Location: Zion National Park
We arrived at Zion National Park at about 8:30pm after a looong day of airline travel and car driving. We got there a half an hour before the only restaurant available in the park closed. So, Allison and I headed up to grab a table (before it closed) while Julie got us checked into the cabin we had rented for two of the three nights.
I had done a lot of research and blog reading about hiking in Zion and had a few picked out for Sunday, which would be our first full day in the park. The first one that I wanted to do was not an “official” Zion NP hike, but one I found at this web site and also this site.
One of the reasons I picked the hike at Separation Canyon was because it was not well known and it would get us away from the crowds that are guaranteed to be at the other better known hikes. I loaded several of the waypoints from the hike into my gps so we’d have a better chance of finding this unmarked trail.
The start of the trail was just west of the Checkerboard Mesa (pictured below).
We were able to find the first two or three waypoints I had stored in my gps, which followed a wash just off the main park road. Unfortunately, after that we could not figure out how to get out of the wash and make our way up onto the slick rock and up through the canyon. We hiked for about 30 minutes with no luck, we couldn’t find a good (safe) way out of the wash.
It was soon after this that we decided to abandon our first planned hike at Zion. All my planning and gps tracks were for not, we could not find our way up into Separation Canyon. Maybe not the best way to start our time at Zion, but at least now Julie and Allison has something to tease me about!!
The GPS track of our shortened first hike at Zion.
So, next up was another hike on the east side of the park, but this one was a know and well marked Zion hike. The Canyon Overlooks Hike was a relatively short 1 mile round trip, but encountered some elevation gain and interesting vistas.
One short section of the hike was on an elevated boardwalk next to a deep canyon. Allison was questioning the engineering of the platform and hoping that it was built well enough to handle the load!
We hung around the overlook for about a half an hour, just taking in the view and trying to get some pictures that actually captured the beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, no pictures even come close to how amazing this place looks.
After our day of hiking (one good one and one not so good), we ventured into the town just south of Zion for dinner Springdale is a somewhat typical tourist town outside of a national park, with the chain hotels, etc. But it also has a nice selection of restaurants, art studios and stores. We decided upon the Bit and Spur Saloon for dinner which was about a mile south of the parks entrance. We sat outside on their porch, right next to their gardens and humming bird feeders. All through our dinner humming birds would fly in, drink some from the feeder and then race off.
Some of us sampled their home made sangria and also their tasty margaritas. The food and drink were awesome and was just what we needed after a long, tiring day.
Actually, we liked this place so much, that we returned on Monday evening for another meal We really wanted to try some other place in town, but we were drawn back to this place since we had such a great experience the night before. So much for trying different places.
That evening, after we returned back to the park, we decided to do one more hike for the day. The Emerald Pools trail starts right across the street from the Zion Lodge. There are several sections to this trail leading up from the Virgin River into one of the side canyons.
This is one of the pools looking back towards the Zion Lodge
We were hoping for a nice quiet hike to end our day. But instead found the trail to be packed with people. In some places we had to wait for groups to pass as we made our way up the trail. It really wasn’t one of our favorite hikes.
It’s amazing that I got this picture below, of the upper pool, without anyone in the frame. There must have been 50 – 75 people at this point in the trail and many of them yelling and being loud. We didn’t stay long!
Here is our GPS track from this hike.