Zion in a Day

You read the title right! This post tells you how to do Zion in a Day! I am amazed at the number of people who have lived in Utah for years and have never gone down to Zion National Park. People travel from across the GLOBE to see Southern Utah! You’d be crazy not to go at least once!

Not to mention, we have made this handy dandy “Zion in a Day” trip report so you can experience the best of Zion over a short weekend!

Watchman Campground, Zion National Park.

So lets get down to the “nitty gritty” shall we…Last summer, we road-tripped down to Zion from Provo. (The drive took about four hours and we arrived around 11:30am.) We completed three hikes:

  1. Riverside Walk Trail 
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Length: 2 miles round trip
    • Trailhead: Take the Zion Shuttle all the way to to the Temple of Siniwava
  2. The Narrows (just to the Wall Street section)
    • Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
    • Length: 5 miles roundtrip from the Temple of Siniwava
    • Trailhead: The Narrows begins at the end of the Riverside Walk Trail.
  3. Canyon Overlook Trail
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Length: 1 mile round trip
    • Trailhead: Park in the small parking lot right at the end of the Zion Mount-Carmel Tunnel on Route 9. RIGHT at the end of the tunnel! The trailhead is across the road.

We also reserved a night at Watchman Campground. (I chose to post this Zion trip report now, because the Watchman Campground starts taking reservations in April and you need to book as soon as possible!)

Tip: Zach purposefully scheduled the trip for the new moon so we got some amazing night sky views when the stars came out! It. Was. Beautiful. I have never seen the stars so clearly, and I am from the ‘middle of nowhere’ Kansas!

Ok. Heres the thing about Zion that I didn’t know: Zion is small. You will see the whole park tour via the shuttle in about 40 minutes! I was a little skeptical when I realized this but wow, this place packs a punch! 

The most popular hikes in the park are probably The Narrows and Angels’ Landing (those are the two they feature on their patches). Both of these hikes are considered moderate to strenuous, HOWEVER, I am going to tell you a little trick to make these hikes doable even if you have young kids, low stamina or happen to be seven-months pregnant like I was.

Don’t do the whole hike. 

If you can’t do the whole Narrows, don’t have time, or just want a sampling of the Narrows: just select a turn-around point from the landmarks listed on the map below. (I found the map on canyoneeringusa.com.)

From canyoneeringusa.com
From canyoneeringusa.com

We wanted to at least reach Mystery Falls in the Narrows, and at most, reach the part known as ‘Wall Street.’

We ended up reaching Wall Street, which took longer, but it was very worth it. We had to cut out some of the other small hikes we had planned to do that day, but really: the Narrows is like a sampling of everything they have in Zion, so no big deal.

Here is our first landmark stop at Mystery Falls.

Mystery Falls in the Narrows at Zion National Park, UT.

I feel like anyone could get at least to this point in the Narrows easily, even with kids. Keep in mind that you are going through a river, so you will get wet. Zach and I made the trek in water shoes and ski poles doubling as trekking poles. (If you are take actual trekking poles, be sure to bring rubber tech tips for the rocky river bottom.)

Tip: Don’t skip out on the water shoes and trekking poles. If you are caught in The Narrows without them, you look like a clumsy goober.

Turning around at Mystery Falls makes the whole hike about two miles round trip from the Temple of Sinawava where the shuttle drops you off. It is important to note that to reach the Narrows, you have to take The Riverside Walk Trail.

Tip: If you don’t want to get your feet wet, still take the Zion shuttle to The Riverside Walk Trail because it is gorgeous! Plus: you will get the whole shuttle tour of Zion National Park on the way there.

Below, Zach and I are at my favorite part of the hike. I loved the colors on the canyon walls and the color of the water – the photo does not do it justice.

The Narrows
The Narrows

We made it to Wall Street – you’ll know you reached this spot when you see the Orderville Canyon branch off to the right. This is approximately the half-way point you could also just mark the coordinates for the landmark you wish to reach in your hiking GPS. (We really like our Garmin eTrex 10, so I included it in the “Gear We Love” box on the right sidebar of the page.)

After reaching the Orderville Junction, we headed back down, but still wanted to get in one last hike before the sun set!

Out of the Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock or Canyon Overlook trails we opted for Canyon Overlook, and I have absolutely no regrets! (We felt like we had our fill of water and weeping rock formations in the Narrows.)

Canyon Overlook was stunning! I feel like it was a little secret treasure that not many people try because of how short it is and the fact that you have to drive to it inside Zion.

To see the second half of this trip report with the Canyon Overlook Trail, please click here!

If you feel like you need more info on the Narrows like when the flash flood season is or gear rental options go here.

Note: If you have any questions regarding Zion National Park’s regulations on dogs, please visit http://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/pets.htm .