The second stop on our road trip to the Utah parks was Zion. Zion was also settled by Mormon settlers, but their homes and structures are long gone. They named the canyon Zion, which means the kingdom of Heaven. The canyon is the primary draw of this park and it is full of trails and streams and waterfalls that visitors can hike to. One narrow road runs through Zion Canyon, and during the summer months the only cars allowed on this road are shuttles run by the park service.

Here’s me with the sign at the entrance to Zion!

Zion has a lot of very interesting hikes and sights. One of its largest attractions is the Narrows, which is a trail that goes farther up into the canyon than the road. It’s so popular because the trail is the river. You need special pants, shoes, and poles because the water is very cold and you are hiking against the current. You can go up to 16 miles up the river before the canyon becomes too narrow to fit through. It also has a hike called Angels Landing, which is famous partially because five people have died trying to hike it. It goes to a point that is 5,790 feet above sea level that gives a view of the entire Zion canyon. I did not do this hike, but I am planning to do it next time I’m there in the summer.

We got up early to make sure we could some hikes in before it got too hot and before the huge crowds showed up. Our first one was to the Emerald Pools, a hike up to three waterfalls. We hiked to the first two, but getting to third one meant going up a strenuous trail and no one in my family wanted to do that. As it was the hike was difficult; the waterfalls made it slick in some places and it was pretty steep in others. We decided that a break was in order after this hike because it looked like rain was on the way. We went to the lodge in the park and got lemonade to wait for the sun to come back out.

My family, however, decided that they didn’t want to wait the entire time. We left the lodge when the rain had been reduced to a drizzle and took the shuttle all the way to the end of the road, where there is a path alongside the river. I stopped a little ways in and sat down because my leg was tired, but my family continued walking. I don’t know exactly how long I was sitting there, but it was a long time and I was freezing. I’m still a little mad at them for leaving me by myself in the rain and wind for so long!

This was the most gorgeous sunset I’ve ever seen or ever will see.

We visited Zion again in January of 2017 while we were out west skiing. I had thought previously that the parks could not be more beautiful, but then I saw them with snow and my mind was completely changed. The contrast of the white snow against such red rocks was stunning. We drove the length of the road and saw mountain goats and deer searching for food. The sunset in the park that night was the most beautiful one that I’ve ever seen. I don’t think there’ll ever be one that tops it.

Zion is definitely one of my favorite national parks. Out of the 9 I’ve visited, Zion ranks #2 on my list of favorites. Next up on the road trip: Bryce Canyon National Park.