Zion was a side trip for us before a conference that started on a Monday. We arrived at the Las Vegas airport on Friday evening so we would have the weekend to explore. The Narrows at Zion National Park was something we both wanted to experience. We did our research made a plan for a quick visit of 48 hours.
Friday night we drove 180 from Las Vegas airport to Springdale, Utah. Springdale is the gateway to the southern side of Zion National Park. There is one main street through town that leads to the park entrance. We stayed at the Driftwood Lodge. This placed us 2 miles from the park entrance. While the hotel appeared to be older, we selected this location because of the reviews and the free breakfast. We were very pleased as the room was modern (granite sink, new furniture) roomy and inviting. Parking was right outside our door.
We got up early on Saturday morning and headed off to the park. The park entrance fee was $25 and our first stop was at the visitor’s center. We noticed a beautiful campground right at the entrance along the river where we would like to return. After reviewing the park layout we noticed it was not as massive as some national parks can be. Our first stop was at the trailhead to walk up to the Emerald Pools. This was about a 3 mile round trip walk with an incline. The path was marked well and we passed a number of guest on our hike. Next, we took the shuttle bus up to the park lodge and enjoyed the views of the park. We saw a number of rock climbers scaling the massive rock faced mountains.
Early afternoon we drove back to town (short drive) and stopped at The Flying Monkey for fire oven pizza. We set outside and enjoyed relaxing with the beautiful mountains all around us. Afterwards, we walked over to a photography gallery and spoke with the local artist, Jason. We also hit a local coffee shop called Café Soleil and we enjoyed a cup of coffee and a muffin. We sat and took in the local artwork that was all over the shop.
Late afternoon we returned to the park and walked along the Virgin River for a few miles taking pictures. This was a paved trail that was wide and allowed for biking. We joined other photographers for the amazing sunset on the bridge at Canyon Junction over the Virgin River. From this point you can see The Watchman Mountain and Danny was able to take a lot of amazing pictures.
After sunset, we retrieved our hiking gear from ( target=”_blank”>Zion Adventures . The staff was very knowledgeable and had a lot of pointers to help us. They suggested the dry pants, the neoprene socks, canyonner boots and a walking stick. The boots were specifically designed for walking on rocky terrain. We learned this was going to be a slippery, rocky and unpredictable hike so we listened to their suggestions.
After gathering our gear, we ate at OSCARS, another local restaurant with good food and busy atmosphere. We returned to the hotel to get a good night rest before our hike the next day. Danny did go out late to get some night shots of the sky.
We got up very early, packed our dry bags with snacks, water, and cameras. We had purchased the FRIENDLY SWEDE 500D PVC tarp dry bags (2 for about $20) on Amazon prior to our trip. These worked fine for a quick day trip and kept everything very dry. We also packed the car because after our hike we would be heading back to Las Vegas. We wanted to get ahead of the tour groups and crowd so we left very early. After a filling breakfast at the lodge, we drove to the park and at the visitor center we parked and rode the bus to The Narrows starting point.
The Narrows at Zion refers to the location where the Virgin River has carved smooth, towering, parallel sandstone-walls into Zion Canyon. No road or dirt trail can get you there, you can get there one of two ways: 1) The shorter Bottom-Up route is a5 mile round trip that can be done in a day or 2) the Top-Down route that is a 16-mile through hike. Because we were limited on time, we did the Bottom-Up day hike.
At our drop off point we were able to make a last minute stop at the pavilion for water and a restroom break. We headed up the trail and the first part of the trail was paved. Once this ended, we walked into the Virgin River and started up stream. Slowly, the walls started to encroach on the river. As the walls narrowed , we knew we were in the location called Wall Street. Here, this 2 mile section of a slot canyon became a narrow 22 feet and towered above us at 600 feet. It was breathtaking!
The hike was amazing and in October the water was cold but not unbearable. The water depth varied from mid calf to chest high in some places but the majority of the time the water was around thigh high. The current was strong and the walk up river took effort. It was worth every step! The river twisted often and the dramatic light and sandstone colors made for some incredible pictures. We stopped often so Danny could get his camera out of his dry pack. Because we stopped so often and even rested on a rock and ate a snack, the trip took us about 6 hours. We were in no rush; it was such an amazing experience.
On the way back down, we did see many hikers dressed in a number of ways. I was interested in the people in shorts and water sandals and I wonder if they made it very far.
Once we arrived back to our car, we were starving. We headed back into town and ate at Zion Pizza & Noodle Company. They were very friendly and the food was great. Again, we had outside seating so we could take in the mountain views. Afterwards, we headed back onto the road and to Las Vegas.
We did not have time to do the Angel Falls trail but it is something we will add next time!ccccc
Driftwood Lodge: (>www.driftwoodlodge.net
Café Soleil: (>www.cafesoleilzionpark.com
Zion Adventures : (>www.zionadventures.com