Free Entrance Into Magnificent Zion? Yes, Please.

I’ve traveled about and visited National Parks all over this great country, but I’ve yet to find a place that captures my spirit quite like Zion National Park. From the breathtaking scenery as you drive into the charming town of Springdale to the magnificent views at the summit of Observation Point, nearly every sight is stunning throughout all four seasons. You can safely bet I’ll try to get anyone within earshot to take advantage of the National Park Service Free Days this year and visit this Southwest jewel or any other National Park close to you, for that matter.

 

I first visited Zion when I moved from Iowa to St. George, UT twenty years ago, and I still have yet to hit every trail in the park, such as canyoneering through The Subway and Mystery Canyon or backpacking overnight on the West Rim Trail. My first experience was in the Zion Canyon area, where I would snap photo after grainy photo on ancient 35mm or disposable cameras, hundreds of photos tucked neatly into boxes in my bedroom closet.

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Me and Zion, ages ago

The beauty of Zion is that it’s truly a park for everyone of all ages and shapes and sizes. I started my son on the Emerald Pools trails when he was four years old and sporting his CatDog trucker cap and kid fanny pack, and now I take my daughter along with me. Whether we wander down the easy, paved Pa’rus Trail and the Riverside Walk to the canyons of the Narrows or test her limits and hit the Upper Emerald Pool and Kayenta Trails, there is always something for the little ones to do. Plus, from the spring through the fall there is a shuttle system that takes you throughout the Zion Canyon. No trying to find parking spaces at each trailhead. Word to the wise: arrive early to find a parking space near the Visitor’s Center. This is one busy park.

For those more conditioned (and not afraid of heights), the views from Angel’s Landing and Observation Point are spectacular. Pack snacks and fill your water bottles at the free water filling stations in the park, then hit the canyons. Be sure to take a picture of the switchback system named Walter’s Wiggles as you make your way up to Angel’s Landing.

I could go on for hours about the activities available within the park. Biking, climbing, backpacking, canyoneering, river trips, wilderness hikes down the Narrows (which is phenomenal), Ranger-led activities for kids and adults, the list goes on. Instead, I’ll keep this short and sweet and leave you with some my pictures through different seasons in Zion.

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Go grab your gear, stuff it into your backpack, and get outside! While you’re at it, check out Cotopaxi, an outdoor company doing good for people and our environment

 

 

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