Zion National Park in Utah is my favorite of the national parks in the USA. This is a bold statement when we consider Yosemite, Yellowstone, Badlands and hundreds more. The contrasting look Zion has is the most astounding in my experience.
If you’re planning a trip to Zion, check out the video below. I tried to make it interesting for those planning their trip.
Zion National Park Camping
Finding official camping in Zion National Park is expensive and there is a very low inventory with a lot of demand. Making a reservation through the Federal Government’s reservation website is also a painfully slow process.
It drops queries all the time and I couldn’t find a single opening this year. Also, I think it’s kind of a bad deal to spend $30 to go camping. The good news is that this doesn’t matter.
It’s 100% legal to camp on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The government calls it dispersed camping and you can learn about the specifics of the regulation here. The area around Zion in Utah is full of BLM land.
When you’re getting close to the park. You can pull off the main road and drive down a road with less traffic. From that road, you can pull off to a dirt road. Many of these dirt roads have signs like the one pictured to the right. If you find these, you’re in good shape and can camp there legally.
We did our backcountry camping about 15 minutes outside of Zion for free. It was quiet, we heard coyotes and owls and in the morning we drove into the park and were able to go to the Narrows and Angel’s Landing.
That makes for a really good trip.
Zion National Park Images
Zion National Park Hikes
I’ve only done two hikes at Zion National Park, but they were both two of the best hikes of my life. Here’s my breakdown of both.
To do the Narrows you need to go to the last stop on the shuttle. To get to Narrows you take the Riverwalk, which is a lovely walk alongside the river. Narrows is a river hike so be prepared as you will get your feet wet. You can rent shoes at the park which are specifically for trekking through water, get your own sneakers wet, or do what we did and go barefoot! It’s beautiful and it’s alot of fun. We hiked deep into the canyon, just beyond the first fork in the river.
If you watch the video above, we mention the specifics here.
When hiking to Angel’s Landing you’ll experience a very fast change in elevation. The reports say it’s a 1,488-foot (454 m) climb. It’s a very well trodden path so there is little to no chance of getting lost or going the wrong way. Even though there are some REALLY scary spots because of how tall the cliffs are, there are no places where you need to be an expert climber.
There are chains on the last .5 miles, along all the portions that are more dangerous, but I don’t think I ever actually needed them. You can easily walk the whole thing without using the chains.
That said, it is scary, especially if you’re afraid of heights. V was a bit freaked out up at the top of the landing, being that we were standing on a ginormous rock nearly 1,500 feet high and overlooking the entire valley.
Zion National Park Shuttle
The shuttle is actually really great. There is an audio recording telling the history of the park so you get to learn while riding. The shuttles run so frequently that you never wait more than 10 minutes to get on one. It’s an excellent system and it takes away all the hard parts of driving your own car around and parking. Honestly, I would take the shuttle over driving from place to place. The shuttles are actually the only mode of transport to get to each trail during high season, so this makes things really easy.