As of now, Zion is one of my top three favorite parks. It has great views and amazing hikes. I also love that it is easy to navigate. There is a ton of signage and a free shuttle to cut down on traffic. Note: during much of the year the Zion Canyon Shuttle is the only way to access the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. In the two days I had, I was able to drive through the entire park and take some incredible hikes, though I would definitely suggest speeding more here time if you can.
I went during the busiest time of the year (June) so I did not even attempt to get a campsite in the park. While there are some non-reservable sites, I hadn't yet learned the trick for getting these spots so I found a tent site at a "resort" five miles from the East Entrance. There are a number of private camping and RV parks within minutes of the park, as well as hotels if you'd like a little more comfort. If you stay at one of these spots in Springdale, you can catch the free Springdale Shuttle and be in Zion in fifteen minutes or less.
Hikes I Hiked
Angels Landing - 4.4 miles - To begin this peak got its name when it was commented that it was so high that only an angel could land on top of it. Well, call me an angel cause I made it to the top! The hike begins at The Grotto shuttle stop and for the first half mile it is easy to think that the accent will be fairly simple. Do not be deceived, the 21 switchbacks, AKA ''Walters Wiggles" go one forever and only get steeper. This was the worst part of the hike. Once the switchbacks are over, the fun begins. With only about a half mile left, you will navigate your way across a steep, narrow, exposed ridge. (If you have vertigo or are scared of heights this is where you should end your hike.) With only about 2 feet of clearance on either side of you, "watch your step" is an understatement. But fear not, there is a chain to hold onto at the trickiest and most narrow spots. Wile the chain is not always needed physically, it is a great mental tool to keep you from freaking out. Also the chain is great for holding onto when the wind picks up. It gets very windy and there is no protection, as in 1.000 feet down people can see your silhouette as you make your way to the peak, kind of no protection. Once you have made it to the top of Angels Landing hang out for a bit, have a snack and drink some water. (WARNING: Keep a close eye on your snack as chipmunks are king and will steal food right out of your hand.) The hike back down goes twice as fast as the hike up and if it wasn't for the switchbacks I would have turned right around and done it again.
The Narrows - 5.1 miles - Before setting out, check in with a ranger to get a good understanding of the conditions. This hike is a river walk and is not always passable, and even when it is, it is not easy. When I went in the summer, the water temperature was still quite cold, and the deepest points reached my waist (I'm 5'6"). I suggest, along with water and snacks, you bring spare shoes or sandals , to change into at the end, and a walking stick. The trail is beautiful and full of mystery, with a new challenge at every bend. A basic knowledge of rivers is helpful for finding the easiest and shallowest point to cross. Other good tools for not accidentally stepping into a deep pocket: your walking stick, watching the people in front of you, or attaching yourself to a tour group. It is important to know your limits when taking this hike. There is no way out except back the way you came and fatigue can prove very dangerous when mixed with slick rocks and strong currents.
Canyon Overlook Trail - 1 mile - This hike is a fairly simple out an back. It begins with a steep climb up and leads to uneven terrain with long drop-offs. The trail is mostly fenced and ends views of the Zion and Pine Creek Canyons. The trailhead is located on the east side of the tunnel on the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and the parking lot is small and busy so slow down and use caution.
Sites I Saw
Kolob Reservoir - Technically the reservoir is not part of the park, but it's a cool spot if you're camping at Lava Point or like to fish. Also I'm fairly certain the sunrise/sunset would be amazing.
Lava Point Overlook - A nice quiet spot away from the sometimes crowded park. It's a bit of a drive up to this point but there are campsites available and uninterrupted views of some Zion's main features.
Zion Human History Museum - Here you can find permanent exhibits on the history of Zion, ranger programs, and air-conditioning. Outside are some of the best views of The Sentinel, Meridian Tower, and Altar of Sacrifice.
Zion - Mount Carmel Highway - Take this road out of the park and onto Bryce Canyon. Along the way you will rise out of the canyon and see: a man made tunnel, The Great Arch, and the Checkerboard Mesa.