We continued our trip after the Easter in St. George in Utah. While there, we visited beautiful Snow Canyon to scatter our Great Gramma’s ashes in the mountains, as she had always wished. We also had an Easter brunch with our extended family before heading to our next destination. We rarely get to see so much family at once, so it was nice to spend a little bit of time with them before hitting the road again.
The next night we stayed in a small town in Utah called Hurricane. It was very close to Zion National Park, and it was easy to head out to the park from there the next morning. Zion is definitely one of those places where you want to be early to find a parking spot and to do some hiking before it gets too hot. Otherwise you will be shuttled in from a nearby town called Springdale. This was our second time at Zion, so we had already seen some of the trails. Both times we had to skip the most demanding hikes though, since we were there with kids. Hopefully we get to do the Narrows and Angels Landing hikes someday in the future.
ZION NATIONAL PARK AND THE PARKING NIGHTMARE
Zion is the third most visited national park in the U.S. I do think, that I left my heart in Bryce Canyon, but I can see why so many people like Zion. It has a varied landscape and offers so many different kinds of trails and views. One can visit Zion multiple times and still feel like you haven’t seen everything. But there is one thing I really hate in these super popular national parks: the shuttle service. Even though I fully understand why it is necessary, it is a true drag when you are there with kids. It just makes access to the trails so much slower, and is not convenient if you need something from your car.
In Zion National Park you might end up using the shuttle twice instead of the usual one time. The parking lot by the Visitor Center fills up early in the morning, and if you arrive too late, you might have to park in Springdale, and take a shuttle to the park. Then you have to take another shuttle to Zion Valley where most of the trails are. For example, the Narrows and Emerald Pools trails start from there, and they have a nice little museum. This time the Emerald Pools Trail was closed due to some storm damage, but we had already hiked to the pools on our previous visit.
WATCHMAN TRAIL AND FALLING ON THE ROCKS
Since we had already visited Zion Valley on our previous visit, we decided to do one of the trails by the Visitor Center where we had parked our car. There were two trails; the Pa’rus Trail which was an easy hike, and the moderate Watchman Trail. We chose the Watchman Trail which was a twisty trail up to the mountain vista point. This trail was about 3 miles roundtrip and suitable for kids. At least our 6 year old did well on this path. When we reached the top we had some snacks, rested a little bit and let our toddler walk around after sitting in a carrier backpack for so long. And, of course took a lot of pictures!
I have to say, that even though we did have fun on this hike, there are many trails in Zion that in my opinion have better views than the Watchman Trail. The path has a lot of rocks and in a few places gets quite narrow, so you will have to wait for the people who are coming across. You should also watch your step. On our way back down from the mountain, I stepped on a big rock without noticing a little tiny one on it. My foot slipped and I fell pretty badly on top of the rocks. Somehow I twisted my thumb and it was quite painful. Ever since I have had to be careful when using it and the healing has been slow. Luckily at the bottom of the trail there was a river and I was able to soak my swollen thumb in the cold water. I think that helped a lot. Later they gave me an ice pack at the Visitor Center.
TRAILS FROM OUR LAST TRIP - EMERLAD POOLS, CHECKERBOARD MESA AND MANY POOLS
On our last visit to Zion we drove through the park. I would recommend everyone to do that since you can see so many cool places and rock formations from the road. There are also some really nice, smaller hikes that begin from the main road. Using a guide book, we found a spot with many pools filled with water that looked very interesting. I later read, that the place is called… Many Pools. Also, don’t forget to stop at the Checkerboard Mesa!
Checkerboard Mesa is an interesting rock formation shaped by erosion and nature. The wind has carved checkerboard like shapes on the rock wall, just like what we saw at Snow Canyon as well. You can see Checkerboard Mesa by stopping at a parking lot on the road, or by hiking closer to it.
Emerald Pools must be one of the most popular hikes in Zion. There are two beautiful pools shaped by nature at the mountain, and clear fresh water is stored in them after the rain. The hike is mostly steep up hill in order to get to the pools, but when coming down it is easier. We visited them both; Upper and Lower Emerald Pools.
After my accident, we decided to call it quits for the day and move on to our next destination on the road from Zion National Park. We drove to the town of Kanab where we stayed the night before heading to the Arizona side. In spite of my tripping and falling, we still had a great time in Zion and we hope to return there some day again soon!