We traveled from Page, AZ to Zion National Park, Utah’s first national park, arriving via the East Entrance fairly early in the day. This entrance is about 13 miles from the Visitor Center and we had planned to go there directly, but we were stunned by the scenery! We stopped at several pull outs along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway which were just beautiful!

The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel is a mile long tunnel, constructed in the 1920’s. We found ourselves waiting almost 15 minutes to get through. The tunnel is just over 13 feet at the center and can only accommodate smaller campers, but they have to pay a fee to pass through, and when they pass, the tunnel traffic is stopped in the other direction. This means that much of the day, one direction of traffic, or the other, will end up waiting so that the campers can pass through.

Upon arrival at the Visitor Center, we found the parking lot was full so we had to LEAVE the park, and find parking in the town of Springdale where we could ride the free shuttle back in. Of course, the parking is not free.

Finally back in the park, we boarded a shuttle bus to go up into Zion Canyon. The road into the canyon is only accessible by shuttle. Steve had wrenched his knee the day before so we were sticking to easy trails. Our first trail was the Zion Narrows Riverside Walk at the top of the canyon road. It’s a two mile, level, paved out and back, along the river that comes through the canyon.

Following that, we traveled down canyon, stopping at most of the shuttle stops and hiking a couple of short trails. One hike that we really wanted to do was the Kayenta Trail to the Emerald Pools and Zion Lodge. Steve was only able to do the closest of the three pools because the trail became more strenuous and he was ready to ice his knee again.

The second day, we got back to the park early and parked at the Visitor Center. Steve’s knee had improved so we hiked the three mile Watchman Trail, a beautiful morning hike. The last image below was taken by our daughter Lauren at sunrise the day after we hiked it (more about how Lauren was involved at the end of this post).

After the hike, we decided to drive to the East Entrance and more fully explore the Mount Carmel Scenic Highway. Just after we got through the tunnel (with just a short wait this time), we parked and hiked the 1 mile Zion Canyon Overlook Trail, another fabulous hike, and Steve’s knee was holding up well.

After the hike, we finished the ride out to the East Entrance and spent more time enjoying the overlooks and even found a group of Big Horn Sheep!

Finally at the end, we turned around and drove back to the main entrance, then met our daughter, Lauren, for dinner. She had a conference on Vegas and decided to go to Zion for the weekend before heading back to Boston. We only had the evening to visit but we gave her the full scoop on where the best views were so she could enjoy her 2 days in the park.

In case you couldn’t tell from reading this, our favorite section of the park was the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, because the scenery was stunning, you didn’t need to take a shuttle, and that section of the park was much less crowded. In fact, when we left our hotel this morning to drive to Bryce Canyon, we chose to drive through Zion one last time along that highway.

Lastly, Lauren send us a picture this morning of a view from one of her hikes.

A photo from one of Lauren's hikes at Zion

About Author

Karen is a retired software developer, now exploring our beautiful country with her husband, Steve.

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