Monday, August 31, 2015

More Adventures In Utah: Zion National Park


Fly to Las Vegas and then drive to Springdale, Utah (approximately three hours). Spend the afternoon hiking in Zion National Park.  (Fun fact - Utah has five national parks, but Zion was its first.) Spend the night at the La Quinta Inn in Springdale.


Go on an ATV tour near Zion National Park.



Fly to Las Vegas and drive to Springdale, Utah. Arrive in the late afternoon, check into the La Quinta, and spend the evening relaxing.  Springdale is a great town. It is very small, but very cute with a number of restaurants and art galleries. So far, on this adventure to see all of the national parks, Moab and Springdale are my favorite national park towns. Interestingly, St. George, Utah, the major town en route between Las Vegas and Springdale is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. (We didn't get a chance to explore it though, unfortunately.)

The La Quinta Inn in Springdale was a great hotel option. We chose it because it allows dogs, but it is close to the park, new, clean, and it has a great pool and hot tub. We also received cookies upon check in (major bonus!). In retrospect, the Cable Mountain Lodge also would have been a great choice because it is closer to Zion National Park and therefore you only have to take one bus to see the attractions instead of two, but overall, I have no complaints about the hotel and would stay there again.


Sleep in, have breakfast at the hotel, and then swing by the Zion Guru to talk about gear needed to hike the Narrows in Zion National Park. Stopping at the Zion Guru  (conveniently located right next to our hotel) was great; the man running the store was incredibly helpful, friendly, and funny (and a Michigan grad much to Ryan's liking). He convinced us to rent boots and walking sticks to use in our hike on the Narrows. Renting these was a great move as it made the hike through the river much easier and much more enjoyable. Hiking the Narrows is a must do in Zion. The hike takes you through a river, and the trail is actually the river itself. We probably hiked about three or four miles, so we didn't hike all of the Narrows, but we definitely enjoyed it. To get to the Narrows, we took the Springdale town bus to the entrance station at Zion National Park where we switched to the national park bus which we took to the Narrows (and then around the park later that day). 

Hiking the Narrows

After hiking the Narrows, we had lunch at the Red Rock Grill at the Zion Lodge (where it would have been great to stay had we been able to get a reservation). We then set out to hike Angel's Landing. (Angel's Landing and the Narrows are Zion National Park's most famous hikes.) Angel's Landing is a difficult hike, but well worth it for the view.

Angel's Landing

Climbing Angel's Landing

After leaving the park, we grabbed a quick dinner at Amigo's and then went to bed - exhausted after a busy day of touring. We were on the second to last bus out of the park after a long day of hiking; luckily the Springdale town bus sent a special bus to pick us up. (Springdale should consider having the town buses run for a certain amount of time after the park buses end.)

Because we were so tired on Friday, we ended up skipping the drive to Bryce Canyon on Saturday and just exploring Zion. Trying to do both parks in only a three day weekend was probably a bit too ambitious. It would have been totally do-able in a four day weekend though.


We woke up early and drove about 45 minutes to Hurricane, Utah to do a four hour ATV tour in Sand Hollow State Park. I was reluctant to do the ATV tour, as I had no real interest in ATV'ing and had some qualms about the environmental impact about ATV'ing in general. After getting over my initial fear of ATV'ing, I loved it. We saw some amazing sites, such as Jurassic Park, that we wouldn't have been able to see any other way. Our guide was great too, and taught us a lot about the local flora, fauna, and geology. I would definitely do another ATV tour. After ATVing, we had lunch at Wildcat Willies (recommended by our jeep guide). The lunch was great (order the turkey sandwich). We then spent the afternoon lounging by the pool before driving back to Vegas to catch flights home.

All in all, Zion ranks at the top of my national park trips. (Top parks so far include Zion, Arches, Yellowstone, Sequoia, Saguaro, and Carlsbad Cavern.)

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