some beautiful pictures of the snow on the canyon. It was a long day dedicated to driving for-sure but that didn’t mean we were stuck in the car the whole time 😉
Time of year for Hiking
Hiking is what I believe most people come to Zion for. There is a good variety of hikes that Zion offers with plenty that aren’t super strenuous and are doable for almost any age, however, depending on what season it is some hikes may not be accessible. My personal favorite hike, The Narrows, is a hike that’s usually only open during the late spring, summer, and fall seasons, due to the amount of water Zion gets in its winter season.
Making sure the hikes you want to experience are open during the time of your visit will ensure you wont be missing out on anything! I was super bummed when we couldn’t hike the narrows in late March because it had rained so much early this year.. I do have some photos of me from an older trip to let give you a glimpse of how epic the Narrows is!
As some of you may know, lodging inside any national park is going cost you some dough, so we thought we would give you some ideas on where to stay according to your budget 🙂 If you really enjoy being engulfed in a National park there is a nice lodge with cabins you can stay overnight that we saw while on the shuttle system. Also, camping inside the park is a popular option for families who are looking for a true outdoors experience.
For us, we personally like having a safe hotel room to store our equipment and a nice bed to fall asleep on after a long day of exploring. Just outside the park are many chain hotel/motels that all range in prices. If you’re looking to stay fairly close to the park and pay a little more, staying in the town of Springdale which is right outside Zion’s entrance will be the place for you. We stayed at a motel with some friends a few years ago that was just outside the park and had a great time, splitting up the costs also helps as an advantage to not pay too much and still get quick access inside and outside the park.
This time around, Scott and I were up to staying outside of Zion in a neighboring town called Hurricane. Hurricane is like any other random city in the desert that offers lots of gas stations, fast food, restaurants, and cheap motels that you can stay at while checking out Zion National Park. We had no problem waking up and driving to Zion for about 30 minutes until reaching the park gates. If you’re looking to save some money on lodging, we definitely recommend staying in Hurricane throughout your Zion trip.
This is the best kept secret of Zion according to us. Kolob Canyon was the best part of our whole trip, yep that’s right, and it’s not even in the main Zion Canyon! What was too bad about this discovery was that we found this location on our last night in Zion, we were looking for a rad sunset spot when Scott remembered a road that looked like it might take us up a mountain to who knows where.
We set off during golden hour driving up a very scenic road taking us higher up to what was the western, upper section of Zion National Park. The atmosphere once at the top was like nothing we had seen so far on the trip! There were tons of cows around eating grass, crossing the road, and big beautiful mountains in the distance that had the most beautiful backdrop of the sunsetting on them, it was so dreamy.
We loved it so much that we told ourselves we would be back in the early morning to capture a sunrise here, and thats exactly what we did! Coming back at 5-6am was a struggle for me (of course) but I was able to witness a beautiful sunrise in such a truly amazing place. Take the time to spend either a sunset or sunrise at this spot, I promise you its worth it 🙂
Well that’s all we got for you folks! We hope you enjoyed this blog post, giving you an idea of what to expect before making your trip to the amazing Zion National Park! Thanks for checking in with us and we will definitely be covering more Zion content in the weeks to come so we hope you are excited and ready to learn more about this amazing place! Until next time!