The morning air was extremely cool and crisp as we left St. George and headed out east toward the highly recommended and anticipated Zion National Park.
We were very excited because so many people told us we HAD to experience this majestic place along our travels. Since southern Utah had already captured my attention with its incredible mountain ranges and desert landscape, I knew we’d be in for a great surprise as we approached the park.
The journey to Zion did not disappoint us.
Driving north on Interstate 15 toward Highway 9 was filled with beautiful red cliffs and canyons. It’s a drive you need to slow down on and enjoy because there’s so much to see and take in.
The vastness of all those mountains make you realize just how small and insignificant we can be in the grand scheme of things.
As we made our way through the towns of Hurricane, La Verkin, and Virgin, the landscape changed and the mountains became more subtle and spread out — but still present and inspiring. It was a very relaxing drive with great places to stop and admire the beauty all around us.
But the best was yet to come!
Reaching Springdale the excitement increased.
You will notice everything change dramatically as you make your way toward the town of Springdale, Utah.
The mountains begin to grow and command your attention in a new way and the canyons will hold your gaze like a prisoner trapped between glorious walls of color. The road draws you into something unreal and unexpected.
Springdale is the entrance into Zion National Park, and even though it can get extremely busy, this town has a lot to offer any visitor. There are coffee shops, breweries, art galleries, local restaurants, hiking trails, and plenty of places to shop or sleep. The atmosphere feels fun and enjoyable and requires more than a day trip to experience it all.
One word of advice … don’t drive up to the ZNP gates unless you get there at the crack of dawn.
The traffic was already backed up by 9 am and the ZNP parking lots were full. We had to turn around and find paid parking, which ended up being better when leaving. You can easily take the free shuttle into the park and it will save you a lot of stress.
Zion National Park
The shuttle will take you to the entrance and it will be hard to contain your excitement as you approach. It truly is a magical experience.
You can stop at the visitor center to shop and get some grub before jumping on the park shuttle, which is the only mode of transportation this time of year. They will take you to the most important points in ZNP and drop you off to explore.
However there are trails to walk if you’re feeling energetic and adventurous. Donetta and I did a mile “hike” where we got to enjoy the outdoors and see wildlife doing their thing. It was well worth it and I recommend it.
The scenery in Zion National Park is why you visit this place. It’s not easy to describe and photos won’t do it justice. It just has to be experienced in person.
You will be completely surrounded my mesmerizing views.
The gravity of what you see is breathtaking. The mountains, canyons, river, lush green areas, and wildlife make this place perfect. You’ll want to take hundreds of photos like Donetta - LOL - but I encourage you to put the phone or camera down and just take it all in.
Visiting Zion National Park is worth your time and investment.
Leaving ZNP was difficult.
We returned back to our truck via the shuttle but the adventure was not over.
Since we were heading to Bryce Canyon the following day, we were able to see things in a new way as we drove north on Highway 9 through the park to leave. If you thought being in the park was the only reward, you’d be wrong!
Driving through the mountains toward US-89 was awesome and just as special.
(And yes, we are getting more comfortable driving the mountain roads. Just not ready for Pikes Peak again).
I was sad to see the beauty fade in the rearview mirror and hated to leave this all behind. It was such a fantastic time and one we will never forget.
Donetta and I hope to return because one day is not enough for enjoying Zion National Park and the surrounding area. We also hope you get to experience it for yourself if you haven’t already.