48 Hours in Zion National Park

Jun 7, 2019 | Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments


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Ideally, every visitor to Zion National Park would have days to explore. Even a week of daily visits to the park wouldn’t be enough time to cover every trail and overlook.

But if you only have a couple of days to explore, that doesn’t mean that Zion isn’t worth the trip. You’ll just need to do a bit of planning and decide which highlights you’d like to see and which you can save for next time.

If you’re wondering what to do with 2 days in Zion, keep reading for a sample itinerary that will help you take in the highlights, even on a short timeline.

Day 1

You’re going to want to rise early to get in line for the shuttle. Whether you’re planning to hike a popular trail or not, during the summer months the afternoons see the park getting quite crowded. If you’re visiting in the winter or early spring, you’ll still want to rise early to take in as much of the park as you can before dark!

Before you get on the shuttle though, start with a quick stop at the Visitor’s Center. You’ll want to check for trail closures and any other alerts in the park.

If you’re visiting during the summer months, go ahead and hop on the Zion Canyon shuttle. Skip the first shuttle stop, at the Zion Human History Museum, for now.

This is where you have a couple of options. If you’re an experienced hiker, Angel’s Landing is a must-see. But this strenuous hike includes a steep climb and gut-wrenching drop-offs. Don’t take this on if you aren’t certain of your hiking abilities. But if you are, you’ll want to head there first thing in the morning to avoid some of the crowds. Plan for the trail to take 5 or more hours to complete, depending on crowds and your own hiking speed.

If you aren’t headed to Angel’s Landing, your next stop is instead Zion Lodge. Don’t go in the Lodge quite yet though; you’ll do that later on. Instead, head for the Emerald Pools trailhead. The earlier you get there, the fewer crowds you’ll have to fight.

You can choose from two different lengths for this hike. If you aren’t an avid hiker, you can simply walk to the Lower Emerald Pools, an easy, 1.5-mile loop.

But if you’re able to, the longer, 3.5-mile moderate hike to the Upper Emerald Pool is well worth it.

When you’re done at the Emerald Pool, hop back on the shuttle and ride it to the next stop. Here you’ll find the trailhead to get to Angel’s Landing, Kayenta Trail, and more. Take some time to snap photos of these overlooks, and to maybe get inspired to plan a trip back to hike one of these famous trails.

Your last shuttle stop of the day will be at Temple of Sinawava. Take a stroll down the 1-mile paved Riverside Walk. Snaps photos, enjoy the views, and maybe dip your feet into the cool water. Take your time here; this is one of the most treasured views in the park.

If you chose to hike to Angel’s Landing, you may still be able to squeeze in these last two stops, depending on how long you spent on the trail. Don’t fret too much if you miss them though; that’s the trade-off for enjoying the park’s best-known view!

Finish off your day with a grill-out back at your vacation rental, or head into Springdale to dine at one of the many delicious restaurants. Then, get a good night’s sleep to prepare you for your second day of fun!

Day 2

Don’t let your sore feet and a comfortable bed tempt you to oversleep. You only have one more day to enjoy all that Zion has to offer!

You won’t be catching the shuttle right away today. Instead, take Route 9 east, towards the famous Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. Enjoy a ride through the 1.1-mile tunnel, then park in the lot just to the east of the tunnel, at the Canyon Overlook Trailhead.

This 1-mile round trip hike is one of the only ones in the Upper East Canyon. While it may be short, it offers breathtaking views and even a glimpse at the Pine Creek slot canyon far below.

It won’t take you much longer than an hour to hike this easy trail. When you’re done, head back to the shuttle stop and get in line. If its a particularly busy day, parking at the shuttle might be tough. But if you’re staying at Watchman Villas, you can park there and simply walk to the shuttle line!

Before you hop on the shuttle, head inside the Visitor Center and check out the exhibits today. You can also stop at the second stop and take a quick tour of the Zion Human History Museum.

Now it’s time for some sightseeing. Take the next stop, at Canyon Junction, your first overlook. Hop off the shuttle and take in the 360-degree views. Stay awhile and take some photos; the shuttles arrive every 7 to 10 minutes, so you can enjoy your views without stressing about falling behind schedule.

The next shuttle stop is another overlook. Court of Patriarchs is a Kodak-moment stop. There’s also a trailhead here for the Sandbench Loop, though you’ll want to forgo this hike on this trip.

Hop off at the Zion Lodge again. Spend some time wandering the grounds, then enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the two restaurants on-site. The first is Red Rock Grill, which offers fine dining and a breathtaking view. For a more casual experience, opt for the Castle Dome Cafe instead.

If the sun is still up when you’re finished, head back to your villa to rest or clean up. Then, head back to the park for your final activity; stargazing.

Zion National Park is known for its dark skies. Lean back, look up, and enjoy taking in more stars than you’ve likely ever seen with your naked eye.

Tips for a Quick Trip to Zion

It’s still possible to enjoy the beauty of Zion on a short trip, even if you only have a couple of days. Whether you choose to spend your time on a strenuous hike or enjoying different overlooks and easy trails, you’ll go home with memories that you won’t soon forget.

One of the best ways to take advantage of a short trip to the park is to stay as close to it as possible. The last thing you want to do is spend a ton of time commuting to and from the park entrances each day. At Watchman Villas, you can roll right out of bed and into the shuttle line each day to help you make the most of your time!

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