North America / See

[see] The Lesser Known One: Zion National Park

— 13 Nov 2013 —

Having had our fill of the Grand Canyon, we were headed to Zion.

Zion? I hear you say, while scratching your head. That’s okay, I had never heard of it either. You know, it’s the one next to Bryce Canyon. The other one that everyone has heard of. Well, *E said he really wanted to go there so hey, who was I to argue?

The Journey

Point A: Grand Canyon National Park
Point B: Zion National Park
Point C: Zion Pondesora Ranch Resort
Distance: 263 miles (425 km)

After passing out due to pure exhaustion the previous night, *E awoke to the sunlight streaming into his eyes and I to *E telling me to wake up. Gah, just when I had fallen asleep!

A quick breakfast and huddle, we decided to drive the length of the scenic drive stopping off to do 3 short hikes; Weeping Rock, Emerald Pools and the Canyon Overlook. All ranging from 30 mins to 2 hrs round-trip. That way we would get to see different parts of the Canyon and get off the beaten track.

We headed to the northern point of the scenic drive, Temple of Sinawava, a natural amphitheater. Here, you can also find the start of the Narrows hikes which requires proper wet weather clothing and equipment so be prepared.

Not wanting to deal with the crowd, we headed south towards Weeping Rock only to find a large group of children on their school field trip. This made us head for the mountains to our next stop at the Emerald Pools.

The Emerald Pools are a series of 3 pools (Lower, Middle and Upper) that are created by the water from Heaps Canyon. To get to the Upper Pool, you cross the Virgin River, under a waterfall (Lower Pools), up a series of poorly paved pathways (at the top is the Middle Pools), clamber over some big boulders till you get to the open amphitheater-like area. Here you can enjoy the tranquility (not many hikers make it this far due to the sudden change in elevation) sitting 150 ft below the rim and photograph the reflections of the cliff face on the still water (no waterfalls when we were there).

While *E was taking photos, I clambered over rocks near the edge over the other side, and after taking another gazillion photos of the same thing, we headed back to our next stop.

Weeping Rock is an overhanging arch, similar to that at the Lower Emerald Pool, which “rains” spring water that is slowly seeping out of the Navajo sandstone (beneath the Temple Cap Formation layer). The trail is super easy with a slight gradient at the start followed by a few stairs. Take your time to sit on the edge and let the water “rain” in front of you. I did just that and took in all the fall colours of the different tree species.

The Court of the Partiarchs are on the way to the Canyon Junction.

Our last hike for the day was the Canyon Overlook trail. It is a short but very rocky and windy trail wrapping around the edge of the canyon. I freaked *E out a couple of times by stepping too close to the edge and he was glad to reach the viewpoint where there was flat ground. It was here we met an elder couple who had just come from Death Valley and it didn’t take them long to convince us to do the same.

Sitting there with my feet nearly hanging over the cliff face and watching the cars going up/down that windy road, I remember I was super happy and content with what all that we had seen in under a week. It was one of those “you had to be there” moments again.

Sunset of the day.

Onwards to Death Valley we go!

In hindsight, everything from the log cabin to Frances at the Ponderosa Ranch,  feeling super happy and on top of the world at the Canyon Overlook to the beautiful scenic drive; made Zion my favourite national park on this trip. I’m glad *E suggested it. He was 2 for 2 at that stage.


Zion National Park
Open all year round. The Zion Canyon road is serviced by a free shuttle during the months of April to October and private vehicles at all other times.
Get there: Via State Route 9. The Zion Canyon Visitor Center is located near Springdale, the east entrance.
Park entrance fee is USD $25 per vehicle for 7 days.
Other trails to try (those we didn’t get to and comes highly recommended from randoms we met along the way): Kolob Arch (on Interstate 15 North), Zion Narrows Hike (an entry-level canyoneering experience and is actually hiking through Zion Canyon) and Observation Point (similar to the Canyon Overlook except approximately 2100 ft higher in elevation).


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