On the last leg of our trip, we drove from Lake Powell to Las Vegas with a stopover at Zion Canyon. We stayed in a lodge West from the park. We had two half days in the National Park. On both occasions with parked in the parking lot at the Visitor's Center and took the shuttle into the park. We found the ride in the shuttle bus the most enjoyable experience, thanks to the very well structured recorded information played in the carriages.
The drive into the park, from the East, was an incredible experience on its own. On Route 9, after travelling through a 1 mile long, the road rapidly descends about 1000 feet through a series of hairpin bends, with several lookouts (with parking).
If you are short on time, like we were, we recommend the hike to the Emerald Pools, starting from the Zion Lodge. On the way back, instead of going back to the Lodge, take the Grotto trail. The track to the Lower Emerald Pool is easy, it is moderately more difficult to the Middle and Upper Pools. Good hiking shoes, preferably with ankle support, are essential. Even though we were hiking in mid-afternoon, in the middle of October, it was fairly hot, so take water with you.
On the second day, we started early morning. After having a very good and very reasonably priced breakfast in Zion Lodge's upstairs restaurant, we travelled to the Temple of Sinawava (the end of the shuttle run) and went on the Riverside Walk. It is really a walk only, on a paved trail. We have seen people of all ages walking along, even parents with babies in strollers.
We did not have time to do the "real" hike into the narrower parts of the canyon, which starts at the end of the Riverside Walk and requires wading through the river -- hence our desire to return to the park!
It is essential to check the weather conditions beforehand.
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