If you are looking for some easy, relaxing hikes in Zion National Park, plan on crossing a lot of these short hikes off your list.
Shuttle to Riverside Walk
Start your morning off by taking the shuttle from the visitor center at Springdale all the way to the last stop in the park, the Temple of Sinawava, then spend the day working your way back. The shuttle is the best way to get around in the park; make sure to check departure times, but we never had any issues with using it. Because we got into the park early each day, we were able to easily park our car in the lot at the Springdale shuttle stop and were then able to just enjoy the ride in, without having to worry about parking or traffic. I highly recommend taking advantage of this free service; it is very convenient and the recorded PA messages at each stop give lots of interesting tidbits of information.
First up is the Riverside Walk. This short (2.2 miles roundtrip) stroll is flat and peacefully ambles alongside the Virgin River. If you go early in the morning, you can watch the sun slowly light up the cliffs; a perfect way to wake up.
Ideally, this would be the starting point of your hike up the Narrows, but we were unable to do this, as the water level was too high when we were there. Alas, I will have to save it for next time.
After your stroll along the river, where you may encounter deer or the occasional wild turkey, take the short shuttle ride to the Big Bend stop. Here you will find an easy walk amongst reddish swaying grasses along the base of Angel’s Landing. Enjoy the view of this famous hike from the safety of the ground looking up. Skip rocks in the river, bask in the sun, and take in the view of the Great White Throne.
Next stop is Weeping Rock, a half-mile hike up a steep hill. Named for its dripping springs, this rock tucked into an alcove offers a welcome relief from the summer sun. The gentle trickle of water seeping through the Navajo sandstone, the hanging gardens, and the views of the cliffs from the rock all make this short stop definitely worth it. (At the time of posting, this trail is closed long-term due to substantial rock fall).
Stop and have lunch on the grass under the cottonwood trees in front of Zion Lodge. I recommend packing a picnic, since the concession lines at the lodge were crazy busy.
Lower Emerald Pools
After refueling and resting for a minute, make your way to the Lower Emerald Pools, another very busy, but short, hike. Although originally named for the green algae that used to grow in the pools, the pools have long since lost their green hue. This 1.2 mile round trip hike leads you to the lower Emerald Pool and waterfall. (When we visited, the trail connecting to the Upper Emerald Pool was closed due to a landslide.)
After two days of hiking, try not to fall asleep on the shuttle ride out of the park. If you manage to stay away, make time to visit the oark museum to learn about the history of the wildlife, geography, and people of the park. As is true of most places in the park, there is also a great viewpoint from which to observe more rock structures.
Tired from the day’s activities, and toasted from our time in the sun, we headed back to our lodging to rest, hide indoors, nap, and fix dinner.
After our much needed rest and a good dinner, we were ready for the day’s final adventure: a (semi-treacherous) evening drive up through Zion Tunnel. This winding road with steeper drop-offs than I prefer connects you to the Checkerboard Mesa, or the East Entrance of the Park, and eventually out to Kanab, if you wish. Not eager to drive in the dark, we just popped up to drive through the tunnel before making our way back home for the night.
And that wrapped up our second day in Zion, and the sixth day of the trip. Click here for a recap of the activities from Day 5.