Visiting Zion National Park : the Oldest in Utah, USA

Posted 10 December 2014 by

Zion National Park is Utah’s first national park, bring established in 1919. The park boasts of spectacular hiking trails winding through some of the state’s highest sandstone cliffs and utterly magnificent sceneries. The 590 km² Park is home to the Zion Canyon, the Virgin River, and a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Over the years, Zion has become a major tourist attraction in Utah, attracting not only local visitors, but also tourists from all over the world. In fact, it is normal for the park to have over a million visitors every year.

The park is certainly one of the best places in the country to experience the beauty of nature. However, if you want to visit, you’ll need to plan your trip carefully so that you’ll be able to see most of the major attractions while you’re there.

Getting to Zion National Park

The closest international airport is McCarran International in Las Vegas. The drive from the airport to the park will take around 3 hours. Unfortunately, there isn’t any public transportation servicing Zion so you’ll need to rent a car or an RV in Las Vegas. However, if you booked your trip through a travel agency, then they should be able to provide a tourist bus.

All vehicles entering the park will have to pay a fee. RV’s will cost a bit more because they’ll need to pay an additional fee when passing through the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel.

Getting Around the Park

The first thing you should do is to visit one of the two visitor centers. If you’re coming through the South entrance, you’ll need to visit the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. If entering through the West entrance, you’ll be visiting the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center.

One of the reasons why you’ll want to pass through the visitor center is to get to know more about the park and places you’ll likely want to see. You can also see a quick overview of the park at the park museum, which is located near the South entrance.

Activities

Hiking is the main activity in the park, so make sure you bring the proper hiking gear and equipment. However, there are plenty of other activities such as biking, canyoneering, climbing, river boating, horseback riding, and camping.

Some of the activities are led by park rangers who will present a treasure of information regarding the park, its history, the flora & fauna, and practically everything there is to know about the landscape.

The hiking trails in the park are excellent, but you will need to be prepared. Safety is the main concern when it comes to hiking the trails and it is your sole responsibility. There are plenty of trails to choose from; some focus on the Zion Canyon while others on the Zolob Canyon.

One of the most popular trails is called The Narrows, which begins at the east side of Zion and terminates at Zion Canyon. You’ll be passing through unbelievable cliffs and doing a bit of wading in the Virgin River. The whole trail is 16 kilometers and can be completed in a day, but it will be up to you on how much time you want to spend walking the route.

Rock Climbing & Canyoneering

Climbing is another popular activity, but one that requires skill. All visitors interested in doing some climbing and canyoneering should first visit the visitor’s center to familiarize themselves with the areas available for this activity and the rules of the park. Some areas are closed in certain seasons or due to bad weather.

There are two types of canyons in the park; the easy and the difficult. Most prefer the easy canyons. The difficult canyons are more technical, so you’ll need to have experience.

Accommodation

There won’t be any hotels available inside the park aside from Zion Lodge, but there are several about an hour or more drive from the entrance. Most visitors to the park will not be staying at the hotels near the area; they’ll be at the camping grounds.

Camping is a popular activity in the park and there are a number of camping grounds within the park and a lot more within the immediate vicinity. Some of the camping grounds have complete facilities and these usually charge fees. Some grounds are free to use but they won’t have as much facilities like tap water. Safety

The park authorities exert a lot of effort in making sure that all the visitors are safe. They will regularly post weather conditions at the visitor centers. Unfortunately, some conditions are difficult to predict and can happen at any moment, so it’s best to be alert when on the trails or doing any activities.

More Pictures of Zion National Park

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