Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The First Timer's Visit to Utah's 5 National Parks, Day 2 Finding the MAGIC in Zion National Park

Day 2  Finding the Magic in Zion National Park

Day 2 Overview
Early Hike or Sleep In -whichever is most magical for you. 
Later Breakfast at Oscars
Hike The Narrows 
(And/Or choose multiple other hikes to your liking)
Dinner at Bit and Spur (make reservation when you know your arrival time)

HIKE 1: Sunrise Hike - Canyon Overlook Trail (No shuttle required) We were still on East Coast time and woke up very early so we headed out for a sunrise photo-op with head lamps. (Bless my husband's heart.) Just after exiting the tunnel on Route 9, you’ll see the trailhead on the left across from a parking area on the right for the Canyon Overlook Trail. There is additional parking on the left further along the road and street parking that fills up as it gets more crowded. An easy 1-mile hike ends with a view of Zion Canyon. (Look to the left of the official lookout point for another hidden vantage point.)

Orion Dancing Over Zion
Canyon Overlook Trail*
First attempt at photographing stars.

Most of the locations on this trip are also International Dark Sky Parks: Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Capitol Reef NP, Dead Horse Point State Park, Goblin Valley State Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, and Zion NP.  My trip also coincided with a full moon so I had to time photography before the moon came up. 
Zion Canyon at Sunrise
Canyon Overlook Trail*

HIKE 2: After a late breakfast, we chose to hike The Narrows via Riverside Walk next.  The shuttle ride to The Narrows is 30 min from the park entrance. Exit the shuttle at the Temple of Sinawava stop.   (This hike will likely take up the rest of your day unless you cut it short.) As our B&B host explained, it really is better to start after the mob at the popular spots.  We found the mob returning as we were hiking up river.  On our return there were times when we had sections of The Narrows completely to ourselves.  This is definitely the better option in October because it also warmed up a bit by this time!

Riverside Walk
an easy, flat, scenic paved walk.

This hike begins with the Riverside Walk and then takes you wading up the Virgin River between canyon walls. Most people, like us, turned around at some point.and made their way back the way they came. This way you control your time and distance.  Or you can continue on for a full RT hike of 9..4 miles and take up to 8 hrs. We hiked to Floating Rock when the water reached our waists, that was our turn around point.

*You can also hike The Narrows from the top down but that requires a permit.

The Narrows in Zion

  • The difficulty hiking The Narrows is affected by the cubic feet per second of discharge.  The higher the water level the more difficult the hike. When we hiked it was in the 50s cfs.  Check that info here. Lower than 70 cfs is doable with potential water levels to your waist. Over 70 cfs is more difficult with potential water levels to your chest. The Narrows is closed for flows of 150 cfs and above. 
  • You should not hike The Narrows if there is a chance of a flash flood, that forecast is here.
  • Carry any electronics in a water safe container.
  • Yes you do need a slip proof, closed toe shoe for this hike along with a rubber tipped hiking pole.
  • Check with rangers about the possibility of flash floods as this can affect your plans.

Alone!  The advantage of outsmarting the mob. 

Alternatives or HIKE 3. If you didn't do the full Narrows hike you have time for something else. Choose an afternoon hike.  We spent the rest of our day in The Narrows but this was my alternative option: 

Return to the shuttle for a 15 minute ride to Emerald Pools Trail Stop 5/Zion Lodge on the shuttle.  From the Zion Lodge Shuttle Stop, walk southeast past the lodge to the bridge crossing over the Virgin River to the trailhead. 

There are 3 pools: 
Lower Pool
Rating: Easy
Hiking Time: 1 hour
Distance: 1.2 miles, round-trip
Elevation Change: 70 feet

Middle Pool
Rating: Moderate
Hiking Time: 1.5 hours
Distance: 1.7 miles, round-trip
Elevation Change: 150 feet

Upper Pool and Falls
Rating: Moderate
Hiking Time: 2 hours
Distance: 2.2 miles, round-trip
Elevation Change: 200 feet

Dinner Break
King's Landing Bistro TA #3 5p-9p
*Oscar's Cafe TA #2 7a-9p (Awesome breakfasts)
Deep Creek Coffee TA #4 Br&Lu
Spotted Dog TA #5 5a-9p
MeMe's Cafe TA #7 8a-10p (It was OK. Slow service.)
*Bit and Spur (Very good dinners, excellent and prompt service.)

The Classic Sunset is at Canyon Junction Bridge. Zion – Mount Carmel Hwy., Hurricane. You'll face south, and shoot down the Virgin River to The Watchman focal point. Sunset at Canyon Junction Bridge is popular for photographers, so get there early to find your perfect vantage point.

OR if you (like me) hate a bunch of photographers stressing about their vantage point and getting the perfect shot and ruining yours, go somewhere else for sunset. Photographers can be rude that way. The east side of Zion is stunning, I can't imagine not getting great images there from any number of locations.

*I packed light.  My Canon 24-105L lens stopped communicating with my Canon 5D Mark IV so most of 
my photos were taken with a Sony Point and Shoot.  I was soooo disappointed. But lesson learned. Never pack light! 
Go to Zion National Park 3rd day

Click any link to go directly to that day:

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