10 Best Beautiful Spots in Zion National Park

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    Zion National Park - Zion, Utah

    Upon entering Zion National Park from the east, on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, it instantly becomes obvious you are in a spectacular rock wonderland.  Majestic sandstone formations up to 8,700 feet, dating back millions of years, surround you and it's easy to understand how Zion (meaning promised land) got its name.  Nature's forces pushing up the Colorado plateau, and waters from the Virgin River carved out its valleys, making Zion what it is. Entrance fee is $25/private vehicle, good for 7 days.

    Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

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    Checkerboard Mesa, Zion National Park

    After passing through the one mile historic Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, completed over 80 years ago and the first million dollar highway of its kind, you'll find yourself at the first pull-off spot on the road, at Checkerboard Mesa.  The fascinating criss-cross pattern, known as cross-bedding, on this 900 foot rock is due to wind erosion and weathering.  It is possible to take the 2 mile hike to the top, but it is quite strenuous.  Most prefer to snap pictures from this viewpoint.

    Photo courtesy of Alaskan Dude

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    Entrance to Zion National Park

    Located in southwestern Utah, Zion National Park is Utah's first national park and has what are considered the best hiking trails in Utah.  Spectacular is more like it.  Covering 229 square miles, or 147,000 acres, its beautiful red, pink and white sandstone cliffs provide awe-inspiring scenery and serenity.  Part of the Grand Staircase, including Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks, Zion has been drawing people since its first inhabitants over 12,000 years ago. Carved out by the Virgin River, John Wesley Powell once said of Zion Canyon, "All this is the music of waters."

    Photo courtesy of Larry 1732

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    Visitor Center at Zion National Park

    Take the town shuttle in Springdale to the entrance of Zion National Park (don't forget to bring your park pass).  Here is where you will find the Visitor Center, with helpful staff to help you plan your visit and hand out backcountry permits, needed for overnight hikes and technical slot canyons.  Inside is a vast gift shop with an array of souvenirs and also great books and maps.  Outside are displays with maps of attractions and there are park rangers who give informational talks.  Leave your car here and jump on the shuttle to view the park.

    Photo courtesy of daveynin

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    Zion Park Shuttle Buses

    The Zion Park Shuttle buses, new since 1997, are located adjacent to the Zion Visitor Center and run very frequently throughout the park, stopping at 8 locations, where you can board and re-board as much as you like - it's free.  The shuttle system definitely eliminates traffic and parking hassles.  Enjoy seeing the park and hearing the informative talks playing on the audio recording, explaining what you are seeing out the window.  The shuttle runs the length of Zion Canyon and from start to finish it is about a seven mile 90 minute loop.

    Photo courtesy of Ken Lund

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    View from Walter's Wiggles Trail

    Leading up to Angel's Landing, which provides spectacular views of Zion Canyon, is a famous section of the trail called Walter's Wiggles, named after the park's first supervisor.  It is a series of 21 switchbacks cut out of the rock in the 1920's, originally designed for getting horses up to Scout's Landing.  After one "Squiggles the Wiggles," it is here that the weak in stomach usually turn back, as the narrow trail moving on to the top, some parts providing chain railings, can be quite daunting.

    Photo courtesy of brewbooks

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    Human History Museum, Zion National Park

    The Human History Museum is the first stop the Zion shuttle bus makes.  It is here that you can see a free 22 minute film, giving an informative park overview.  Exhibits are available to view, showcasing the ancient Indian cultures and artifacts, the effects of water on the park and even former Zion employee diaries and photographs.  Books, posters and souvenirs are available in the Museum bookstore, as are Rangers to answer questions.  Beautiful views of the Towers of the Virgin rock formation can be seen here.

    Photo courtesy of Ken Lund

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    View from Angels Landing at Sunset

    Angels Landing is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in all the National Parks.  The hearty 2 mile uphill trail culminates in a narrow sandstone ridge, flanked by sheer drop-offs on either side, with stunning views of the valleys 1,500 feet below.  Not for the faint at heart, this hike should be started early in the day (average hiking time is 5 hours), as most of it is in full sun and should not be attempted when trails are wet. 

    Photo courtesy of Trodel

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    Zion Lodge at Zion National Park

    Zion Lodge, originally built in the 1920's and rebuilt after a fire in the 1960's, is the only in-park lodging, situated right at the base of tall cliff walls, with greenery all around.  The Lodge features hotel rooms and suites with fireplaces, private cabins, dining and an outdoor cafe.  Hop on the shuttle bus here to explore more of the park or walk across to the popular Emerald Pools trail, where waterfalls can be seen leaving black streaks on the rock walls.

    Photo courtesy of SowersPics

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    Narrows Trail at Zion National Park

    Known as the "grandfather of all slot canyons," the Narrows Trail is the most popular in the park, providing an opportunity at one point, to reach out and touch the 2,000 foot, dramatic, parallel rock walls.  60% of the trail is actually in the water, at one point waist deep, as the trail itself is the Virgin River.  Sometimes you are walking along the banks, but walking sticks are necessary as it is very rocky and unstable.  Wear very sturdy shoes!

    Photo courtesy of markbyzewski

About Jennifer Boren

A native of Oklahoma, by way of New Mexico and now Utah, Jennifer Boren makes her home in Salt Lake City.  A total lover of Park City, she spends many weekends there, especially in the summer for all the outdoor activities.  A thrill this past summer was seeing the cyclists in the Tour of Utah cross the finish line right on the historic Main Street. A former professional ballet dancer, she now teaches at the University of Utah and another local studio and enjoys seeing Ballet West performances.  Her son is also a professional dancer. 

Read more about Jennifer Boren here.

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