Weekend Guide to Zion National Park
Zion National Park is one of the most spectacular and unique national parks in the entire United States. With breathtaking views and beautiful steep red cliffs, it truly stands on its own as one of America’s natural treasures. We recently made a stop in Zion on a two week road trip throughout the Western United States, and we were able to try both of the park’s most popular hikes. This guide will give you all you need in order to make your weekend getaway the best it can possibly be.
Things to Know
Zion National Park is only accessible by Bus. You cannot park any further up the canyon than the Park Lodge. If you are looking to go up to the Narrows or Angels Landing, you should park at the Visitor Center and take an early bus. DO NOT TRY TO DRIVE UP THE CANYON FURTHER TO GET A SPOT AND CATCH THE BUS, THEY WILL DRIVE BY YOU AS THEY FILL UP AT THE VISITOR CENTER.
The earlier you go hiking, the more you will enjoy it. We went during the summer when it was extremely busy even on weekdays. But since we left on the first bus each morning, we were able to enjoy each hike without any trouble of crowds.
Where to Stay
Majestic View Lodge
Nestled right outside of the park is this gem of a hotel, the Majestic View Lodge. The Majestic View boasts views of the Eastern red Cliffs of Zion, each room has a porch that you can sit out on and enjoy the beautiful views. We have stayed at the Majestic View lodge on each of our stays in Zion, the service has been top notch. We don’t like to always get room service on each day, so we were surprised when they dropped off refills on the door of our room for our towels, shower gels, tissues, etc.
Arkansas Al’s Steakhouse is the restaurant on the property, and we have actually eaten there and really did enjoy the food. The Steak is a great option if you are looking for a nice meal after a long day on the trails. The view from the restaurant is very beautiful as well.
We always look to the Majestic View Lodge as our first choice for lodging in the Zion area, and we would highly recommend booking a stay here if you are in town at any point.
Where to Eat
When looking for a great place to eat, it can be difficult in an area around a national Park, especially if you have food allergies like we do. So we wanted to give you a couple of our personal favorites.
Cafe Soleil is a great option right in Springdale that is perfect for a quick lunch, or brunch after hiking for the day. We actually made two stops here the weekend that we were in town, and we LOVED the food here. Their hot sandwiches are to die for, and they even had Gluten-Free options for Stefanie, this place was definitely a favorite of ours.
Juniper Pizza was a great dinner option for us. If you happen to stay at the Majestic view lodge, a great thing that we enjoyed doing was ordering take-out from Juniper Pizza and taking it out on our porch at the Majestic View to enjoy the sunset and beautiful Utah colors in the evenings. Again, they have many gluten free options that Stefanie could enjoy. Watch out, their BBQ Pork Mac N’ Cheese is so good! Almost ordered it on back to back nights!
Where to Hike
On our trip through the Narrows someone told us that they had read a book on the hike which stated that in the Narrows “It is not about the destination, but rather the Journey.” We both could not find this to be any more true about this spectacular and unique hike. The Narrows is the last hike at the end of the canyon in Zion National Park. You hike one mile on a paved path to the trailhead where you must put on your water hiking boots and brave the trail ahead. The trail for the Narrows at many places is completely under the water and quite rocky. There is truly nothing like this hike, with no real end point, you can hike for hours up this stream (we hiked for 3.5 hours up stream) and through the canyon. We were mesmerized by the beauty all around us, and by the experience of hiking in the water, it was something we will never forget!
Rent water hiking boots in town, and poles. This will make your hike more enjoyable, and will allow you to go further in the canyon.
We did not follow this advice and paid dearly for it in foot pain.
Go Very early in the morning to this hike. First bus leaves the canyon at 6am from the shuttle stop at the visitor center. Be there at 5:45 am so that you can be on the first bus. This will help you miss the crowds on the hike, and really be able to take in the experience. There were a TON of people when we came back down from the hike. We were so glad that we left early.
Quite possibly our favorite hike in the entire canyon, Angels Landing is an exhilarating experience of courage and spectacular views. If you are looking to test yourself, and conquer your fears, this is a great hike to take on. Listed by many sites as one of the five most dangerous hikes in America, Angels landing is a unique blend of beauty and achievement.
Four years prior to our last trip, we made it almost to the top of Angels landing, but we were too scared to continue hiking due to the use of chains (to hold on to) and the 1,000 foot drops on either side of the trail. This year however, we decided to go up the chains to the top. Let me tell you, IT IS WORTH IT. We felt such a feeling of accomplishment, and the views were second to none.
This hike gets it name from people saying that this peak was so high that only Angels could land on the top of it. It truly was an experience, you get a 360 degree view of the entire Zion National Park. This hike is the most difficult, but it is also quite the experience. This is our number one most recommended hike in the canyon.
When you hike up to the part where the chains start, just keep going, don’t sit and think about it. The longer you wait, the most chances you have to talk yourself out of it. If you want to make it up, you have to just go!Go Very early in the morning to this hike. First bus leaves the canyon at 6am from the shuttle stop at the visitor center. Be there at 5:45 am so that you can be on the first bus. This will help you miss the crowds on the hike, and really be able to take in the experience. Less people on the chains means the hike is less scary to go up and down, going early is well worth it. There were a TON of people when we came back down from the hike. We were so glad that we left early.