12 Must-Do Activities In Zion National Park In One Day

things to do in zion national park in one day

Nestled within Southern Utah's picturesque landscape is Zion National Park. With breathtaking vistas, towering sandstone cliffs, and peaceful meadows, Zion is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. A day spent here is like stepping into another world altogether. If you're planning a visit, then you're in luck. We have curated a list of 12 must-do activities that will help you see Zion's best features in just one day. From hiking to nature walks, and much more, let's explore the beauty of Zion together!

Activity Description
Observation Point Hike This strenuous hike offers breathtaking views of the park and its colorful canyons.
Riverside Walk This easy, paved walkway follows the Virgin River and provides access to the Narrows.
Weeping Rock Trail This short, easy hike leads to a natural alcove where water seeps from the sandstone cliff.
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive This 6-mile drive offers stunning views of the canyon and its towering cliffs.
Emerald Pools Trail This moderate hike leads to a series of beautiful waterfalls and pools.
Canyon Overlook Trail This brief hike provides panoramic views of the park's red rock formations and canyons.
The Narrows This hike requires wading through the Virgin River, but the slot canyon scenery is unparalleled.
Pa'rus Trail This easy paved walkway provides views of the park's scenery and is great for biking and stargazing.
Angels Landing Hike This strenuous hike offers some of the park's most iconic views and a thrilling ascent to the top of a narrow sandstone ridge.


Hike Angels Landing

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If you're planning a day trip to Zion National Park, one hike you absolutely must do is Angels Landing. This 5.4-mile roundtrip trail boasts some of the park's most stunning views, but it's not for the faint of heart. Here's everything you need to know to hike Angels Landing in one day.

First, arrive at the park as early as possible. Parking can be a challenge, especially during peak season, so aim to get there before 8am. Take the shuttle to stop #6, the Grotto, where the Angels Landing trailhead is located.

The first two miles of the trail are relatively easy and offer beautiful views of the Virgin River and the canyon walls. However, the second half of the hike involves a steep ascent up a series of switchbacks known as Walter's Wiggles. Once you reach the top of the switchbacks, you'll come to Scout Lookout, a popular spot to take a break and enjoy the incredible views.

From Scout Lookout, the trail becomes even more challenging. You'll climb up a narrow, exposed ridge with steep drop-offs on either side, using chains to help you navigate the most treacherous sections. While it can be intimidating, the views from Angels Landing are absolutely breathtaking, with panoramic vistas of the entire park.

Once you reach the summit, take some time to soak in the views and snap some photos. Then, retrace your steps back to the trailhead. The entire hike typically takes three to five hours, depending on your fitness level and how crowded the trail is.

A few tips to keep in mind: bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes with good traction, as the trail can be slippery in some spots. And most importantly, exercise caution and follow all posted signs and warnings. This hike is not recommended for young children or anyone with a fear of heights. But if you're up for the challenge, hiking Angels Landing is an unforgettable experience that you won't want to miss.


Shuttle through Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

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Are you planning on visiting Zion National Park but only have one day to explore? Don't worry, you can still enjoy the beauty of this iconic park by taking a shuttle through the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

The shuttle is a convenient and eco-friendly way to explore the park as it runs from early morning to late evening and stops at all of the popular trailheads and viewpoints. The shuttle is also free and offers informative commentary about the park throughout the ride.

One of the first stops on the shuttle is the Zion Human History Museum, where you can learn about the fascinating human history of the area, including the ancestral Puebloan peoples and the early Mormon settlers.

Next, hop off the shuttle at the Weeping Rock Trailhead to take a short hike to the Weeping Rock, an iconic Zion landmark that is a must-see. At the end of the trail, you can witness water dripping from the sandstone cliffs, creating a mesmerizing display of nature.

Continuing on the shuttle, the next stop is the Big Bend shuttle stop, which offers stunning views of the river and the massive sandstone cliffs towering above. This is a great spot to take a quick photo or just enjoy the scenery before moving on.

Then, get off the shuttle at the Temple of Sinawava, where you can experience the world-famous Narrows hike. You can also take a leisurely walk on the Riverside Walk trail, which will take you along the Virgin River to the entrance of the Narrows.

Finally, as you make your way back towards the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, hop off the shuttle at the Canyon Junction shuttle stop to admire the beautiful Zion Canyon Viewpoint. This is a perfect spot to take in the sweeping vistas of the canyon and the surrounding landscape.

In conclusion, the Zion National Park shuttle is a great way to see all the major attractions in one day. With a little planning, you can experience the stunning views, witness the water features, and explore the iconic trails without getting lost or feeling rushed. So come to visit Zion National Park and see all the beauty that awaits you!


