My Top Ten National Parks of North America
8. Zion National Park
Date established: November 19, 1919
Annual visitation (2014): 3,189,696
Size: 146,597 acres
Location: Southwest Utah
Number of visits: Three
Total days in the park: Four and a half
Where I stayed: I have camped out four nights in Watchman Campground, including a pair of nights on a nice river campsite. I fell asleep to the sound of the Virgin River flowing about ten feet from my tent.
Can’t miss sight: The Narrows. Depending on the weather and the time of year, you have to venture, at least a short distance, into the narrows. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. Read about my Narrows experience…
My favorite view: The view from Scout’s Lookout (since I couldn’t make it all the way up to Angel’s Landing). There are a lot of good viewpoints within the park, including the view of the Three Patriarchs and Watchman Peak.
Wildlife seen: Bighorn sheep and turkeys
Favorite hike: This is another easy one for me. It’s got to be the Narrows. The complete hike of the Narrows is eighteen miles long. I hiked about five miles roundtrip to Orderville Canyon. It was arguably the best hike of my life (if you can even call it a hike since it follows the river and not a trail).
Bonus Points: Zion Canyon has a great shuttle system, which actually provides the only mode of travel throughout most of the popular canyon. Informative information is played through speakers in the shuttles corresponding to the location of the shuttle.
Also, the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway enters the eastern end of the park using a 1.1 mile long tunnel. There are restrictions on the sizes of vehicles that can come through the tunnel.
If I Return
I’d like to stay at Zion Lodge for a couple of nights and hike farther into the Narrows. I’d also like to try out some other hikes that I haven’t attempted yet, but I highly doubt I will return to Angel’s Landing.
Why You Should Visit
This is a red rock wonderland. Yet, due to the presence of the Virgin River, much of the area inside Zion Canyon is like a glorious oasis flooded bursting with life and color.
Like, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park is extremely popular (especially Zion Canyon). Park personnel are working on ways to better manage the crowds. The shuttle system is one step that was taken years ago and it helps a lot. Other parks have followed Zion’s lead on that front.
I also enjoyed a great hike on the Watchman Trail.