1. Angel's Landing
The hike of all hikes found within the 59 National Parks, Angels landing is a five-mile roundtrip hike with an elevation gain of 1,488 feet. This thrilling and strenuous hike is well known for the last half mile stretch in which one is scaling a narrow ridge with 1,000 foot drops on both sides. Featuring 21 switchbacks with significant and quick elevation gain, although not for the faint of heart, this hike is doable for the more casual of hikers as long as one takes their time.
Another world famous hike found within the canyon walls of Zion, the Narrows is ranked as National Geographic’s number five in its list of America’s best 100 adventures. The Narrows offers three different hiking options: an out and back day hike starting at the bottom (six-miles), a top to bottom day hike (16-miles) as well as a top to bottom overnight hike (16-miles). This hike allows one to trudge through the Virgin River as 2,000 foot walls tower over hikers on both sides. Plan accordingly for this hike as the water remains chilly most of the year, is constantly at risk for flash floods, and is occasionally closed due to strong currents.
3. Ride the Shuttle
With visitation at 2.4 million and rising in 1997, the National Park service incorporated the shuttle system to address traffic and parking problems as well as protect the vegetation within the park. The free shuttle system features eight stop throughout the canyon and generally runs from April to October, the park’s busiest months of the year. It travels along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which is closed to cars during the months the shuttles are in operation. Although a hassle at times, the shuttle system is integral to the environmental protection of the park and allows visitors to view the canyon with narration from photographers to rangers to Native Americans along the way. If visiting the park, take the time to ride the shuttle from stop one to stop nine, taking in the beauty of Zion while not being afraid to ask the bus driver questions along the way.
4. Drive Highway 9
Another beautiful drive found in the park, Highway 9 takes you from the south to the north end and is where one can find most of the Bighorn Sheep. This road also features a mile long tunnel that is so dark only one way traffic may travel through at a time and features windows to allow light in at certain points. At the time of its completion in 1930, the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel was the longest non-urban tunnel found within the United States. This scenic drive twists and turns along the canyon walls with jaw dropping beauty to be found at each turn.
5. Camp in the Park
With only three camping sites and two being the most accessible to the park, camping is a hot commodity and requires reservations months in advance. Although do not be discouraged if you do not have a reservation as each campground offers cancellation and no show spots to visitors each morning and night. It is slim pickings, but possible to get a spot if arriving early in the morning or around 7:45 pm in the evening. Camping within Zion will only bolster your experience in the park as you wake up among the birds chirping, deer grazing right next to your tent, and red canyon walls towering over the campgrounds.
6. Visit Zion Lodge to watch deer
Each evening, Mule Deer graze on the lawn found right outside the Zion Lodge at shuttle stop five while visitors watch. The deer are used to people and not as skittish as most found outside the park. Despite this, admire the deer from a distance and allow them the enjoy their dinner peacefully. This is a fun experience for all, but also a great opportunity for children to see the animals up close and to teach them proper observance etiquette.
7. Emerald Pools Trail
Found at shuttle stop five and made up of two separate hikes, lower and upper pools, this three-mile round trip easy to moderately strenuous hike takes hikers to three pools and a waterfall along the way. Not as picturesque as one may believe, the pools aren’t the star of this hikes. As one travels up the steep trail, each twist and turn provides a new view of the canyon, putting on a show, allowing visitors to take a glance of what the park has to offer.
8. Kayenta Trail
After hiking up to the Emerald Pools trail, take the Kayenta trail back down to shuttle stop six following the signs for the Grotto trailhead. As one heads down the trail, more of the canyon is put on display while finishing up the hike.
9. Court of the Patriarchs
Located at shuttle stop four, the Court of the Patriarchs is a set of three sandstone cliffs named after the Biblical figured Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. A two minute trail takes you to a viewpoint above the trees and also features two other formations: The Sentinel and Mount Moroni. Enjoy this viewpoint in the morning lights as the sun breaks over the canyon walls and light filters in.
10. Riverside Walk
A two-mile roundtrip hike at shuttle stop nine allows hikers to travel along the Virgin River taking one to the Narrows trailhead. More of a stroll than a hike, this wheelchair accessible path is a must see for the most casual of visitors. Open year-round, this hike is a tease during the months the Narrows are closed due to flooding and strong currents.
Here are some other incredible pictures from around Zion -