Matt and I just got back from a quick, but amazing(!), two days in Zion National Park. If you’ve never been to Zion, you need to add it to the very top of your list. There is truly something for everyone, from nature walks to adventurous and adrenaline-pumping hikes.
Two Days in Zion National Park
Travel & Lodging
St. George airport is the closest airport to Zion National Park and there is a shuttle that takes you from the airport to Springdale! Which is great if you are staying in Springdale since there is a Springdale shuttle that gets you into the park. Springdale is the cute little resort-like town just outside of Zion National Park full of restaurants, shops, spas, B&Bs and hotels at varying price points. Flying into St. George or staying in Springdale can be cost-prohibitive though (you need to book months in advance to get the cheaper hotel stays!) so we went a different route.
We flew into Las Vegas, rented a car at the airport, and stayed in an AirBnB in Toquerville, Utah.
We stayed in the “Zion’s Nest” which was perfect for us! It’s a cute casita just 30 minutes and one left turn from Zion National Park. Our AirBnB hosts provided some breakfast/snacks (oatmeal, cereal, milk, water bottles and a Keurig with k-cups) and a comfortable and clean place to lay our heads after a long day of hiking. And have you seen the shower and tub?! Relaxation to the max. (I do wish we’d stayed somewhere with a pool because it was so-stinkin-hot and that would’ve been nice lol!)
On our way from Vegas to Toquerville, we stopped at a grocery store in St. George to pick up some necessities: bread, deli meat, and cheese for mid-hike sandwiches, pretzels and trail mix, nuun tablets, and iced coffee. The necessities!
On the recommendation of my friend, Nicole, we tried out River Rock Roasting Co. OMG. Those sandwiches were amazing after our first day of hiking and they were so cheap! Matt got the turkey and avocado panini and I got the turkey and cranberry sandwich. So delicious, so filling, and only $20!
When Matt and I travel, we lovelovelove to try new foods and local beers. We… did not do that this trip! We tried to eat in Springdale but the wait was nearly 45 minutes for 2 so we grabbed a scoop of ice cream from Zion Park Gift and Deli and ordered takeout from River Rock: pizza! It was okay! Not great, but we are spoiled with so many types of pizza in Chicago so I can’t complain.
For lunch on Day 2, we ate at Zion Canyon Brew Pub in Springdale. It was pricey-ish ($70 for a salad, an elk burger, a side of fries and two beers) but so delicious and with a beautiful view of the mountains! And the beers were cold. You can’t beat it!
And then dinner was once again from River Rock! We’re creatures of habit sometimes, what can I say?!
Now onto the good stuff… the hiking!
We drove into the park each morning and parked. Since we got there early enough, we did not need to show our Parks Pass ($80) or pay to park. (During business hours, you either need to pay to enter or purchase a national park pass which we already have.) You cannot drive to the major trailheads so you must park and take the park shuttle. The park shuttle begins running at 6 or 7 am depending on time of year.
Day One – Angel’s Landing & The Emerald Pools
We got on the shuttle around 6:30am and it was still pretty dark out! However when we got off the shuttle about 20 minutes later, there was enough light in the canyon to see the trail. The first hike we did was Angel’s Landing/Scout’s Overlook (stop 6 on the shuttle)
It’s a tough, but doable, hike since it is mostly paved for you and there is not any scrambling on rocks. Because we went so early, there weren’t too many people on the path but there was a definite traffic-jam at the top/waiting for Angel’s Landing. At the top of Scout’s Overlook, we took a break for a few minutes to rest up our legs before attempting Angel’s Landing. We went to the first landing of Angel’s Landing (between the first and second sets of chains) and decided that was enough for us. The amount of people trying to get up and down when you can only go in one direction scared the sh*t out of me. The views atop Scout’s Overlook are absolutely incredible – we even saw a condor! – so I don’t feel like we missed out on anything by not completing Angel’s Landing.
All in all, it took us about 4 hours to hike Scout’s Overlook. Since we still had some snacks and water left, we decided to check out the Emerald Pools Trail (stop 5 on the shuttle). This hike was also beautiful but very crowded and getting very hot.
Day Two – The Narrows
Equipment Rental: It is recommended that if you don’t have neoprene socks and water-resistant boots, that you rent some. We rented our equipment (along with a hiking stick!) from Zion Outfitters for about $30 each.
The Narrows Hike is tough, not because of heat or elevation – although it can get hot in the canyon! – but because you’re literally walking on rocks in a river. And the boots, when they get wet, can get heavy. (My hip flexors were killing me at the end!) From start to finish, The Narrows is about a 9 mile hike. We did 7 miles in total because the water started getting deeper and deeper (neither of us wanted to walk past mid-thigh-depth).
Tips: pack and wear thin layers – I went out in a hoodie and was sweating half the time and freezing the other half!
Hikes we missed but would’ve liked to do:
- Canyon Overlook – Nicole recommends going for sunrise! You can park at the trailhead but it’s a VERY small parking lot.
- Observation Point – this trailhead is currently closed due to falling rock
What to Pack (beyond the usual suspects)
We packed only a backpack each which, in hindsight, was a little crazy and I wish I would’ve had a suitcase. I both overpacked (didn’t wear some of the things I packed) and underpacked (wish I had thinner layers to choose from).
- Hydration Backpack
- Collapsible water bottle
- Body Glide
- Reusable water bottle (for when you’re not hiking)
- Gym shoes (I don’t own hiking boots and was fine)
- A hat (baseball or bucket!)
- Moisturizer! It’s so freakin dry in the desert!!
And there we have it! Two days in Zion National Park! Our National Park Pass is good through June 2022 – where should we go next?!