Wellness & Adventure Guide To Zion National Park
Expansive mountains and blue skies, rivers hidden amongst winding canyons, and lush greenery contrasting red rock, Zion National Park in Utah is not your typical desert.
For my 30th birthday, I decided I wanted to be doing 3 of my favorite things: connecting with mother earth, hiking, and drinking wine. To top it all off, 7 of my favorite people decided to join me. :)
Driving into the area surrounding Zion National Park was magical. From the dusty, barren desert, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by big, beautiful, other-worldly mountains. We were in complete awe by the colors and vastness of the land.
Our first stop was Under Canvas Zion, a beautiful “glampground” surrounded by desert greenery and red mountains. There were 3 of us, so we got a standard safari tent. Under Canvas provides you with a luxury glamping experience with comfortable beds, a restaurant, bathrooms, and showers. They even had yoga mats and props that we were able to use in the morning. There wasn’t much in the way of vegan food, but we were able to modify a couple of dishes and make it work.
At night, we had a clear view of the stars. So clear that we could see the milky way and a ton of shooting stars.
The next morning, I opened my eyes to look straight out of the tent at the sun slowly coming up from behind the mountains. We walked around and watched the sunrise, and then helped ourselves to some of the complimentary coffee in the dining tent. It was the perfect way to wake up and I really recommend staying here for at least a night when you visit Zion.
Next up, was our 3-night stay at South Campground inside of Zion National Park.
Right outside of the park entrance are tons of restaurants, small grocery stores, and gear shops. So, if you forgot anything at home have no fear, you’ll be able to find it on your way in.
South campground is right inside of the south park entrance and the shuttle stop, so it was a great place to be. It has clean bathrooms (no showers) and drinking water on site. Of all of the campgrounds I’ve been to, this is definitely the cleanest and most convenient.
We were also able to book out group campsite ahead of time which was super helpful. If you’re looking to go camping in Zion National Park, you can book up to 2-weeks ahead of time and I recommend it because it it looked very difficult to come and get a spot on first-come-first-serve basis.
This campground is also situated right on the Virgin River and and the beginning of the Watchman Trail. It was the perfect place to be for 3 nights.
There is no shortage of adventure in and around Zion National Park. Whether your a casual walker, rock climber, hiker, or biker, there are ample opportunities to get your fix.
We did two of the three big hikes in Zion National Park: The Narrows and Observation Point.
This hike was out of this world! The Virgin River flows between curving, smooth canyon walls., with the light shining in from high above and casting intricate shadows.
Because you spend basically the entire hike walking through water, we decided to rent water shoes, neoprene socks, and Gandalf-esque hiking sticks from The Zion Outfitter, which is literally 30 seconds from the park entrance and 1-minute from our campground. It was well worth the $25 to have the extra support and comfort during the day.
The hike is pretty moderate and can be as long as you’d like it be. The trail extends up to 16 miles but most people do around 4 miles round trip. We probably went about 5 miles and It took us about 4 hours. With this amount of time we were able to hike past the bigger crowds to emptier parts of the trail which was really nice. The most challenging part was navigating where to step, since you can’t see through the river water. The walking sticks were definitely key for this hike (and they were just fun to have to tbh)
Insanely beautiful, but definitely strenuous. This hike takes around 4 hours on average and is about 8 miles round trip. We were a bit concerned with the heat, but were pleasantly surprised to find that it was mostly shaded.
Most of the hike is up hill, it contains a lot of switchbacks, and towards the top of the climb are narrow switchbacks with steep drops on the side. At the top is an incredible view of the entire valley that does not disappoint!
On the way up to the top, you are so focused on getting there and watching your step that we didn’t really notice how crazy the view was. So on the way down, we got to really take in all of the breathtaking scenery.
I have actually found eating vegan while camping to be much easier than trying to prepare meat, eggs, etc.
Overnight oats in mason jars - topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and peanut butter.
Peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwiches on gluten-free (for me) and whole-grain bread.
Night 1: Bell pepper, mushroom, and onion tacos on corn tortillas, topped with avocado and salsa. Side of grilled corn on the cob and lots of chips, guac, and salsa.
Night 2: Beyond meat burgers topped with onion, tomato, avocado and organic ketchup and dijon mustard. Side of tofu and veggie kabobs and more chips, guac, and salsa.
Night 3: Grilled tofu and veggie tacos. Chips and guac again. I may have turned into a chip this weekend.
Vegan S’mores of course!
& some delicious gf, vegan cupcakes my friend Alyssa brought for my b-day celebration. Yum, yum, yum! :)
The last thing I’d like to mention is that there are at least 3 CRYSTAL SHOPS on your way into the park! We stopped into the first one we saw because we got so excited. The man running the shop was adorable and very helpful, and I walked away with a beautiful chunk of blue glass and a sparkly, magnificent chunk of citrine that reminds me so much of the Zion mountains. My friend Jenay found herself a beautiful bookend and a flute that I’m 100% sure our camping neighbors did not appreciate.
To sum it all up, Zion is absolutely AMAZING. Visiting the park is extremely easy and accessible, and even if you’re camping, there are plenty of services and amenities nearby (almost too many, if you like to really be off the grid). It is a truly special place and I know I will definitely be going back at some point in my life. I hope that you have a chance to visit too.
Til next time, my friends!