Zion offers spectacular vistas carved by a river
ZION is the complete opposite of Bryce Canyon. While Bryce is red rocks and spires reaching up to blue skies, Zion is sheer cliff faces, vistas of greenery and trickling streams and rivers. In Bryce Canyon you hike down into the landscape. In Zion, you start on the canyon floor, climbing up and out along the many hikes.
Zion seems to be the most popular of the Utah national parks I visited. Once in the park, all the keen hikers poured on to buses (the only mode of transport in the park) to get to the stops within the park.
The Emerald Pools seemed to be the first big stop on the bus route. It is an easy walk with concrete paths for most of the way to the first waterfall, but after that it’s rock steps up to the first pool.
Then it’s lots of rock and sandy stretches up to the higher pool. There isn’t much shade on the walk up to the Upper Emerald Pools, so slap on sunscreen and a hat.
Once at the top, either double back to the bus stop or take the Kayenta Trail, which is about 1.6km long and takes you from the Lower Emerald Pool to The Grotto, a shaded oasis with restaurants, picnic tables and the Zion Lodge.
From here it’s back on the bus to get to the furthermost point in the park: The Temple of Sinawava and the Narrows.
The Narrows are perhaps the most iconic image of Zion National Park. It’s smooth, striated red rock canyons, natural springs and hanging gardens. The landscape has been carved by the Virgin River and is 25km long, up to 609m deep in parts, and funnelling down to sections six to nine metres wide.
STUNNING SPOT: The Virgin River that eroded most of the Zion canyons.