On my Instagram feed, a fellow traveler mentioned that he would be visiting Zion National Park and asked for some tips. I have covered Zion more extensively that anything else thus far, but since my recent trip is still fresh, here are some pointers.
- Overnight inside the park, if you can (in the lodge, in the campgrounds, or backcountry). It’s definitely worth paying extra to do so.
- Visit Angel’s Landing at an off-peak time, early in the morning or later in the afternoon. In addition to the weather being cooler and more comfortable in high season, it will be less crowded in the “scary” portion of the trail and more approachable for those who have some fear of heights and sharp drop offs.
- Use the shuttle system as much as possible. In addition to reducing energy use, overall park congestion, and noise, the shuttles work very efficiently, even more efficiently than driving.
- Don’t forget the Watchman Trail! People gravitate toward the more challenging trails like Angel’s Landing, Observation Point, and Hidden Canyon or some of the easier trails, like Emerald Pools. The Watchman Trail is an outstanding, moderately strenuous trail to a stunning viewpoint that seems to be relatively under appreciated (the trail, that is, not the view). See below.
- Pack a lunch. The food inside the park is so-so. Why leave the trails for a mediocre lunch? Is there a better lunch spot than the Scout Lookout stop on the Angel’s Landing trail?
- Cafe Soleil is the better of the two coffee shops in Springdale. By far.
- If you are coming from Las Vegas (or from the west), stop at the grocery store in Hurricane, UT (Lin’s Fresh Market–no relation to the popular chain) or even further west in St. George, UT. The closer you get to Zion, the more expensive the food, the narrower the selection, and the more variable the quality.
- Do not neglect the eastern part of the park. Much of the focus is on the Springdale side, but the historic road to the eastern gate is an experience in itself, and the rock formations and foliage differ dramatically.
- Do not choose your lodging on the eastern side of the park…unless you really want to be alone. It is more secluded with far less in the way of services. It is not that hard to get away from people on the west side when you want to do so.
- Do combine your Zion trip with the Grand Canyon (North Rim), Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Cedar Breaks National Monument, etc. There are lots of great attractions that are relatively close (by Western US standards, anyway).
Bonus #11. Do go to Zion National Park. I cannot recommend it highly enough!