Summer Moments Road Trip: Zion National Park
Moving on from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park had me wondering if I had made a terrible mistake. What would that mistake be, you might ask? Well, if I had done my research about Bryce Canyon prior to arriving, I would have known that it takes a lot longer than 24 hours to see all that this amazing park has to offer.
You live and you learn.
BRYCE CANYON TO ZION NATIONAL PARK
Unfortunately, I was pressed for time and I needed to hit the road towards Zion National Park, my second to last destination on my Summer Moments Road Trip.
The best part about the drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion is that it’s a quick 70 mile journey south on US-89S and a short hop over to UT-9W. Before you know it, you will have arrived at yet another one of Utah’s stunning National Parks.
I cruised along the maroon-colored winding road and stopped at what seemed like every five minutes or so after spotting yet another photo opportunity.
It was amazing to see how much the landscape had changed since I left Bryce Canyon this morning. It’s weird to think that just 70 miles south west lies a National Park with scenery and rock formations that are so much different from what I saw in Bryce.
After speaking with the park ranger back at the entrance to Zion, I decided to stop off at Canyon Overlook, a trail that supposedly required little time and a hike that offered huge rewards to those who made it to the end. Little time, huge rewards? Sign me up!
Fifteen or twenty minutes into my hike and I had arrived at the end of the Canyon Overlook trail only to see this disappointing view shown below.
Okay, so I’m totally kidding about the view shown above. Do you really want to see the rewards of hiking out to the end of the Canyon Overlook trail?
Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on this drool-worthy canyon below!
Oh, and here’s a closeup of the road that winds through the canyon below.
You know for damn sure that I had to Pause The Moment on this one.
There’s a reason why Canyon Overlook is one of the more popular trails in the park. At just 1-mile round-trip, it’s a quick, easy and rewarding way to capture your first real glimpse of Zion National Park if you’re entering the park from the east.
Once I arrived at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop I made my way east towards the beginning of the trail head which links the East Rim Trail, Observation Point and Hidden Canyon trails.
I stopped a few times along the way to snap a few photos of the view as I ascended the trail with never ending switchbacks.
After a fairly strenuous mile and a half of hiking, I had arrived at the end of the maintained portion of the Hidden Canyon trail. At this point, most people turn around and head back down but I wasn’t finished exploring just yet.
You’ll notice the sign above mentions that this is the end of the “maintained” trail.
From here, you can follow the trail through the Hidden Canyon another half mile to reach the 20-foot natural arch.
About a half mile after the natural arch, I decided to turn back as there was some dark clouds forming in the sky. The last thing I needed was to get stuck in a heavy rainstorm in the Hidden Canyon. No thanks!
By the time I reached the bottom I was soaking with sweat. What a workout! This is exactly the type of hike that I enjoy. I want to get out there and explore while getting a good workout and a good sweat.
Total Distance: 3.2 mi round-trip
The Hidden Canyon trail gave me that and more so I couldn’t have been more satisfied. Oh, and did I mention the views?
Literally, as soon as I stepped foot on the shuttle back to the visitors center, the clouds got darker and it started to absolutely pour. Once I got to the visitors center, I headed straight for my car and made my way towards my hotel for the night.
QUALITY INN AT ZION NATIONAL PARK
For those of you that are not familiar with the area, Springdale, UT (see map) is the town that borders the western park entrance of Zion National Park.
Tonight I would be staying at the Quality Inn Zion Park located just two minutes drive from the entrance of Zion National Park. You know what they say. Location, location, location!
The room was fitted with two queen sized beds, air-conditioning, mini-refrigerator, microwave and a table and chairs. All in all, it was a great value at a rate of $131.00/night.
If you’re looking for a clean, decently priced hotel within a hop skip and a jump from Zion, the Quality Inn at Zion is the place to be.
Have you visited Zion National Park? If so, what was your favorite part about your visit?