This past summer we took a trip out west. We had an extended weekend and wanted to see a few different sites, but Zion was at the top of our list. We arrived into Las Vegas airport and took a drive to stay in La Verkin, Utah. We stayed in La Verkin because of the availability and affordability. Springdale, which is right at the entrance of Zion National Park was quite expensive for what was left. Since we got in late the night before we didn’t get the earliest start. Which when I say earliest we were still up by 7am heading to the park. La Verkin is about a 20 minute drive to Zion’s entrance.
8:00am -Arrive at Zion National Park.
If you get there early enough you can park in their parking lot and walk right up to the shuttle system. If you arrive any later than 9am during the peak summer months you may have to park in town and get a shuttle to the entrance, which adds on more time. Shuttles run every 7-15 minutes. When we arrived there was already a bit of a line but nothing awful. Get off the bus stop at “Weeping Rock” to hike Observation Point.
9:00am- Start hiking Observation Point.
Observation Point is a strenuous 8 mile (round trip) hike. It takes about 4-6 hours to complete. Along the way you get to see Echo Canyon and views a stunning view of Zion’s Canyon. With the hike’s 2,100 feet elevation gain you get a great view of the Angel’s Landing formation at Observation Point. We ate snacks along the way then our lunch at the top of Observation Point with a grand view of Zion. We packed about 3 liters of water each for this hike in the summer heat and almost went through all of our water by the end of the trail, it was hot! So prepare!
12:00pm- Hike the short .5 mile hike to Weeping Rock.
This was nothing like the views we saw on Observation Point but the water splashing off the rocks made it a refreshing spot to enjoy another jerky stick as a pick me up after the hike down from Observation Point. This is a great overlook from people that cannot make the long 8 mile hike.
From here we got on the shuttle to plan to hike the Narrows, but unfortunately once we arrived at the river we found out it was closing due to a flash flood warning. We left both afternoons open because of this. We knew we wanted to hike this before we left. Since the Narrows were closed we headed to our back up plan. The Watchman Trail.
2:00pm- The Watchman Trail
This hike is a 3 mile (round trip) hike. This hike should take an 1-2 hours to complete. This hike is not super strenuous but in the afternoon heat and after the Observation Point hike it is definitely something to take slowly. We powered through it, but please only do this hike if you are feeling it and in good shape. Although this is not the most difficult trail the sun beats down on you in the afternoon, so take it slow and drink plenty of water. At the end end of the trail you get a flat area to get a view of the visitor center and canyon.
5:00pm- Dinner and Drink in Springdale.
La Verkin does not have a ton of options for food and drinks so we got dinner on our way out. I was first nervous to go into restaurants due to our sweaty and dusty appearances, but being such an active area no one seemed to care. We ordered a delicious pizza and cal-zone at Zion Pizza and Noddle Company. It was delicious and sooo cheesy. But who cares after all the hiking we did! The beers tasted great, and of course more water! Stay hydrated folks!
Start this day the earliest you can. We actually woke up around 4:30am to get ready, eat breakfast and begin driving to Zion from La Verkin by 5:15am. Try your best to catch the first shuttle bus at 6am, we actually got the 2nd bus around 6:15, we were running a little behind. But it still worked out. The reason you want the first bus is that Angel’s Landing can get dangerous and sketchy the more people that are on it. To enjoy it more you don’t want it to be too crowded.
6:00am- Catch first bus, getting off at the 6th stop at The Grotto Trailhead.
7:00am- Start your hike to Angel’s Landing
Angel’s Landing is a 4.8 mile (round trip) hike. With a 1500 feet elevation gain. With this drastic elevation change comes LOTS of switchbacks. Depending on how crowded this hike should take you 3-6 hours. After two miles of hiking comes the last half mile before you turn around. This is the best part. Holding on to the chains and keeping cautious footing to the trail definitely gets your heart beating. The views and adrenaline are all worth it. But do be careful. We didn’t spend much time at the top, just enough for some pictures and taking in the views while we enjoyed a quick jerky stick and granola bar before heading back. The steep half mile going back was the worse part, it started to get crowded and going around people on a steep cliff edge was nerve racking.
11:00am-12:00pm- get on shuttle to Narrows.
Once at the Narrows fill up your hydration packs (we took this time to also switch our backpacks to our waterproof bags) and get moving. We wanted to do this the last part of the day so our shoes were not wet for the rest of the hikes that day. Just to get to the opening of the river was a 1 mile hike on a paved path called the Riverwalk Trail.
1:00pm- start hiking The Narrows.
The Narrows you can hike as far as you want but just keep in mind you have to hike that back. I wanted a lot of time for this hike because I wanted to get to the deeper canyon part. So we were on this hike for many hours. But you hike what you wish. If you decide to not go as far then you may have time for a shorter hike in Zion this day, such as Emerald Pools or Weeping Rock if you did not do the day before, if you have enough energy.
5:00pm- Take in the last views of Zion on the way out, and grab some grub.
We were done for the day, we changed out of our wet shoes in the parking lot and headed for dinner and some brews!
I recommend Zion Brewing Company for some great burgers, beer cheese and pretzels and a flight of beers to sample. Zion Brewing Company had a great view of Zion from their patio. And of course re-hydrate yourself after a long day of hiking with plenty of water!