Our mom works in the travel industry and we grew up traveling the world from a very young age. We started to get into photography about ten years ago and have really made that the focus of our blog and Instagram now.
Both of us love capturing photos of the places we visit and sharing those memories to inspire others to get out there and travel. Due to COVID-19, we have been limited in our travels for this year. Yet, we still desired to travel domestically across the US. So we selected some COVID safe destinations.
National parks were a great choice! Zion National Park, along with many other parks, has been on our list for a while. We normally jump at the chance to travel internationally and have not yet taken the opportunity to explore much of our own backyard. Given the season and timing, Utah was perfect. That is what influenced us to choose Zion National Park.
Three Days at Zion National Park
We traveled to Utah for one week and enjoyed a full day in Zion plus two half-days. Because of the pandemic and construction, certain trails were closed when we went including Angels Landing. We recommend checking ahead of time in order to plan accordingly. See our itinerary below:
- Day 1: Riverside Walk + Mount Carmel Highway Scenic Drive (½ day)
- Day 2: Kayenta Trail + Emerald Pools (½ day)
- Day 3: Watchman & Canyon Overlook Trails + Lunch in Springdale (full day)
Things To Do in Zion National Park
We enjoyed all of the trails we did in Zion National Park. Each hike had its own unique beauty. Out of the ones we did, we really liked the Kayenta Trail and Emerald Pools. The mix of greenery, rocks and water was stunning.
From our experience at Zion plus the research we did, the following adventures are a must-do. Firstly, go hiking on the various trails. There are about 18 different hiking tracks you can choose from. Another couple of must-do’s are hiking The Narrows and doing the Mount Carmel Highway Scenic Drive. Don’t forget to explore Springdale and go camping too!
Where to Stay in Zion National Park
There are so many awesome places to stay near Zion National Park. Springdale is the most popular place as it’s located right at the edge of the park. You can choose from luxury rentals and hotels to airbnbs and hostels.
Visiting Zion during COVID-19
Zion did a great job of ensuring safety for visitors. Masks are required in common areas like the visitor centres, bathrooms and shuttle. Definitely bring your own mask! If you forget it for some reason, they will provide you with a disposable one. And be courteous by keeping your distance.
When we visited parts of Angels Landing were closed to COVID. Weeping Rock, Hidden Canyon and Observation Point were also closed. Check ahead of time to get an updated list of which trails are open on your visit to Zion.
What to Wear in the National Park
Check the weather forecast before you go to determine what would be comfortable clothes to pack. We were fine with shorts/leggings and kept a light jacket on hand for the early morning cold. Hiking boots are always a plus. However, we were fine on the hikes we did with good grip sneakers. Don’t forget your sunglasses and a cap too!
Food and Water Considerations
Make sure you bring water bottles! There are water filling stations at stops like the Visitors Center and Zion National Park Lodge, as well as water taps at the other starting points. You can also purchase food at Zion Lodge.
If you are looking for restaurant options for a nice lunch break or quick pre-hike coffee/breakfast or post-hike dinner – there are tons of options in Springdale. It also doesn’t hurt to keep some bars and snacks in your backpack for a quick energy boost as and when you need it on the trails.
Admissions, Shuttle & Car Parking
It costs $35 per car per day at Zion National Park but we already purchased the National Parks Annual Pass for just $80! We made our money back with just these three visits to Zion and it is valid for a whole year.
During the peak months, you will need to use the Zion Shuttle to access the scenic drive/interior of the park. Shuttle tickets may be purchased 15-30 days in advance and they cost just $1. You can also reserve tickets at 9am MST the day before you go. Tickets for the next day become available 9am MST the previous day for those who don’t book far in advance.
Everyday after 3pm, the shuttle is free and available to use without reservation (we did this on the first two days). Keep in mind, the last shuttles leave the interior of the park between 7-8pm. Don’t wait for the last shuttle as there will be lines. We recommend taking the shuttle at 7pm.
When it comes to parking, there is a main parking lot at the Visitors Center. However, it fills up fast. We recommend reaching the park either early in the morning or later in the afternoon in order to secure a park. During peak season, cars are not allowed along the scenic drive. For trails like Canyon Overlook, parking can be found on the street by the start of the trail.
Despite the pandemic and construction work, we loved our visit to Zion National Park. We would recommend it to anyone looking for a unique adventure in the beautiful state of Utah! Thanks for reading and enjoy.