Exploring Zion National Park in only ONE Morning

Want to see Zion National Park but don't have a full weekend to do so? Well follow this guide to hit some highlights of the park!

Exploring Zion National Park in only ONE Morning
Photo by Jamie Hagan / Unsplash

I am not kidding when I say that we hit the highlights of Zion National Park in a single morning. A few weekends back, my good friend Trent visited me for an extended weekend trip. Having minimal time, we wanted to see Zion on Friday, Bryce Canyon on Saturday, and then explore Salt Lake City Saturday night and Sunday.

It was certainly ambitious. The plan didn't leave a huge amount of time to appreciate every part of the national parks, but it worked out better than I expected.  

On Thursday after he arrived, we drove down to Southern Utah and arrived at our Airbnb around 10 pm. It was pretty late so we went right to bed because we had an early morning ahead of us. The Airbnb was about 25 minutes away from Zion's visitor center. Our game plan for the next day was simple: hit Angel's Landing early before the crowds, then figure out the rest along the way.

Getting to the Visitor Center

The journey started at 5:30am Friday morning when my alarm went off. We got up, gathered our stuff, and hit the road before 6am. My vehicle pulled into the visitor center at 6:15am as the light was beginning to illuminate the stunning landscape around us. We gathered our backpacks, filled our water bottles, used the restroom, and hopped onto the next shuttle from the visitor center.

We arrived at shuttle stop #6, The Grotto, around 7am and began the hike to Angel's Landing. I have already written an entire blog about hiking Angel's Landing that I would encourage you to check out for a more detailed description of the experience. In short, the hike was thrilling and really got the adrenaline pumping. The views of Zion Canyon were unlike anything I have ever seen before.

What to expect at Angel’s Landing - Zion’s most dangerous bucket list hike
My guide of hiking one of the most dangerous, yet thrilling hikes in the United States - Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park

We ended the hike around 11am and hopped back on the shuttle towards Zion Lodge. After hiking Angel's Landing we were pretty tired and wanted something simple and easy. Lower Emerald Pools was the perfect hike for that. It was about 1.2 miles round trip and had very little elevation gain.

An easy hike at Zion National Park - Lower Emerald Pools
Want to explore Zion but not sure you can take on Angel’s Landing or The Narrows? Well the Emerald Pools are great easy hikes for anyone!

Following that short hike, we got back to Zion Lodge just before noon and checked out the gift shop for a short moment. We were hoping to grab a beer but they weren't serving any yet! So, we grabbed the shuttle again back to the visitor center, arriving around 12:15pm. We explored a bit of the visitor center before heading back to my car and leaving the park and finding somewhere to grab lunch. I do have to say, the scenic drive from the visitor center to the west exit out of Zion is unbelievable as well. I am glad our journey took us this way.

As you can see, we explored a good portion of Zion in just one single morning. I foresee myself going back someday to see more. I definitely want to hike the Narrows, but this short experience was a perfect taste of this incredible national park.

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Until next time!