May 20, 2017

Three weeks ago we ventured down to Southern Utah again for a little extended weekend, this time to visit Zion! We snuck a trip to the St. George Temple in there too, so I could knock something else off my 30 before 30 list!

After the temple, we ate dinner in St. George Friday night and drove to our hotel in La Verkin. We aren't campers (yet!), so we stayed in a hotel during our trip. Accommodations in Springdale (right next to Zion) are CRAZY expensive (like 3x what we paid in Moab!), so we stayed about 25 minutes away in La Verkin. The drive didn't bother us at all, so if you're looking to save money when you go to Zion, consider some of the surrounding towns for a significant discount! 

We headed for Zion in the morning. I knew sometimes parking can be an issue and there are shuttles, but we had NO IDEA how crammed it would be at the park, even in the spring!

***BACKGROUND: In order to alleviate traffic & parking within Zion, there is a shuttle from the town of Springdale, all along its main street, that takes you directly into Zion National Park. You hop off the shuttle, go through the pedestrian entrance, and you're in!

Once you're in the park, cars are not generally allowed along Zion Canyon, so you have to queue up and hop aboard another shuttle that will take you through the park, dropping off at various points throughout the park.

Shuttle opinions? TOTALLY love the concept & Springdale shuttle, but I really didn't love the execution of the Zion Canyon shuttle. I am all for reducing the number of cars, traffic and parking headaches, and it was a huge time/stress saver to just hop on a shuttle in town to take us into the park. 

But once we were in the park, they CRAMMED people in on the shuttles. Every seat would be taken and then they'd let on another 15 people to stand in the middle - if you were in the back, then you had to awkwardly jostle past all those people in the middle, stepping on toes and getting awkwardly close to each other. Zach & I were so anxious about walking past people in the crowded shuttle, that we completely changed our plans and did a different hike once there were less people on the shuttle to climb over.

I think in general, we were significantly unprepared for the sheer number of people who were at the park. We felt like we were at the Disneyland of National Parks - long lines for the shuttle, being crammed together, walking in slow lines on hikes, jostling around people to get good pictures, etc. This was only in April, not on a holiday weekend, so I can't imagine how crazy it is in the summer or during holidays!

We had planned to spend the majority of the day hiking to Observation Point, but Zach got sick the night before, so we had to significantly alter our plans to some shorter & easier jaunts. First stop: Weeping Rock.

Weeping Rock is a super quick hike (just .5 miles), but it's straight UP! It's pretty cool - the "weeping" comes from canyons above (mostly Echo Canyon), and it's been seeping & filtering through the rocks for 1200 years before it comes out!

Plus, there's a pretty incredible view of the canyon from under the water:

Just a quick video I took so you can see & hear the water falling (and finally uploaded it to YouTube instead of uploading inside the blog...)

On the way back down from Weeping Rock, we ran into my best friend from college! Of all the weekends and parks and places to be in the park, we just happen to run into her! So it was awesome to catch up with her and her husband and then we lucked into dinner plans with them!

We hopped on the shuttle and headed for the Riverside Walk. Since Zach wasn't feeling great, this was an easy walk, with little to no incline. It begins at the farthest end of Zion Canyon, in a natural amphitheater called the Temple of Sinawava

Zach's biggest fear when we're in Southern Utah, so he wasn't thrilled to see this sign...

The Riverside Walk takes you right along the Virgin River with huge rock walls on either side.

You definitely feel so tiny next to these.

Eventually, the Riverside Walk ends at the opening to The Narrows. I DESPERATELY wanted to hike The Narrows and go up the Virgin River, but it was closed then due to how high & fast the river was running from snow melt. Next time though!

Once we got back to the shuttle, it was just about dinner time, so we took the shuttle out of the park and then hopped on the town shuttle to meet our friends for dinner at Oscar's Cafe. Food is INCREDIBLE here! Highly recommend if you're in Springdale!

After dinner we walked around Springdale, got an ice cream cone, and then headed to our friend's campsite for late night s'mores & hanging out. I admit, I was pretty disappointed we didn't do any hard hikes to see the incredible vistas, but it all worked out! I didn't love how crowded it was, so I want to head back in early spring or late winter to avoid the major crowds and spend more time exploring. Overall, a fun semi-unplanned trip!

(PS: I still like Moab better...)

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6 thoughts

  1. Beautiful photography.

  2. This guide is perfect. Zion is on my Bucketlist and I cant wait to go. Gorgeous photography skills too. Pinned it to save. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    1. Thanks Jessica! You have to go to Zion at least once! If you don't live close, I would recommend planning on 2 days there, depending if it's a busy season and how much you want to explore. We went for 1 day and it definitely wasn't enough time!

  3. I love your text! Weeping Rock is amazing! I would like to see it one day!

    1. You should! Zion is incredible and everyone should visit it at least once in their lifetime! Weeping Rock is great because it's a very short & accessible hike, so almost anyone can get there.