Zion: the gem of the West Coast

Only a two hour drive from the Las Vegas Strip lies one of the most beautiful natural treasures in all of America: Zion National Park.

image

And to think that this desert gem has basically been in my backyard for nearly the past two decades, and never once did I think to explore it, feels criminal.

image

But after living in New Zealand for the past eight months, I have become surprisingly passionate about the tranquility a walk through nature gifts you with. So while back in America I was on a mission to appreciate what I had never taken the time to do before.

image

Zion National Park became a hotspot tourist destination after paintings of the area by Frederick Dellenbaugh were displayed at the 1904 World Fair in St. Louis.

image

image

Today, the park is bustling with eager hikers, both young and old, keen to explore these magnificent canyons.

image

And while I would encourage anyone and everyone who finds themselves on the West Coast to visit Zion, here are some helpful tips before you map out your trip.

Transportation

image

Unless you snag yourself a special permit, you won’t be able to park your car within the national park. However there are buses to take you throughout the park free of charge. Take advantage of the early bus starts (6:15am) and beat the crowds/heat for those sunrise hikes.

Accommodation

image

There is a slue of accommodation options on either side of the entrance to the park. But to make sure you have the most authentic wildlife experience, I would highly recommend staying in a log cabin (and lucky for you, the majority of accommodation by the park are log cabin styled lodging)!

Emerald Pools

image

This hike is fairly easy in terms of difficulty level, but it is quite challenging to make your way around the herds of people on this particular hike! Because of the non-strenuous trail, many visitors of all ages and fitness take on the Emerald Pools. Named after the green algae that formed in these pools, there are three different levels of pools to explore. Personally, it was a little underwhelming in terms of the “end result” of the hike and if you have limited time in the park, this trek shouldn’t be your first pick. But if you are looking for a casual stroll through the park, this is the place to do it!

Angels Landing

image

Angels Landing was the main motivation for visiting Zion. The incredible views and chain-guided path captivated my interest. The walk itself is rather strenuous, with the first half of the walk being on an extremely high incline. Once you approach the top of the climb, the path suddenly switched to a chain-led path in which you get a case of vertigo walking along slanted cliff edges.

image

And just when you think you’ve made it to the top, you still have another huge climb ahead! While I didn’t have the guts to go all the way to the top, the view from 3/4 the way up is just as stunning and much, much safer. It is also extremely entertaining/nerve wracking watching the daredevils (shout out to Will and Mer) make it to the tippy top of Angels Landing.

The Narrows

image
image courtesy of anthony_pecchi

The only disappointment of my trip to Zion was that I didn’t have a permit to explore The Narrows. This famous gorge offers a unique trekking experience as you must walk through cold, and sometimes raging, waters to explore this natural phenomenon.

But hey, at least I know for next time and I now have another excuse to go back to Zion.

Happy hiking!

image

Advertisements