If you make your way out to the midwest be sure to set aside some time to spend at Zion National Park. I had no idea how amazing this place is and wish we had more than just one day to explore it. Just the drive in is one of the most magnificent things you’ll see at the park. If you enter through the East side entrance, which I recommend for a few reasons, you’ll gradually drive into an immense canyon that encompasses all of the park. You’ll be going downhill, which if you’re in a camper build van like us, or any other RV, your engine will appreciate as it is a 12 mile drive to the visitor center where you can park for the day. The grayish canyons home thousands of beautiful green trees that provide a totally different scene from what you’re used to if you’ve been driving through the desert states for the past week like us. As you drive through the winding mountain roads, you’ll experience a few instances of complete darkness as you drive for minutes through giant tunnels carved through the canyon.
The Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls are a great moderate hike and allow for frequent stops. If you’re not used to the altitude take it slow. I’d been hiking at similar altitudes for about a week now but something about this hike gave me a crazy headache and had me feeling pretty off. Of course, I pushed through trying to get to the top as fast as I could so I could rest. Probably not the best strategy but it worked for me. It was summer so the falls were pretty dried up but we heard that fall and spring are the best times to see the water pouring out from the canyon’s cracks.
Weeping Rock is also a beautiful spot to see the water filtering out through the canyon’s cracks if its the right season.
However, The Narrows are never short on water. Take the shuttle all the way to the last stop, Temple of S . Here you will find the riverwalk where you can take a leisurely stroll along the Virgin River that runs through the canyon. If you’re on the more adventurous side and don’t mind a little cold water, The Narrows hike is for you. Bring water proof boots or shoes you don’t mind getting wet, or should I say soaked. You’ll be wet at least up to your knees, if you’re lucky.
If you have other shoes to change into (and maybe other clothes if you’re a clumsy climber) do the the hike whenever you’d like. Morning to early afternoon is great because it provides a lot of light and warmth throughout the canyon, as the water is pretty nippy. If you’re just there for the day and are unprepared for the treacherous water hike like us, do it at the end so you don’t have to go through the rest of the day wet and uncomfortable, though it will be a bit chillier as the high canyons allow for little sunlight as the day goes on. Either way, you have to check this spot out.
The canyons scaling up either side of you are probably the tallest you’ve ever seen. The water rushing over the smooth and beautifully colored rocks provides for amazing photos and unforgettable hike. Waterfalls trickle down the canyon’s walls and if you make the 8 hour roundtrip hike to the spring, the results are supposedly amazing. You are also permitted to camp at the spring if you’re not feeling the walk back! We didn’t arrive at the last stop until about 5 so we were unable to do the full hike, but wish we had known how beautiful it was so we could have spent all day there. Just be sure to be wary of the time, as the last bus back to the visitor center leaves at different times every night, and it’s a long walk back in wet shoes.
Bring plenty of water and snacks for the day. Again, a Camel Bak is a must for any of these hikes. A few of the hiking stops on the shuttle have free spring water for you to fill up but only the visitor center and the lodge stop has actual food. There are also bathrooms at most of the shuttle stops.
Zion was not originally on our route, but ended up being a great addition to our trip. We met some hikers who also lived in Florida while waiting in the stifling heat at Antelope Canyon who said it was their favorite national parks, so naturally we had to go. I recommend you do too, it might turn out to be your favorite as well!
(If you guys ever come across this blog – thank you so much for the recommendation!)
Photos by Brandon Verdura