Visit the Emerald Pools

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Zion National Park in One Day: Visit the Emerald Pools

If you only have one day to explore Zion National Park, one of the must-do activities is visiting the Emerald Pools. This stunning natural attraction is located in the middle of the park and is accessible by a moderately easy hike.

There are three pools in total, each with its own unique beauty. The Lower Emerald Pool is the easiest to reach and is a great option for families or those looking for a shorter hike. The trail to the Lower Emerald Pool is just over one mile round trip and takes between 30-45 minutes to complete. The pool itself is a tranquil oasis with crystal clear water and lush greenery surrounding it.

The Middle Emerald Pool is slightly more challenging to reach, but the effort is well worth it. The trail is roughly 2 miles round trip and takes around 1-2 hours to complete. The pool is nestled in a natural amphitheater and is surrounded by stunning waterfalls and towering canyon walls. It's a perfect place to relax and take in the beauty of Zion National Park.

For those looking for a more challenging hike, the Upper Emerald Pool is the way to go. This trail is just over 3 miles round trip and can take up to 3 hours to complete. The hike is steeper than the other two options, but the view from the Upper Emerald Pool is absolutely breathtaking. From this point, you can see all three of the Emerald Pools, as well as sweeping views of the park.

If you plan on visiting the Emerald Pools, make sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and sturdy shoes. The trail can be slightly rocky and can get slippery in some areas, so having proper footwear is essential. Also, don't forget to pack a camera to capture the stunning views!

Overall, the Emerald Pools are a must-visit attraction for anyone exploring Zion National Park. Whether you have one day or multiple days, these pools are a natural wonder that shouldn't be missed. So, put on your hiking shoes and get ready to experience the beauty of Zion!


Take a dip in the Virgin River

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If you only have one day to explore the stunning Zion National Park, be sure to include a refreshing dip in the Virgin River as part of your itinerary. The Virgin River is a lifeline within the park, carving through the dramatic red rock formations and creating oases of greenery along its banks. Here's what you need to know to enjoy a swim in this iconic waterway.

Start your day early to beat the crowds and make the most of your time in the park. Head to the Zion Canyon Shuttle Stop #6 and take the Riverside Walk, a paved trail that follows the river for about a mile. Along the way, you'll see towering sandstone cliffs, hanging gardens, and impressive rock formations. Keep an eye out for wildlife, such as mule deer and wild turkeys, that often graze along the Riverside Walk.

At the end of the trail, you'll arrive at the gateway to the Narrows, a widely popular hike where you can wade through the river between towering canyon walls. However, if you don't have the time or equipment to take on the Narrows, don't worry – there are plenty of opportunities to cool off in the Virgin River without doing a full hike.

Look for a sandy or rocky area along the riverbank where you can safely enter the water. The river can be swift and slippery, so be sure to use caution and wear appropriate footwear. The water can be chilly, so take your time easing into the river and acclimatize to the temperature before diving in.

Once you're in the water, enjoy the refreshing sensation of the cool currents against your skin. Lounge in the shallows or swim upstream to some of the quieter pools away from the crowds. Either way, you're sure to be surrounded by the incredible scenery that Zion National Park is known for.

After your dip, take some time to relax on the riverbank and soak in the beauty of your surroundings. Consider packing a picnic lunch or snack so you can refuel before embarking on your next adventure within the park.

Taking a dip in the Virgin River is a must-do experience when exploring Zion National Park in one day. Don't miss out on the chance to refresh yourself in this iconic waterway.


Snap a photo at the Court of the Patriarchs viewpoint

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Zion National Park is a stunning destination to explore, with its towering sandstone cliffs, emerald pools, and winding trails. However, some visitors may only have a single day to explore this magnificent park. If you are short on time, don't worry! There are still plenty of sights to see, including the Court of the Patriarchs viewpoint.

Located in the eastern section of Zion National Park, the Court of the Patriarchs viewpoint is a popular stop for visitors. From this vantage point, you can gaze upon three massive sandstone cliffs that loom over the nearby valley. These peaks are known as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and are named after the biblical patriarchs.

To get to the Court of the Patriarchs viewpoint, you will need to drive to the eastern section of the park. From the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, take Highway 9 east for about 12 miles and then take a left turn onto the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. After driving for another 3.5 miles, you will reach the turnout for the viewpoint.

Once you arrive at the viewpoint, take a moment to appreciate the stunning scenery. The sheer size of the sandstone cliffs can be overwhelming, and the colors of the rocks change throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky. This area is also a great spot for photography, particularly during sunrise or sunset when the light is soft and warm.

