Need A Quick Break? Escape To Zion National Park
By Katie Hurrey
Looking for some space to clear the mind and explore spectacular scenery instead of lazing on a sedentary beach vacation? Less than a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, Springdale Utah could be your perfect destination! Go see Zion National Park.
I was searching for a vacation that wasn’t freezing cold but satisfied my craving for winter weather away from humid Miami. Since my partner doesn’t ski and lives in icy Winnipeg I thought we had better choose something slightly warmer than my annual Colorado mountain break…
Several friends have visited Zion National Park over the last couple of years and raved about the beautiful scenery so we thought we’d give it a try.
I fancied chilly hikes, red wine by the fire and romantic dinners in the village.
Springdale accommodation was affordable, although I imagine it gets pricey in summer, and there were many hotels and B&Bs to choose from. We settled on family-owned Zion Canyon Bed & Breakfast, with the majestic mountains as its backdrop. We had a lovely room with newly decorated en-suite, and a wrap-around balcony offering views of the park. There was a family pot-bellied pig, two collies, lots of ducks and hens whose eggs we enjoyed for our delicious and varied complimentary breakfasts. One of our favourite treats was the early morning coffee – one of us would wander down to the family kitchen before breakfast and pick up a freshly brewed French press of coffee to take back to bed. Another highlight was the massage chair after a hard day’s hiking.
The hikes through the park cater to all fitness levels and there are many trails to try. We did an eight mile round trip to Observation Point which was a strenuous workout but offered us stunning views from its 2,100 feet of elevation gain to the summit.
It isn’t as exposed or fear-inducing as Angel’s Landing at 1,500 feet, but there are some sheer drops which are all open; it was surprising how unspoiled and unfenced the trails are and although it isn’t likely that a hiker could wander off the trail and get lost in the park, it’s definitely possible. We explored Riverside Walk which was much more sedate and paved, and also trekked up to the Emerald Pools.
We could drive the car into the park and around to each of the trail-heads which is a perk of visiting in low season, and if you’re looking for a lively town with restaurants and night-life don’t visit in January. The town’s one main road was under construction so traffic was only moving in one direction, and most of the local businesses choose this time of year to go on holiday themselves so we only had the choice of one restaurant for all three evenings of our visit, thankfully the food was great and the outdoor heaters made for a cozy setting.
We loved that the trails and town were so quiet and were certainly lucky with the weather. I was prepared for rain and the possibility of snow and although there were still a few icy patches on the trails we were blessed with blue skies and sunshine with a high in the mid-sixties.
The winter colours were spectacular and while I would love to see Zion in its summer glory I’m not sure I’d want to do it with the 10,000 other daily visitors!
For those of us who are active and don’t want our bodies to completely hibernate on vacation this is a perfect destination, offering everything from gentle walks to high-octane climbs, and from calm walkways to adrenalin fueled precipices – you choose. The views are all breath-taking!