Article: Part 3 Visiting Zion National Park & Fort Zion & Laverkin Overlook
This is Part 3 of our our US Cross Country Road Trip Adventure from the West Coast to the East Coast
You can see the other parts (articles/videos/photos) here
We arrived safely at our St George, Utah hotel on July 6th, checked in, and decided to relax and leave the adventure for the next morning.
Over the years we have visited some pretty impressive National Parks in the US and we were hoping to see some more treasures during our Road Trip Adventure.
Utah is a safe bet and this time around we headed the next morning to Zion National Park.
Day 1: Zion National Park with Fort Zion & Laverkin Overlook Road
The drive from St George to the Zion Canyon part of the National Park took about an hour.
There are four main roads within the National Park:
a) The Kolob Canyons Road runs in the North
b) The Kolob Terrace Road which is the longest road within the park. It runs until the Kolob Reservoir and then you have to return the same way you came from which can make the journey substantially long especially considering the low speed limits within the national parks.
c) Zion Canyon Scenic Drive (this road is not open for public vehicles, you have to take park your car and take the free shuttle bus)
d) Zion-Mount Carmel Highway which we turned into.
After a while we reached a tunnel. A ranger gave us a stick to hand to the ranger on the other side, indicating that our car was the last one and then we drove through the tunnel.
The tunnel was very dark except for a few windows. Unfortunately you cannot stop inside the tunnel, however, the windows dug into the rock there work perfectly as a teaser.
The National Park offers a variety of hiking routes. You can take a short 30 minute hike or even longer ones up to 8 hours.
We wanted to hike the Canyon Overlook Trail. A round trip hike along the Canyon Overlook Trail takes about an hour and it is 1mile/1.6km long.
The Canyon Overlook Trail starts right after the tunnel. At first, we did not realize that and headed further to the East until we saw a car parked at the side of the road and a few desert bighorn sheep.
We stopped for a moment and took some photos and then returned to the tunnel.
There is a parking lot at the end of the tunnel opposite the trailhead.
On our visit the parking lot was full and so we had to turn around again and search for a spot further up. The first pull out indicated that parking was not possible and the next one did not indicate anything so we parked there.
From there it was only a 5 to 7 minute walk to the trail. We asked the ranger at the tunnel entrance whether it was ok where we parked and he said that it was fine as long as we are not in the road.
Sometimes you really cannot be sure whether it is allowed to park at certain places.
Everything was set and so the hike could start. The uphill terrain was a mixture between red and yellow coloured soil and rocks. You could really feel the heat off the rocks.
Along the path were several green trees and plants. The plants definitely made Zion different to Arches National Park which we visited some years ago. Arches did not have so much vegetation and was comparatively dry.
Certain unfenced parts made the hike feel like a little rock climb which was pretty cool. The trail can be easily hiked by someone with basic fitness level.
You just have to wear proper shoes and have enough water with you. There are always some rocks around to sit and rest. The trail was fairly busy and there was enough space to walk around.
Eventually we reached the viewpoint. You can see the Pine Creek Canyon and the lower Zion Canyon from there.
After the viewpoint we turned around and hiked back down the same way we came from. An hour’s hike was the perfect length of time for such a hot summer’s day and the viewpoint was worth all the effort.
The entrance ticket is valid for 7 days (status Oct 2014): USD 25.00 per vehicle or USD 12.00 per person (for pedestrians, bicycle, motorcycle and organized groups).
Click here to visit the Zion National Park website
On our drive along the Highway UT-9 from Zion National Park back to St George we also stumbled upon a quirky tourist attraction.
It is called the Fort Zion/Virgin Trading Post.
As you drive along the road, you cannot miss it because of its colourful Western Town. It looked like a miniature movie set. Inside you can find a big souvenir shop, a restaurant and you can enter the Western Town including a petting zoo for USD 1.00.
Even though we didn’t enter the Western Town/petting zoo, it was still worth a short visit.
Location of Fort Zion: 1000 Utah 9, Virgin, UT 84779, USA
The scenery along the UT-9 is amazing and before St George we did another stop. Just after Fort Zion we drove into an unpaved road (to the left about 3 minutes after Fort Zion).
The road leads to the Laverkin Overlook. Unfortunately there was an odd smell just at the overlook and so we quickly turned around. Just before we reached the main road UT-9, I (Kristin) took this beautiful shot of a canyon.
Details of location: Laverkin Overlook Rd, La Verkin, UT 84745, USA