229 miles. Believe it or not, that’s smaller than some European countries. It’s also the approximate size of Zion National Park.
What makes Zion so special? Quite frankly, there’s no place else like it on earth. 229 square miles of some of the most diverse and unique natural scenery you’re ever likely to find. It’s a place of dramatic changes. It’s a place of pristine majesty. It’s a place that existed long before written history.
And for many visitors, it’s easily at the top of their bucket list. But it’s 229 square miles. You can’t even hope to take in all Zion has to offer in a year—much less a vacation. But if you need help where to begin, here are five must-see places if you’re planning a trip to Zion National Park.
1. Angel’s Landing
Angel’s Landing has become virtually synonymous with Zion National Park, and with good reason. It can be as strenuous as it is exhilarating, where a steep two-mile hike leads you to one of the most cherished and sought after views of the entire Zion Canyon some 1,500 feet above altitude; a view that has remained as pristine and untouched for over 270 million years.
2. Emerald Pools
Whether you’re a novice or veteran hiker, you’ll find nothing short of awe-taking beauty on the trail to the Emerald Pools. While there are only two trails leading to this Zion staple, the pools themselves consist of upper, lower, and middle sections, each with its own unique scenery and each with its own degree of ease. Utah isn’t all desert; and the exquisite waterfalls at Emerald Pools can seem like the rule, not the exception.
3. Weeping Rock
There are natural phenomena and then there are uncommon natural phenomena. And Weeping Rock is a perfect example of the latter. While only a relatively easy hike of less than half a mile, behind the lush hanging moss and ferns, lays one of the most intriguing sites you’ll see in Zion National Park; a cliff that literally seems to “weep” a continual flow of water, transforming an ordinary sandstone crag into a fertile wonderland of greenery.
4. The Narrows
Zion National Park can certainly never be accused of false advertising! It may be the narrowest part of Zion Canyon, but the Narrows encompasses a six-mile round trip trek around and through the Virgin River where water lovers can take a break from the Zion heat in a refreshing and exhilarating uphill wade.
5. The Mt. Carmel Tunnel
Why list a road tunnel as a must-see sight in Zion? It’s simple. The Mt. Carmel Tunnel isn’t just your ordinary tunnel. It’s part of the Mt. Carmel Scenic Drive, a ten-mile highway where natural sandstone bedding and cliffs meet one of the largest and most ambitious tunnel projects in American history. It’s a tribute to both innovation and the natural beauty of Zion National Park, but be forewarned; semi-trucks, vehicles over 13 feet tall, bicyclists, and pedestrians are prohibited from the tunnel.