If you have a bit more time to spare, there are several trails that lead from the Court of the Patriarchs area. The Lower Emerald Pool Trail is a popular choice, as it is a relatively easy hike that leads to a picturesque emerald pool. Alternatively, the Weeping Rock Trail is another easy hike that rewards visitors with a stunning view of a rock alcove that drips with water.

In summary, if you only have one day to explore Zion National Park, the Court of the Patriarchs viewpoint is a must-see spot. This area showcases some of the most iconic features of the park, including towering sandstone cliffs and breathtaking landscapes. Snap a photo, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and enjoy the beauty of Zion National Park.


Explore the Weeping Rock Trail

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Looking to make the most of your visit to Zion National Park in just one day? One of the must-see destinations is the Weeping Rock Trail. This short, easy hike will take you to a fascinating geological formation that's sure to captivate visitors of all ages.

The Weeping Rock Trail is just under a mile in length, and the entire hike can be completed in about half an hour. But don't let that fool you: the trail is packed with incredible scenery and fascinating features that make it well worth the trip.

The trail starts at the Weeping Rock parking lot, which can fill up early in the day during peak season. From there, it's a gentle climb up a paved pathway, with the towering red and white cliffs of Zion rising up on either side of you.

As you get closer to the end of the trail, the first thing you'll notice is the sound of water dripping and splashing against the rocks. This is the source of the trail's name: the Weeping Rock itself, an overhanging cliff that exudes water year-round.

The water dripping from the Weeping Rock isn't just any water, either - it's seeping out of the sandstone rock itself, part of a fascinating underground ecosystem that helps to sustain life in this arid environment.

After taking in the beautiful sight and sound of the Weeping Rock, you can continue a little further up the trail to get a sweeping view of the surrounding area. If you're lucky, you might even spot some local wildlife, such as deer or wild turkeys.

The Weeping Rock Trail is a great introduction to the unique geological and environmental features of Zion National Park, and it's a perfect choice if you're short on time. With its easy terrain, stunning views, and fascinating natural wonders, it's a highlight that you won't want to miss.


Drive the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway

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If you're planning a day trip to Zion National Park, the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway should definitely be on your itinerary. This scenic drive takes you through some of the most breathtaking views in the park, and can be done in just a few hours.

The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is a 25-mile long road that starts at the park's east entrance and winds its way through the stunning red rock formations of the park. Along the way, you'll pass through a mile-long tunnel that was blasted through the rock in the 1920s. The tunnel is one of the highlights of the drive, as it features several windows that offer views of the park through the rock.

To make the most of your drive, plan to stop at several of the scenic overlooks along the way. These pullouts offer panoramic views of the park, and are a great way to stretch your legs and take in the scenery. Some of the must-see overlooks include Checkerboard Mesa, East Temple, and the Great Arch.

If you're feeling up for a hike, there are several trails that can be accessed from the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. The Canyon Overlook Trail is a moderate 1-mile hike that offers stunning views of the canyon below. This trailhead is located just before the tunnel on the east side of the park.

If you're short on time, the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway can easily be done as a scenic drive without any stops. However, the overlooks and trails along the way really add to the experience and should not be missed if possible.

A few things to keep in mind when driving the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway: the road is narrow and winding in places, so take your time and be cautious. The tunnel is only wide enough for one lane of traffic, so there are occasional traffic stops to allow cars to pass through in opposite directions. Finally, be aware of the park's entrance fees and plan accordingly.

Overall, the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is a must-do when visiting Zion National Park. It offers some of the most iconic views in the park and can be done in just a few hours. So, put this on your itinerary and get ready for a scenic drive you won't soon forget.

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View the Great White Throne

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If you only have one day to explore Zion National Park, there are certain sights you definitely shouldn't miss. The Great White Throne is definitely one of them.

The Great White Throne is an immense white sandstone monolith that towers over the valley floor. It's one of the most iconic and recognizable features of Zion National Park, and many visitors come specifically to see it.

To get to the Great White Throne, you can take the park shuttle to stop #4, which is The Grotto. From there, take the paved trail towards the Temple of Sinawava. Along the way, you'll be treated to stunning views of the canyon walls and the Virgin River.

The trail to the Great White Throne is strenuous, with a steep elevation gain of over 1,000 feet. However, the views at the end are definitely worth it. As you approach the Great White Throne, you'll see it looming larger and larger in front of you.

At the overlook, take some time to soak in the views and snap some photos. You'll be able to see not just the Great White Throne, but also Angels Landing, The Organ, and other incredible landmarks of Zion National Park.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can also opt to hike the Angels Landing trail, which provides even more stunning views of the Great White Throne and the surrounding formations. However, this trail is not for the faint of heart - it's steep, narrow, and has sheer drop-offs on either side. If you do decide to take on Angels Landing, make sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes and take plenty of water.

