Labor Day Road Trip: Zion National Park

For decades, national parks of all shapes and sizes have served as unbeatable vacation destinations for families across the United States. Among these, Zion National Park in Utah is one of the most loved by nature enthusiasts everywhere. With raging, muddy rivers and climbing, red mountains and plateaus, it’s impossible to deny the unique beauty that can be found in this little corner of the United States. Because it’s only a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, it provides the perfect opportunity to get away from it all and simply unwind. This also makes it the perfect road trip destination for your next Labor Day weekend.

Aside from serving as an excellent retreat from the bustle of day-to-day life in Vegas, this park offers several different activities to take advantage of throughout the year. Whether you’re a solo adventurer, prefer bringing along your friends or never miss an opportunity for a family vacation, there’s sure to be something for everyone in this park.

 Hiking

Labor Day Roadtrip to Zion National ParkAs is the case with the majority of national parks, Zion National Park is best known for its amazing hiking trails, each of which provides hikers with breathtaking views that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. While hiking groups are generally restricted to parties of no more than 12 people for safety purposes, there are a number of different trails to choose from so you can really personalize your Labor Day weekend experience.

The first trail you might want to consider if you’re a beginner is the Hop Valley Trail, which runs about 6.8 miles in total. While it can be a steep climb for some, this path largely wanders through open fields, which provide wide, unobstructed views of the surrounding landscape. The lower parts of the trail are flat, sandy, and bordered by sheer rock walls. There are no water sources, and the trail is open in the spring, summer and fall.

Another trail that’s excellent for the beginning or intermediate hiker is the La Verkin Creek Trail. This trail can run either 7 miles or 7.4 miles, depending on which stopping point you happen to choose. Hikers will begin their journey beside Timber Creek and progress to La Verkin Creek. This trail has plenty of water sources, which is something to take into consideration. A brief ascent provides beautiful views of the park’s many cliffs and rock formations.

Finally, if you’re looking for a challenge, you may consider taking on The Narrows, a 16-mile trail that’s open in the summer and fall seasons. This trail explores the gorge created over hundreds of years by the Virgin River. The gorge itself is around 2,000 feet deep in some places, providing beautiful views and a wilderness experience like no other. However, keep in mind that there is no maintained trail on this route. It follows the river itself, and up to 60 percent of the trip may be spent wading, so packing appropriately is crucial.

Camping

What would a national park be without camping? Fortunately, Zion National Park is home to three different campsites: the Watchman Campground, the South Campground and the Lava Point Campground. The first two are inside Zion Canyon itself, while the third is about an hour’s drive away. Camping is allowed in these sites throughout the year, though the best time to visit Zion National Park is usually in the summer or early fall months. In fact, these campgrounds tend to be filled to capacity every weekend from March to November, so you may need to make arrangements ahead of time.

If you’re not lucky enough to nab a camping spot within the park, that’s okay. There are several different campgrounds near Zion National Park to choose from, each with its own charms and easy access to the park. These include the Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau, the East Zion Tourism Council and the St. George Area Visitor Bureau.

Preparation

Of course, if you don’t take the proper time to prepare, you’ll never be able to enjoy all the beauty the park has to offer. Before you can enjoy a bit of Zion National Park camping, you have to get there. Whether your car’s an old one or straight off the lot, it could be a long drive to the park. Having your vehicle checked out by your technician before you head out can help prevent you getting stranded en route. Otherwise, viewing park camping guides and suggestions can help you prepare appropriately for the season.