Zion National Park in a Day

If you have just one day to kill in Zion National Park, what would you do?


We began our day with three short hikes:

1) Riverside Walk – shuttle stop: Temple of Sinawava

Round trip: 2.2 miles/3.5 kilometers

Elevation change: 57 feet/17 meters

This wheel chair accessible trail is mostly shaded. It follows the Virgin River along the bottom of the Zion Canyon, leading to the Narrows.

Here, you will find rock squirrels

Rock climbers


and the lush and unique “hanging gardens” for which Zion is famous.

Other wild plants dotted the path.

Even watercress in the wetland areas, adjacent to the river.


2) Weeping Rock Trail – shuttle stop: Weeping Rock

Round trip: 0.4 miles/0.6 kilometers

Elevation change: 98 feet/30 meters

This short but steep paved trail ends at a rock alcove with dripping springs.


What makes Weeping Rock weep?


Mud deposited in lowland streams millions of years ago was covered with wind blown sand. Centuries of pressure squeezed the mud into thin shale layers. Water passes easily through sandstone but not through shale. Rain and snow falling on the plateau above soaks into the sandstone. When it reaches the shale it moves sideways to emerge from the cliff face as a spring.

3) Lower Emerald Pools Trail – Starts from shuttle stop: Zion Lodge

Round trip: 1.2 miles/1.9 kilometers

Elevation change: 69 feet/21 meters

Three sets of pools create a unique oasis in this desert environment and provide year-round habitat for an amazing variety of life forms. One of those, aquatic green algae, led early visitors to dub these the “Emerald Pools.”

Although the lower pool was small and rather unimpressive, the trail was mostly shaded with spectacular rock formations and a misty waterfall.

We made an attempt to hike Angels Landing.

But the scorching mid-afternoon sun and the dry heat made us falter.


So we retreated to the shady lawns of the Zion Lodge and rewarded ourselves with a generous serving of soft-serve ice cream.

After the break, we hopped on the shuttle bus to the Court of the Patriarchs – a trio of sandstone cliffs named after the biblical figures Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.


We decided to have dinner in the park, so that we could stay late and watch the sunset. The portion was small, but the food was well seasoned – both the pork chop and the salad came with a flavorful prickly pears sauce.

We were told that the best place to see sunset is on the Pa’rus trail

For which we took the shuttle to Canyon Junction and walked the 3.5 miles/5.6 kilometers trail out the entrance.


25 thoughts on “Zion National Park in a Day

  1. Beautiful place, isn’t it? Too many Tauck tourers in the lodge/restaurant, I thought. Too many folks on some of the easiest trails. But, others were (blissfully) almost deserted when we were there. No way I could ever do some of them, though … terrified of heights!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So beautiful! Were the hikes strenuous? I’m kind of a sissy. Mystic Trail on Juan De Fuca was the my first “real hike.” Some areas had no ledge and that freaks me out. It was only in 2 areas and it wasn’t that bad. I really wish I had pet chipmunks and squirrels. I’d be happy with a tree outside my window that was a squirrel home. No trees outside my windows 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you jebusandrea! The hikes we took were short easy hikes, with the exception of Angels Landing, which we could not complete because it was hot and exposed. Come to think of it, we should have done it first thing in the morning. I have never done the Mystic Trail on Juan de Fuca. It must be beautiful! I will look it up. You must be living in a big city with no trees outside your window. Oh well, I am sure there are other perks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We recently had just a few hours in the park to kill before continuing on our cross-country road trip. We ended up doing the Emerald Pools trail, which is beautiful, but I wish we had more time to spend in the park! Beautiful pictures; great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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