Fall and Winter can be exciting times to visit Zion National Park. Colorful pilgrimage of leaves and cooler temperatures are inviting as is the fewer hikers and visitors. It can become your little piece of paradise. As you travel through Page, AZ into Kane County, Utah, you will discover some of the hidden treasures of Southern Utah. Legend has it that Montezuma's Treasure is still buried in one of three lakes near the southern Utah town of Kanab. It may actually be that the “true” treasures are gems of nature that surround this southern Utah community. Kanab is the Gateway to the Canyons of the Escalante, Bryce and Zion National Parks.
Zion offers many contrasts with stone cliffs 3000-feet high along the Virgin River and within the canyon is “Weeping Rock”, where water flows horizontally until it falls from the cliff’s edge. Zion is full of splendor and jagged cliffs full of white and red colored rocks. The park is known for its incredible canyons, including The Narrows, which attract visitors from around the world. Here the hiking possibilities are endless.
Designated as a National Park in 1919, Zion is Utah's oldest park. Most park facilities are located on the east side in the Zion Canyon area. It is located off scenic Utah Route 9, an enjoyable two-hour drive from Page, AZ. Winding roads and a mile long tunnel are part of the adventure in getting there. Be aware that if you are traveling by RV, bus, pulling trailers and dual wheeled trucks you will require an escort to travel through the Zion-Mt, Carmel Tunnel. Once in the park, private vehicles are not allowed to drive up the canyon into Zion Canyon but there are convenient shuttle bus loops through the canyon, stopping at all the popular attractions.
It is truly a photographer’s paradise where you can take great photos from almost everywhere. The Watchman Trail is an easy hike with opportunities for reaching out to touch nature. The Riverside walk is where you hike the Narrows, if you want to go further up to the Narrows you have to wade through the river in spots. Riverside Walk starts at the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop. Another favorite stop is The Emerald Pools, which offer hikes to the lower, middle and upper pools. Depending on the season and amount of water, there can be some stunning waterfalls.
If a little more of a challenge is what you are looking for, you may want to contact one of the many canyon tour guides. Many canyons are narrow and may require both climbing and rappelling such as Zion Narrows, Mystery Canyon and the Subway. Many times during the year you may encounter slippery rocks and strong currents where you quickly go from ankle-deep to waist-deep water.
Just outside the main entrance is the community of Springdale, which serves as the gateway to Zion National Park. Quietly huddled in the shadow of the mountains, it has one of the most picturesque settings that can be enjoyed from the patio of restaurants, balconies of many hotels, campgrounds and RV parks. It offers not only some of the friendliest people but a great find for galleries and local artists, photographers, and craftsmen. There is a vast assortment of cultural activities, live theater, art galleries, photo workshops, and much more.
Zion will certainly add an important chapter in your catalogue of memories. It is a place of serenity, calmness and beauty that will bring you back time and time again. After all, it offers a full four seasons of color. With nearly three million visitors per year, Zion is Utah's most visited park. For more information visit www.outwestpublishing.com and view Northern Arizona & Beyond magazine online.
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Utah tourism & sightseeing