Zion is the first national park I visited on my trip to the states and I wasn’t really sure what to expect but it certainly set a high standard. I’ve never really been much of a hiker but going to Zion got me prepared for the rest of my trip.
I had 2 days here and as it was also my first time camping it was such an amazing experience for me. Zion is Utah’s first national park and is such a beautiful place with all of its sandstone cliffs and rocks, it is paradise for hikers, climbers, cyclists and tourists and attracts nearly 3 million visitors each year which makes it the 8th most visited national park in the USA.
On the first day of my visit I spent the afternoon hiking in the Narrows which is unlike any normal hiking. This gorge with 1000 ft high walls is one of the most popular sections of the park and is in the narrowest section of Zion Canyon.The majority of people start the trail at the Temple of Sinawava and do a round trip to end back in the same place. A lot of people only do the first part of the hike which is a mile of footpaths but the best part involves getting your feet wet and walking through the Virgin River which can turn into an all day hike. Some parts do get quite deep and it can be very slippery climbing over all the rocks but that just adds to the fun of it! Most people tend to do this hike in late spring and summer as the water is a lot warmer.
On the second day of my time time in Zion I was up at 4:30am (which is not my idea of fun) to take the drive into the park for when it opens at 6:00am as early morning is the best time to do the Angel’s Landing hike as it’s not too hot and not too crowded. The Angel’s Landing trail is one of the most famous and incredible hikes in the USA but it’s not for the faint hearted! It is a 5 mile round trip, the first 2 miles being along footpaths (which do get very steep especially near the top) but the last 1/2 mile is climbing along the side of sandstone cliffs with just a metal chain to hang onto. This is why it’s better to go early in the morning,there isn’t as many people all scrambling along the chains.
It is a very strenuous climb and can take up to 5 hours to complete (once you’ve spent time at the top to have a picnic of course) but it’s definitely worth it once you get to the top, you feel a great sense of achievement .
Coming back down you would think is the easy part, and it is once you’re back on the footpaths but climbing back down the side of the cliff is just as difficult as going up. You will meet people along the way doing the hike with you and will in a lot of cases want to tag along with you but this helps as not only does it give you chance to get to know some of the locals/ other travellers but it makes the trip more enjoyable. Zion is definitely a national park you should consider visiting if you’re planning a trip to the western states.