Zion National Park
Zion has become the second most visited national park, behind the Great Smoky Mountains, with over 5 million visitors in 2021. Its prominent feature is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to 2,640 ft deep in parts. The canyon walls are reddish and tan-colored sandstone that have been eroded down by the Virgin River. Visitors get breath taking views from high above the canyon floor. The Great Basin, Mojave Desert, and Colorado Plateau intersect here. The varied topography of canyon/mesa country, differing soil types, and uneven water availability, provides diverse habitat for the equally diverse mix of plants and animals that live in the area. There are four life zones found in the Park: desert, river, woodland, and coniferous forest.
We spent 3 days camping inside the park. It is definitely high on my list of the best parks I've been too. We hiked some amazing trails including Observation Point, Canyon Overlook, Emerald Pool, and Weeping Rock. At the time, Angel's Landing was closed so we did the next best thing and hiked the Hidden Canyon Trail to experience one of the park's famous vertigo-inducing trails where you utilize chains to help you keep your balance. There are a ton of neat things here and I could go on forever. From the way the bats swarm around the street lamps to eat the bugs that are swarming around the street lamps to the incredible restaurants and breweries just outside the park, this place is truly one of a kind.
My favorite thing we did here was hiking the narrows. I have yet to see anything that comes remotely close to this hike anywhere and it is my favorite hike I've ever done in any national park. You get to hike through the Virgin River with the slot canyon walls towering 2,000 feet above you. We diverged from the more touristy path with some friends we made and did a portion of the Orderville canyoneering trail. We free climbed little water falls until we couldn't make it any further because we didn't have rock climbing gear. I just remember really enjoying the beauty of nature here. If you're going to do this, please make sure you rent the water shoes and socks and a hiking stick from just outside the park. I was having the most incredible experience of my life and I saw people trying to do it barefoot or, worse, in regular shoes and they just looked uncomfortable.