Getting to Zion // A Plane and A Car Ride
My best friend Taylor lives in Los Angeles and I live in Napa so we both took our individual flights and met in Las Vegas, NV where we rented a car and proceeded to drive 2 and half hours into Zion National Park, UT. The drive wasn't bad at all thanks to some killer AC in our car, but the outside temperature was climbing to a balmy 112 degrees.
TIP: There is a time change going from Nevada to Utah -- We didn't think about this... not sure how that happened.. but we ended up in the park later than we intended to.
Day 1 // Hike #1 & #2
We arrived (due to the time change) at 6 pm in the park. We checked into our hotel in Springdale, hopped on the bus, got into the park and did a breezy 15-minute hike to Weeping Rock. This takes you to a small outlook where water drips down on you from above. The view is great, it wasn't crowded, and it took literally minutes to reach the top of the trail.
View from Weeping Rock
We ran back down the trail and jumped onto the bus again to hit the 2nd short hike of the evening: The Emerald Pools. This hike is approximately 2 miles long from the bottom to the top (one way). On this hike, you pass by a waterfall, 3 pools, and end at a higher, and more spectacular view point than Weeping Rock Trail. As it was getting dark we ended up doing this trial in record speed because the busses out of the park leave at different times depending on your stop. The most exciting part of this trail was stumbling upon the Tarantulas. The park guide at the entrance told us they are only active for approximately 3 weeks out of the year so all in all, we felt pretty lucky stumbling upon these not-so-little guys.
Tarantula on Emerald Pools Trail
TIP: Make sure you know what time the last bus runs out of the park from each trail head so that you don't end up walking to the park entrance at the end of the evening.
Day 2 // Hike #3
We woke up early and made our way into the park around 7:30 am. This was fine except that we were hiking The Narrows and probably should have got into the park at 6:30 am. This hike was AMAZING!! We did a total of 5 miles up the river (you need a permit to do the full 16 miles, but we weren't in good enough shape to even consider this). The river in August was up (at the highest) to my stomach, I'm 5'5", but generally speaking we were hiking in water between my calf and knee.
TIP: Start early
TIP: Get a walking stick (available for free at park entrance
TIP: I wore Keen Hiking Sandals and I can say that after talking to many others on the route that these were a fantastic call by yours truly. The river gets hard to see into and the rubber toe prevents foot related injuries. Other guys and gals had Chacos on and other water shoes but they didn't provide toe protection like my Keens. My friend had tennis shoes on and ended up with blisters and sand in her socks. They have shoes you can rent at the visitors center if all else fails though.
At the end of our 10-mile day, I was not only tired but knew I'd be sore in the morning (Which I was). If you need to do resistance training ever, walk up a river for 5 miles. Personally, the next day, I felt that someone took a razor blade to my Achilles tendon but that's just me, and I tend to be a little dramatic. The beauty is worth it though.
About 2.5 Miles up the River
Me (left) next to my bestie Taylor (right)
A side canyon off the main Narrows river trail
Man carrying his infant child
TIP: and a major PSA: DO NOT BRING YOUR INFANT. This isn't a treacherous hike necessarily but later in the day the water gets harder and harder to see through and there are so many rocks. I fell once and my friend fell a number of times. The last thing I can imagine doing is taking my infant on a hike like this. There were small kids on the hike but they were able to walk and run by themselves. I'm not going to tell you what to do with your kid, but I would advise the general population to hire a sitter for your infants on the day you decide to do The Narrows.
Gal on rock for some size reference
All in all, this was an amazing day trip that took a total of about 6 hours for us to complete. Granted we packed a lunch and took more pictures than your average person would.
TIP: Pack a lunch - there are plenty of little stops along the way to enjoy a snack.
Day 3 // Hike #4 & #5
The morning after The Narrows was another decently early rise and get-going kind of day. We got in our car and drove another 2 hours south into Page, AZ. Here we went to the see some bucket list sights!
Horseshoe Bend: You park, you walk about 10 minutes, and BOOM! Views for days. Located about 2 miles south of where the Colorado River is dammed to create Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend is where the river is allowed to continue its flow out from the dam.
Horseshoe Bend: I had to stand on the edge, hold my phone over the edge, and take this with the pano feature on my phone. Still didn't get the entire horseshoe, but it was decently scary on the edge.
Antelope Canyon: a place I wrote about in a previous blog, and a place I've been wanting to go for years. We did Lower Antelope Canyon for a couple reasons:
1: This trip was decently last minute and we booked our tour 5 days in advance
2: Lower Antelope Canyon is less crowded but also more narrow.
TIP: Book a tour in advance
TIP: If you're going to use an iPhone to take your photos, shoot in the Chrome setting so you are able to capture the colors you see with the naked eye. If you're shooting with an actual camera, slow your shutter speed a decent amount to allow the camera to capture the light in the tiny slot canyons.
We did Ken's Tours for the Lower Antelope experience and the guides were great! They helped us get the photos we wanted, but please know -- Expect a delay because these people are busy as can be. I'm pretty sure our tours were a total of $25/person and we spent about an hour in the canyon itself: it was worth it.
Day 4 // Hike #6
The last day in Zion was as amazing as the previous 3 days. We woke up and hiked Observation Point. We cheated a little and drove to the Ponderosa Lodge and then did the more moderate 7.5-mile round-trip hike to the vista and back.
After completing this last hike, we got back in the vehicle for the last time, drove back to sin city, and parted ways back home. We had an amazing time and were both inspired to get out and explore more of the national parks close to home.
Thanks for reading :)