7 Reasons to Love Zion National Park

7 Reasons to Love Zion National Park

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It’s no wonder Zion National Park was the third most popular park in 2017 with 4,504,813 visitors. This park has so much to offer whether you are seeking outdoor adventures or looking to take in the amazing scenery. We were hooked from the moment we drove in the east entrance, and we haven’t stopped thinking about this park since our visit in 2016.

These are the reasons why we know you’ll fall for Zion, too!


Zion Canyon in Zion National Park


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We entered the park from the east, so our first impressions of Zion were gathered from the amazing scenic drive on this stretch of highway. Even if you approach Zion from the Springdale entrance, the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is a must-do! There are two tunnels cut deep into the Navajo sandstone—the most notable one is the 1.1-mile Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. This tunnel was finished in 1930 and was built as a shortcut to create direct access to Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon from Zion. Take advantage of the numerous pull-offs along the way for photo opportunities, such as Checkerboard Mesa, and places to explore on foot like the Canyon Overlook Trail. It's not just us that thinks this highway is great-Bearfoot Theory also highlighted it in their blog on the essentials of Zion National park.

Zion Mount Carmel Highway

Checkerboard Mesa in Zion National Park


Even the amateur photographer can’t help but be inspired by the sheer walls, unusual rock formations and peaks of Zion National Park. Here you’ll find some of the tallest sandstone cliffs in the world—many of them located in Zion Canyon. Fun fact: Before it was a national park, Zion was known as Mukuntuweap, which translates to “straight canyon,” likely referring to its dramatic vertical walls.

Sandstone Cliffs in Zion National Park


This hike is one of the most popular in the park. If the weather is in your favor, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to hike in the Virgin River through a slot canyon with soaring walls and sandstone grottos. The hike to the Narrows begins on the paved Riverside Walk. Beyond the walkway, you can explore as much or as little of the river and slot canyon as you like before turning back (up to Big Spring without a permit). Should you choose to venture beyond the paved walkway, be sure to have the correct gear. We hiked the Narrows on a hot summer day, so we wore our Keens (closed toed shoes are necessary due to the rocky river bottom). We highly recommend you bring or rent a walking stick which helps with balance in the rocky bottomed river. When hiking any other time of year, you’ll want to wear canyoneering boots, neoprene socks and dry pants, which can all be rented (including the walking stick) from an outfitter in Springdale.

{Note: Be sure to check the forecast for any risk of flash floods before attempting this trail.}

The Narrows in Zion National Park



The Emerald Pools trail is a great hike for almost everyone in the family, so this hike is well-travelled and can be busy. We set out early in the morning and encountered very few people. Before arriving at the pools, the trail passes under a seasonal waterfall and through a lush, green area where plants cling and springs seep from the soaring walls. There are three pools, but the Upper Emerald Pool is the most impressive with cliffs surrounding the end of the trail on three sides and creating a natural amphitheater.

The Emerald Pools Trail was one of the hikes called out in our blog on the Best Easy Hikes in Zion National Park.


Emerald Pools in Zion national Park



A wide variety of plant and animal species thrive in Zion National Park’s many habitats. The most frequent mammal sightings are mule deer, bighorn sheep, foxes and rock squirrels. However, Zion is home to 68 species of mammals—ranging from mountain lions to kangaroo rats!

Bighorn Sheep in Zion National Park



If you are seeking a thrilling hike with incredible views, then Angels Landing is probably already on your bucket list! Travelers throughout the world visit Zion to conquer this trail, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. This is a strenuous uphill hike with steep drop-offs, narrow ridges, and safety chains to aid your climb to the summit. This is NOT a hike for small children or those afraid of heights. If the idea of clinging to chains is not your idea of fun, the first 2 miles of the Angels Landing trail is mostly paved; and, though steep in parts, there are places to rest and take in the views. After hiking up the well-known switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles, you reach Scout’s Lookout where you can look down into Zion Canyon and get a good view of the summit. Walter's Wiggles were memorable enough that our son wrote all about it from his perspective.

{This trail can get very busy and hot, especially in the summer hear. Be sure to set out early in the morning and carry plenty of water. You’ll want to have free hands if you are attempting to summit Angels Landing, so we also recommend a pack to carry water, cameras and snacks.}

Angels Landing in zion National Park


If you want a break from the busy Zion Canyon area and crowded shuttles, we recommend hiking the 3-mile Watchman Trail, which starts at the Visitor Center. We hiked this trail early on a summer morning to avoid the heat and only ran into a handful of other hikers. This trail leads to a stunning viewpoint on top of a layer of cliffs. Take in views of Watchman Peak to the southeast and Zion Canyon to the north.  We covered this great hike in detail in our dedicated blog post, Hiking the Watchman Trail.

The Watchman Trail in Zion National Park

We covered a lot of ground in three days, but there are so many other amazing hikes and adventures to be had in Zion. If you have more time, try hiking to Observation Point, check out the remote Kolob Canyons or get a permit to explore the Subway!

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      About Just Go Travel Studios

      We are Amy & Pete Brahan. Very simply, we are passionate about our National Parks and Public Lands and explore them with our three kids whenever we can.

      As much as we enjoy traveling, we also love sharing our knowledge and helping others create everlasting memories through our custom-made travel posters, downloadable travel itineraries and detailed blog articles.

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