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Trips: Zion National Park is Indeed a Holy Place

| Updated Nov 6, 2021

Zion National Park is so spectacular and beautiful that the early pioneers called it Zion, like the Holy Place in the Bible. And indeed, standing under the soaring, multi-colored sandstone cliffs, gazing down into the canyons or hiking upstream in a the strong current of the Virgin River to get deep into where Zion canyon starts to narrow, there is no way to describe it other than intensely mystical, almost religious in its awesomeness.

We’ve had Zion on our bucket list for several years.

After visiting it, our only regret is that we didn’t come here sooner. But we will return.

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This is also the place that inspired the name for the newest Roadtrek model – the Zion. So there was another reason to visit. I’ll always think of Zion the National Park when I see a Zion, the motorhome, which to me now represents freedom, nature, rugged wilderness and a true getaway that refreshes the soul. The Zion is now on display at many Roadtrek dealers around the country, like this model below at American RV in Grand Rapids.

zionmodelThere are two campgrounds at Zion. Both are near the Springdale entrance. The Watchman campground is reservation only, and sold out during the summer for months in advance. The South Campground, where we stayed, is first come, first served, but it fills up most days well before noon.


Optical illusion: This is looking straight up from the bottom of a canyon... notice the hanging harden like vegetation.
Optical illusion: This is looking straight up from the bottom of a canyon… notice the hanging harden like vegetation.

The way to get a spot here – at similar high-demand U.S. National Park campgrounds – is to cruise the campground with a registration form that you picked up at the main gate. Look at the reserved slips on the site markers. Find one that expires on that day’s date and then ask the people there if they are leaving and if it’s okay to put your form in place of theirs so that when they leave, your tag is on the post.

Our spot n the South Campground
Our spot n the South Campground

Zion is not a place where you will drive around in your RV – or your car for those of you with toads. Leave your vehicle in the campground or visitor center.

There are only 800 parking spots at the various vantage points, hiking trails and attractions at Zion. Some 5,000 plus vehicles come into the ark every day. Do the math and you'll see the problem.

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What you do is ride the shuttles. They run from about 6 am to 8:30 pm and they come by each main vantage point and trailhead about every 10-15 minutes.

For those with dogs, there’s a great paved tail that runs from the Visitor’s Center and the back of the South Campground along the Virgin River. Dogs must be leashed. They are not allowed on shuttles or the hiking trails.

There are a variety of hikes, ranging from easy to very challenging. If you are in good shape, I highly recommend the Narrows Trail, which starts out as a mile long paved trail and then empties into the Virgin River. You then wade the river – upstream. You can go as far as you want, until the canyon walls are so narrow you can touch both sides at once.

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I walked about an hour upstream past the paved trail. It was gorgeous. I did not have a walking stick with me, which is highly recommended because of the unevern and rocky river bottom.

It’s tough going in spots. But, oh, so worth it, one of the best hikes I’ve ever taken.

I’d recommend three days to thoroughly experience the park.

Here are some more photos.

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2015-06-04

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

5 Responses to “Trips: Zion National Park is Indeed a Holy Place”

June 08, 2015at10:04 am, terri said:

for those who are less hardy but still love activity, we had the shuttle bus carry our bicycles (they have racks on the front) and we rode the bus all the way to the end, getting a nice little tour as the shuttle runs a tape to explain things. then we rode our bikes all the way back out of the canyon to the lodge. It is a slightly down hill paved road, but not scary steep. It was one of the most fun bike trips I have ever taken as the scenery is so amazing and you share the road only with the occasional shuttle buses running by.

June 05, 2015at8:26 am, Rich Brandt said:

Debbie and I were there for a week in the spring and stayed at the Watchman Campground (pic)

June 04, 2015at6:11 pm, Dillon said:

Hey Mike nice pictures! You’re getting really good color depth!

Personal request:
I would love to see a video or read an article about the photo gear you currently use and the processing techniques you use to capture and edit such nice images.

June 04, 2015at11:53 pm, Mike Wendland said:

Thanks Dillon… here’s a list of al the gear I have…

June 04, 2015at11:54 am, Lezro r said:

You are absolutely right; Zion NP is a truly spiritual place (the natives considered it so before the Mormons named it). My parents honeymooned there, we did, and my son did also! So far it has blessed all of our marriages. 🙂 Although I was very skeptical of the shuttles when they were first instituted, I must admit that they are very well done and have been great for Zion: no parking hassles, more visible wildlife, and plenty of shuttles. Having been there many times in the ensuing years, I would strongly encourage other RTers to visit Zion in the off-season as well; our November visits have been some of the most beautiful.

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