National Park trips were always a tradition in my family growing up. Most of our vacations involved doing something outdoors, especially in Utah since we had a lot of family there and it’s pretty close to home. Living in Arizona, we’re only a 5 hour drive from the Utah border, which is home to some of the most amazing National Parks. Zion is one of those must-see parks with so much to do.
Beautiful red rocks, huge canyon walls, and a river splitting down the middle makes this National Park a super hot commodity in terms of exploring. The last time I was in Zion was when I was 9, so I was due for another trip.
Somehow I convinced my friend Daniel to take this random and spontaneous trip with me, so we packed up the gear for our weekend trip to Zion.
We wanted to camp, but campgrounds inside National Parks can sell out even 6 months in advance so it can be tricky to just pick up and decided to visit.
One of my biggest weapons in my travel arsenal is Hip Camp. Basically it’s Airbnb but for campgrounds and you can find tons of campgrounds that you can reserve all over the country.
We camped at the Zion Wright Family Ranch and it was absolutely amazing. This campground is actually on a fully functioning ranch and the people who own it open it up to campers, and you can just drive in and set up shop anywhere on the allotted property!
We had to drive on a dirt road for 7 miles to even get into the ranch, and the night we got there a HUGE storm was blowing in. It was high key terrifying to drive through the washed out areas because I was like “Well I guess we’ll just see how deep these puddles really are” and went for it.
Not gonna lie, once we entered the ranch, Daniel and I drove around with both of our phones out yelling at each other saying “I only have one bar,” or “I got 4G right here”, “NO WAIT I HAD LTE PUT IT IN REVERSE” until we found a place where both of us had service (no shame lol).
Once we got all settled, another storm came in and this one was wicked. There was lightning EVERYWHERE and it started to pour. We ended up having to eat Lunchables and candy for dinner since we couldn’t start a fire and then put our seats all the way back and slept in the car because, ya know, we didn’t want to get struck by lightning.
Besides the obvious fact that sleeping on a seat in the car isn’t the preferred method of sleeping, we slept well and then woke up at the crack of dawn to head into the park.
Our campground was about 30 minutes outside of the gates of Zion, so we made that short drive over and were soon surrounded by the towering mountains.
During the summer in Zion NP, it can get insanely crowded, so to remedy that they have a shuttle bus that runs through the canyon. There are NO cars allowed in the park during the summer months whatsoever so you have to take the shuttle. The good news is that during these really busy times it runs every few minutes so you never have to worry about waiting around.
We took the very first shuttle at 6 a.m. into the canyon fully ready to take on Angel’s Landing which is arguably the most iconic hike in any western National Park. Then as we were riding waiting for our stop, they announced that it was closed because of the storm that hit the night before. Angel’s Landing is a dangerous hike as is, so if there is ever any weather issues it would be downright deadly.
I was SO disappointed because when I planned this trip, the two hikes I had my heart set on were Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. So we improvised and it ended up being one of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done!
Day 1: Observation Point
Even though we couldn’t do Angel’s Landing, I was still determined to do a challenging hike. We talked to some other people on the bus who had to change their plans too and they said they were going to hike Observation Point instead. We didn’t really have much to go on, so we decided to say fuck it and go.
This 8 mile round-trip hike was no joke, but to say the view was worth it would be an understatement. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
The craziest part of it all is that we were literally looking DOWN on Angel’s Landing from the top of this trail, so this hike ended up giving us an even better view of Zion and its beauty. Funny how things work out.
Day 2: The Narrows
As soon as I stepped into the water I was in awe. The canyon walls were so tall and incredible. Listen, I had high expectations for this hike but it was better than I even thought it would be. The beauty of this place can’t even be capture in the pictures.
It was so peaceful since we got out so early in the morning, and we took our time walking in the river and then trekking on the banks. In the beginning of the Narrows there are some parts where you walk along sand on the sides, and as you get deeper into the canyon it’s all water from there.
Around one of the first bends in the canyon was a legit WATERFALL coming down the canyon wall. I definitely made Daniel take 12348793 pictures of me because I’m an asshole and because it was too pretty not to.
I mean look at this. I N S A N E.
Word to the wise: if you do this hike make sure to bring hiking poles. You’re gonna need them to judge how deep the water is so you don’t eat shit every 5 steps. You’ll thank me later.
We hiked about 3 miles in and then turned around to head back. You can hike essentially as far as you want but in order to do the through hike, you need a permit and you also need to be crazy enough to do 16 miles of wading, hiking, and swimming through this water.
The Narrows blew my mind in every possible incredible way. It was hands down the highlight of my trip and I left completely satisfied and proud of everything I had accomplished.
If you’re down for some challenging yet completely rewarding hikes, Observation Point and The Narrows are definitely two must-sees for a summer trip in Zion National Park.