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.
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.
There 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.