Road Trip Stop #12: Zion National Park

August 2, 2016

Zion National Park

By the time we reached Zion National Park on day 13 of our road trip, I was feeling a little over it. I had enough of living out of a backpack, driving for hours, and switching hotels nearly every night. We had visited a bunch of National Parks and after Bryce, was feeling ready to just get to our destination.

Then I entered Zion.

Zion National Park

This park went beyond my expectations and its beauty totally changed my mindset, I could have visited National Parks and continued our road trip for a few more weeks!

The first day we spent in Zion was the late afternoon. We stopped by the info desk to chat with a park ranger and get his recommendations. I cannot recommend doing this enough! If you are in a place you don’t know, talk to the locals and get insider info, it will completely change your experience.

The ranger suggested we start with the hike to Angel’s Landing. This had been recommended to me by a few people and while I wanted to do it, I was really scared. I like hiking, but not on the edge of cliffs that I might clumsily fall off of. We started on a 45-minute steep hike up a windy road, leading us to Angel’s Landing.

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Angel’s Landing is extremely steep and scary. As you get to the top, there’s a sign with the number of people who had died on the hike; this was not encouraging. A few years ago the park added chains to make the top of the hike more secure and since then no one has died. Had I known that fact, I may have gone further, but to be on the safe side, I did part of the chained hike, took in the views and then turned myself around. The views were good enough from where I was! It was late in the day, crowded and windy. Seemed like a safe bet to stay where I felt comfortable.

Angel's Landing

I don’t think this picture shows off how close we were to the cliff edge at all, so just trust me.

We headed back down and exited the park, heading into the cute town of Springdale for dinner at Oscar’s Cafe. All I wanted after my intense hike was a margarita. Oh Utah. The only “margarita” on the menu was one made with moscato wine because the restaurant was located near a school. No thanks!  Even so, I’d still recommend Oscar’s for the tasty southwestern fare and carrot cake.

We spent the night at Pioneer Lodge which was a fine motel, nothing special but did the trick. The motel was set with a view of the park behind it, which was gorgeous. But I did see some other good looking hotels nearby (next time!).

The next morning we grabbed coffee and an avocado toast (highly recommend both) at Rock Creek Coffee and headed back into the park, this time to take on The Narrows hike, also recommended to us by the park ranger. We rented stabilizing sneakers and walking sticks and headed deep into the park. A bit of advice: Zion doesn’t allowed cars on most roads winding through the park. Instead, you have to take a bus to the various hikes. Get to the park early! We didn’t get there nearly early enough and were waiting in super long lines, it felt like Disney.

It’s okay though, the wait was 100% worth it to get to The Narrows, located towards the top of the park. The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion and requires hiking through the water, ranging from ankle to waist deep. I was told at some parts, depending on recent rain, it could be over your head. Fortunately, we only went up to waist deep. The water was chilly but for some reason it didn’t bother me and mostly felt refreshing.

We traveled about 2-3 hours into the Narrows, found some super narrow slots, and then returned back to the start. I am still in awe of this experience. The hike was definitely one of my favorite ever and is the most unique I’ve ever been on.

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Zion National Park

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Zion National Park

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If you visit Zion, do not miss this hike. Be sure to check weather for flash floods that can make this a very dangerous or deadly hike. Also, I recommend renting the shoes and hiking sticks available within the park because it will make your hike safer and more secure. Not to mention you won’t ruin your shoes.

After our hike we headed to dinner at Bit and Spur. Here’s the place to head for margaritas! I got the jalapeno marg of course and MM went for the mango marg. We split the brie, walnut and apple quesadilla and the carne asada, both so good.

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The town of Springdale, located right near Zion National Park has amazing views from every angle. I could sit there and sip a margarita all day just taking in the views. If you are visiting Zion, this is the best area to stay in.

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The next morning we grabbed a hearty breakfast at MeMe’s Cafe before heading on to LA.

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Me and Ollie hanging at Zion

Zion National Park

Looking back at my Zion photos, I don’t think it accurately captures the beauty of this place. If you are exploring National Parks, don’t skip this one.

And finally, we’re nearing the end of our road trip! I’ll be back later this week with our visit to LA and our final journey to San Francisco.

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