Having come from Bryce Canyon National Park during April when it wasn’t crowded at all, we were a little overwhelmed at Zion. We could wander around Bryce and we never had to worry about what time to get there, or how long would we have to wait for a bus, because it was never that busy.
After spending our first night in a boondocking spot just outside Zion, we decided to go check out Zion National Park and decide which hikes we wanted to do while we were there. What we didn’t expect was the traffic!!! We got into the park no problem and proceeded to find a spot to park. Wow was it packed and as for parking, it didn’t look like that was going to happen. Cars were parked anywhere they could find space.
We drove over to the RV parking (we have a large truck and don’t always fit in the regular parking lot), but that was packed also. Frank let us out and continued driving around until he finally found a spot. We checked with the visitors center about which hikes we should look at with the kids. No, we didn’t consider Angels Landing. Hanging onto a chain while climbing a steep mountain and hoping I don’t die is not for me, nor is it for my kids!
We decided on a couple of hikes we wanted to do and left to take a bus ride, not realizing that the bus line would take several days to get through. By the way, you must leave your car and take a shuttle bus, there is no other option to get around. I understand why they do that, but we didn’t love that we couldn’t take our car with us. We hung in there and finally got on a bus with a seat.
Riverside Walk Trail
We choose the Weeping Rock Trail because it said that it was easy, the temperatures were already up there so we didn’t want to have to do a long hike in the afternoon sun. This hike is more of a stroll and an introduction to Zion. Anybody and everybody can enjoy this hike. This hike is a short, not-so-steep walk on a paved path with super high walls on each side, leading to a rock alcove under a cool, spring-fed shower.
You can also walk by the water, which we did for a while. It was a little crowded along the way, but it was May and so it was to be expected. When we arrived at the Narrows, it was quite busy, however, that didn’t take away from the beauty of it all. The kids splashed around in the water for a while, we promised them we would come back another time to hike The Narrows.
We were up early the next day, sandwiches packed, breakfast in hand, sunscreen at the ready. We got to Zion at 6:45, found a parking spot no problem and ate breakfast before heading to the bus. That was a big mistake, we should have eaten breakfast while waiting in line for the bus, not doing that probably cost us 30 minutes or so. It took us over 45 minutes to get on a bus and this is at 7:00 in the morning.
We filled up our water hydration pack, we’re loving not having to take several bottles of water with us anymore! Having hiked everywhere at Bryce Canyon National Park, I considered all of us pretty good hikers at this point, however, this hike almost did us in. The trail will test you, but if you persevere, the views are totally worth the effort, and you will get some truly memorable photos.
Observation Point Trail is an 8 mile out and back trail that ascends 2100 feet. So basically it is an unrelenting uphill hike for 4 miles. We took our time and drank lots of water along the way. We took breaks and chatted with several people, and enjoyed the outstanding views all the way up. A couple of times our legs felt jelly-like so we took extra long breaks.
We somehow ended up playing a type of tag with another couple, where we would pass them and then they would pass us. This distracted the kids and kept them moving, so we just had to keep up. We finally arrived at the top and it was breathtaking. Best thing- at the top you are looking down on those hot shots hiking Angels Landing!
There are some excellent photo opportunity spots, but please be careful as I have read of others falling because not enough care was taken. If you want that awesome selfie of you on a rock outcropping looking over the entire Zion valley, this is the spot.
We took our photos and sat down to enjoy some lunch. Another couple we had met along the way were gracious enough to share their binoculars and we watched people climbing Angels Landing, although one guy, in particular, looked like he was unable to move. Yup looks like we made the right decision about Angels Landing.
After about 45 minutes we made our way back down the mountain, again playing tag with the same couple. I am forever grateful to them as they kept the kids distracted and we all made it back down. Our favorite part, however, was coming across a couple of bighorn sheep on the trail back down. Truly a memorable day.
If you consider Zion as a long tall canyon, which is wider at one end and then gets continually skinnier as you go deeper, you will have the picture. The Narrows Trail is the skinny end, where the thousand-foot tall cliffs squeeze together into a slot canyon with a river running out the bottom.
We took the next day off to relax and so we got up early the following day. We waited in line for the bus, eating breakfast while waiting this time. Busy mornings are just the norm at Zion, so we were at the bus stop at 6:30 am waiting. The early morning was probably a bad idea, although we did get to see a deer while walking Riverside Walk Trail.
The trip into The Narrows starts with several water crossings until the land part finally subsides and there is only water- and it is COLD! The MISTAKE in hitting this trail early is that the sun is not into the canyon and it tends to be a bit cold, so hiking in freezing mountain water does not help. We brought some walking sticks with us, people leave sticks leaning up against the wall so everyone can have a turn. You will need sticks otherwise you could hurt yourself walking through the stones.
We walked until the water was getting up to our shorts and then we turned back. Lots of people rented socks and neoprene shoes in town for the long hike, we did not! The views are spectacular, but it was so cold and we did not bring a change of clothes, which is why we decided to turn back. I believe if you keep going, the hike is well worth it. Maybe on a warmer day…
We were glad to wander our way back to the car. We stopped at the Lodge on our way back down, they have a type of fast food dining but it was expensive, and I find that park food is not usually that great.
There are quite a few other hikes in Zion, but these were our favorites. We did not stay as long as we normally would because the crowds were really quite overwhelming. Zion is a stunningly beautiful place and we hope for a return visit sometime when the crowds are not quite so bad.
Did we miss anything, is there a hike you would recommend we should have done with the kids?