Zion National Park

Red-rock slot canyons, pine-topped peaks, riparian trails along the Virgin River–there’s all sorts of hiking on offer at Zion. The seasons also favor trekkers. Cold, crisp winters rarely close all the routes, but do disperse the crowds. Meanwhile, spring and fall offer mild daytime highs for longer expeditions.

Catch your breath. Look up. Zion National Park is Utah at its finest. Flaming rocks dashed with crimson and salmon tower to the cloudless skies. Prickly pear cacti jut from the dust. Bighorn sheep hop over the rock faces. Lofting above the Virgin River is Zion Canyon and its surrounding reserve, marking the point where the Great Basin, the Mojave, and the Colorado Plateau meet in one heck of a display of geology and geography. Gorge walking is the star, but you might also want to think about hopping in the saddle to evoke the real Wild West.

Catch your breath. Look up. Zion National Park is Utah at its finest. Flaming rocks dashed with crimson and salmon tower to the cloudless skies. Prickly pear cacti jut from the dust. Bighorn sheep hop over the rock faces. Lofting above the Virgin River is Zion Canyon and its surrounding reserve, marking the point where the Great Basin, the Mojave, and the Colorado Plateau meet in one heck of a display of geology and geography. Gorge walking is the star, but you might also want to think about hopping in the saddle to evoke the real Wild West.

Zion National Park is one of the top-visited parks across the country so you can bet there will be plenty of scenic trails laid out clearly for any newcomers. Famous for sparkling waterfalls, steep lookout points, and emerald-colored waters- Zion National Park offers visitors a chance to witness both diverse landscapes and wildlife that will have them hooked on visiting National Parks.

Utah’s oldest national park was established in 1919 in order to protect the landscape around Zion Canyon: a spectacular sandstone wonder marking the intersection of the Colorado Plateau, the Mojave desert, and the Great Basin. About 100 years later, Zion National Park sees almost 4.5 million visitors each year who come to explore the 230 square miles of wilderness trails and overlooks from 2,000-foot cliffs throughout the park. Though a hike through Zion can take serious trekkers between 3,666 and 8,726 feet in elevation, what’s great about this park is its range of activities for wilderness explorers of all expertise levels. More than 90 miles of trail systems spread throughout 124,406 acres of wilderness are dotted with dozens of camping sites and backcountry hikes.  Some of the easier hikes are certainly kid friendly, like Pa’rus Trail (combining an easy hike with a dip in the Virgin River), Lower Emerald Pools Trail, Weeping Rock Trail, and Riverside Walk Trail. There are also more strenuous hikes, like Angels Landing, which give a breathtaking view of Zion Canyon.  The most classic hike in Zion — and one of the most beautiful in the American Southwest at large — is the Narrows, which goes through 10 miles of Zion Canyon at the north fork of the Virgin River. Whether you decide to do an overnight through-hike or go from the bottom of the Canyon up onto its ridges, you’ll wade through emerald stretches of the river for miles at a time. No matter what you choose to do, you should consider doing it in the fall. And you should spend at least a couple of days here, either before or after taking a 5-hour road trip toward Moab’s Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.

Hiking, river walk, swimming, river access, birding. Observation point trail.

Desert hiking, canyons, rivers, and waterfalls are just a few of the things offered at Zion. Like many of the canyons in the southwest United States, I am continuously awed by the beauty of these places and how they've been carved by nature millions of years ago.

United States Utah

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