Feeling so refreshed after unplugging and exploring Zion this weekend! When it comes to visiting a national park during peak season, there is a lot you need to know and be prepared for. Here’s where I suggest you stay and eat and also a couple of our favorite hikes and some pro tips!
WHERE TO STAY:
I won’t recommend anywhere else but Under Canvas Zion. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. We paid about $200 a night and yes, for a glorified tent it seems like a lot but I promise you it was worth every penny. It truly made our trip!
The campsite consists of several canvas tents truly off the beaten path (about 20-30 minutes from the entrance to the park). Amenities included fresh towels for showering, flush toilets (shared, but I believe the upgraded tents have bathrooms inside), games and daily activities, free coffee and filtered water, free s’mores by the fire each night, and the list goes on. It’s truly a life changing experience!
WHERE TO EAT:
*Disclaimer: These food reviews may be positively skewed due to excessive hunger after long hikes.
Oscar’s– Massive portions of Mexican food, but the menu really has it all (burgers, salads, pizza, you name it). We came here running off after hiking Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, and Emerald Grotto so we were beyond happy to see the giant plates and endless chips and salsa. They have a large 2 hour parking lot for customers only so parking isn’t an issue. I got the Chili Verde Tamales and they were phenomenal.
Embers Restaurant at Under Canvas Zion– Even if you don’t stay here, you have to get breakfast or dinner here (they don’t serve lunch, but you can order a packed lunch the night before if you are staying there). I got the pulled pork tacos and I’m already craving them again. No joke top 20 things I’ve ever eaten. Again, I hiked 11 miles earlier in the day so I was VERY hungry, but I think they were actually that good. We brought our own bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner, no corkage free as they just hand you an opener! The ambiance is killer here as well, especially at sunset!
Zion Pizza and Noodle Company– This place was packed and for a good reason. Huge variety of different kinds of pizza and pasta and pitchers of beer. We got the combo man and the salad special of the day. XL sides of ranch are a win in my book, even if they cost $2.
River Rock Roasting Company– Coffee with a view is an understatement. I’m not a coffee snob, but you could definitely taste the quality in their coffee. I also got some type of green chili & corn quiche that was phenomenal!
Other places that were recommended to me that I couldn’t make it to:
Deep Creek Coffee Company for coffee and healthy food
WHAT TO DO:
I found this website to be the most helpful when it comes to deciding which hikes you want to do. Our personal opinion was that having one day in the park was plenty. It has almost a Disneyland feel with the shuttles, the lines and the tourists. The other days were spent doing some off the beaten path hikes, walks and relaxing at the campsite.
In Zion National Park:
Hike Angel’s Landing- This is a pretty much vertical hike, but it’s not as painful as people make it out to be. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the top (we didn’t do the chain part-I’m scared of heights and would have died) and less than an hour and a half total. The best view in my opinion was after the first set of switch backs on the front side of the hill.
Hike the Narrows- This hike is actually pretty difficult. I found it to be harder than Angel’s Landing, as I am pretty fit cardiovascular wise but clumsy AF. You spend a lot of time looking down avoid stepping on rocks and slipping and forget to look up and enjoy the scenery! After hiking into the Narrows for about 1 mile, you have seen everything you need and I personally don’t see how people can do the full 28 miles round trip!!! It’s a really cool experience overall, but no need to spend longer than 2-3 hours here. Renting water shoes isn’t necessary for a 2-3 mile hike, but my bruised knees and myself would recommend renting a walking stick. Just bring a change of shoes and clothes for afterwards! The trail to the Narrows, Riverside Walk, is also amazingly beautiful.
Outside Zion National Park:
Lava Point– A 25 minute drive from Under Canvas, this lookout point is really spectacular. You can see all of Zion National Park from here (to the right of the photo) and although it’s a quick 200 foot “hike” from your car, your friends will all wonder about what kind of trek it took you to get up there 😉
We drove around this area and hiked some random trails that were beautiful and so peaceful (aka no people and way less crowds than the actual park).
My friend also went horseback riding at Jacob’s Ranch and highly recommended doing that as well! Unfortunately we didn’t have time to do this.
If you are looking for a long less crowded hike, Observation Point is an 8 mile round trip hike with wonderful views that looks over the park and Angel’s Landing.
We also hiked to the Emerald Pools and found it to be very underwhelming, although I’m sure it depends on the time of year for this one!
GET TO THE PARK RIGHT WHEN THE SHUTTLES START! Otherwise you will wait an hour + just to get in, excluding looking for parking and taking the shuttle to the trail head of your choice.
Wear layers! The trail heads and shuttles start in a canyon, so the mornings get very cold. Once the sun makes its way into the canyon and you get your body moving, it heats up real quick so make sure you have layers you can take off to cool you down.
Invest in some hiking boots and a backpack. I was very grateful for my boots during this trip, especially hiking through the soft sandy areas. I got mine from Amazon, they are so cute and under $60! Click here to buy them. Just make sure to get double layer socks for them like these so you don’t get blisters!!! This will ruin your trip. I have this backpack and it’s amazing as well!!
Bring plenty and food and snacks with you on your hikes, as the shuttles get full later in the afternoon so you will most likely be out of luck from breakfast at 6 am to lunch at 2 pm after your hikes! Zion Lodge inside the park has food, but it didn’t look very appetizing! The beer was good though 😉
Hydrate and don’t over exert yourself!! I pack these hydration tablets on every trip I go on to avoid dehydration. They don’t have nearly as much sugar as Gatorade and coconut water. They are great for hangovers and long flights too!
Also, Utah has weird alcohol laws so load up on some beer and wine before you drive in to be safe!
HAVE FUN!! xoxo