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by | 2018 | The Lills, Travel

One of our finest moments on our cross-country trip was getting back on the road after being hit by a drunk driver in the Arizona desert. It took 24 days of patience and persistence, while we hobbled our VW bus around to be assessed and worked on, but we were finally able to continue West!

Our next stop was Zion National Park, a stunning nature preserve in southwestern Utah. We drove to the East entrance and spoke with a ranger, who said there were no campsites available in the whole park and that they book up months in advance. After a moment, he leaned in and said to “try your luck at the Watchman campground”, which was 20+ miles into the park.

After driving the swooping roads on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and after going through a beautiful tunnel carved into the mountainside, we made it to the campground at the South entrance. The sign said the campground was completely full, but it was our lucky day! After asking the park ranger if there was anywhere we could spend the night, they offered us the very last unoccupied spot. We were thrilled to sleep in the park and we were excited to drive our bus through the incredible landscape with our dog, Sunday, and our cat, Scotia.

Traveling Dog | Pets at Zion National Park Utah | The Lills Travel

Most national parks we have visited allow pets to hike alongside their owners on trails, but Zion only allows pets at campsites and around the lower level of the park. We drove around the lower level and thankfully, we found a little trail to walk Sunday and Scotia on. They were so happy to be surrounded in nature, even if they couldn’t go see the sights at the higher levels of the park.

It turned out that Zion National Park also doesn’t allow cars to go up to the sites. We learned everyone boards a Zion Canyon shuttle to arrive within hiking distance of the main attractions, so we jumped on one and zoomed all the way to the very last stop, called the Temple of Sinawava. The two of us hiked the path at a steady pace, until we came to a sweet little rest area with shade to cool off. It was surrounded by large rocks and we discovered we could climb over them. On the other side was a small pool of crystal clear water coming from between shelves of rock on the cliff-side. It was beautiful and it became our private little space to rest and explore.

On our walk back, we were greeted by a friendly squirrel who wasn’t afraid to get close and we soon realized there were hungry squirrels everywhere. We couldn’t believe how they all seemed to go toward people, rather than away from them. It was when we hopped back on the shuttle, however, that we learned the Zion Canyon squirrels are known for getting overfed by tourists, so the park asks that no one give them food. It seemed as though they were working the crowd and making out well nonetheless.

Alex Lill Lara Lill | Zion National Park Utah | The Lills Travel

The next stop we took brought us to Weeping Rock, our favorite part of Zion Canyon. We hiked up and up until we came to what looked like water coming from the cliff-side, not realizing we hadn’t yet taken the last few steps up to the real Weeping Rock. We turned around and we were simply blown away by how stunning the entire cliff ceiling was dripping with water over the edge. The view through the droplets was breathtaking and the mist coming from the water was so refreshing. While at Weeping Rock, we both stood up on the ledge of the little stone wall for a photo. It was so slippery, we almost threw ourselves over the edge. We should have expected it to be wet, but it made us keep a closer eye on where we were stepping.

Weeping Rock Zion National Park Utah | The Lills Travel

A person told us around 8 people lose their lives each year at Zion National Park and most happen to occur at Angels Landing, a 3 hour-ish hike to the very top of a 1,488 foot rock formation. It offers terrific views, but we decided to skip it and not spend too much time away from our pets. Instead, we got off the shuttle at the Emerald Pools stop. It was later in the day, so the light didn’t cast over the pools in an attractive way, but the waterfalls were beautiful falling onto the stones below.

We hiked around 7 miles at Zion National Park that day, enjoyed a night of camping and one night at a hotel in Springdale, to rest up for the next leg of our trip. It was a wonderful way to bounce back from the car accident and we all were thankful to be able to carry on and make it to Utah. See what happens next on our cross-country adventure here!


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