All in all, viewing the Great White Throne is definitely a highlight of any visit to Zion National Park. So if you only have one day to spend in this incredible park, make sure to add it to your must-see list.


Trek the Narrows

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Zion National Park is a natural wonder of the United States, with stunning canyons, towering sandstone cliffs, and cascading waterfalls. Located in southwestern Utah, the park encompasses 229 square miles of wilderness and is home to a variety of hiking trails that offer some of the most breathtaking views in the world. If you only have one day to explore Zion National Park, one trail that you simply cannot miss is the Narrows.

The Narrows is a unique hiking trail that takes you through a dramatic slot canyon carved by the Virgin River. The trail is about 16 miles long, but most people only hike a small portion of it, commonly referred to as the Bottom-Up hike. This hike is about 9.4 miles roundtrip and is a perfect introduction to the Narrows. Here is a guide to help you trek the Narrows in one day.

First things first, make sure you are prepared for this hike. The Narrows involves hiking in the river, so make sure you have appropriate gear. You will need sturdy water shoes, preferably ones designed for hiking with good traction, as well as walking sticks. You can rent these equipment from several outfitters in the park. Additionally, check the weather and the flash flood forecasts before starting as the trail is closed during flood warnings.

Once you are ready, start your hike at the Temple of Sinawava stop, which is the last stop on the Zion shuttle system and has parking available. The trail begins on a paved Riverside Walk that follows the Virgin River for one mile. This mile-long walkway covers the basics of the Narrows and offers lovely views of the canyon, so take your time to enjoy this stretch. Once you reach the end of the Riverside Walk, the Narrows trail begins.

Now, it's time to walk in the river. The water can be quite chilly, so be prepared to get wet. The canyon walls will tower above you, and the river will carve a way through them. The path can often be narrow, which makes the journey even more thrilling. Keep an eye out for pools of water and boulders because the water depth and flow may change as you go deeper.

The further up you go, the more stunning the views get, but remember, you still have to hike back. It is essential to monitor the time, but the good news is, you can turn back whenever you want. Aim to make it to Wall Street, which is about two miles from the end of the Riverside Walk. This is where the canyon walls loom to over a thousand feet, and the path becomes more challenging. The scenery is worth the effort, and you will feel like you are in a different world.

When it's time to leave, maintain the same pace as you did while hiking upstream. Walking sticks can come in handy, especially while crossing deeper and swifter pools of water. If you have made it back to the Riverside Walk, then congratulations, you have completed one of the most scenic hikes in the world.

Though it is possible to explore other trails in Zion National Park in one day, the Narrows offers an experience like no other. It is a must-do hike and will take you to a place that will leave you in awe of nature's splendor. Hiking the Narrows in one day is possible, and if you do decide to attempt it, you will undoubtedly be rewarded with a memory that will last a lifetime.

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Check out the Canyon Overlook Trail

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Zion National Park in Utah is a spectacular place to visit, with its towering red cliffs, sheer rock walls, and rushing waterfalls. But what if you only have one day to explore this incredible natural wonder? Don't worry! With a little planning, you can see the best of Zion National Park in a day. And one of the "must-see" sights is the Canyon Overlook Trail.

The hike to Canyon Overlook is only about a mile round-trip, but it's steep and rocky in places, so wear good shoes and bring plenty of water. The trailhead is located just east of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Look for the parking lot on the south side of the road, across from the Pine Creek Trailhead.

From the trailhead, follow the marked trail up a series of switchbacks that offer stunning views of Pine Creek Canyon and the surrounding cliffs. As you ascend, you'll pass through a slot canyon and over slickrock sandstone, before reaching the overlook itself.

And what a view it is! From the overlook, you'll see sweeping vistas of lower Zion Canyon, with its towering sandstone cliffs and the winding Virgin River far below. You'll also be treated to a close-up look at some of the park's most iconic rock formations, like the Great Arch and the East Temple.

But the Canyon Overlook Trail isn't just about the view. Along the way, you'll also see fascinating geological features, like twisted layers of sandstone and pockets of ancient petrified sand dunes. And if you're lucky, you might spot some of the park's wildlife, like bighorn sheep or golden eagles.

Overall, the Canyon Overlook Trail is an excellent choice for anyone wishing to experience the best of Zion National Park in one day. But don't forget to bring your camera--this hike offers some of the most picturesque views in all of Utah.


Look for wildlife at the Watchman Trail

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Are you planning a quick trip to Zion National Park in Utah? While one day may not be enough to see everything, there are still plenty of options for visitors to make the most of their time in this stunning park. One of the best ways to explore Zion in a limited amount of time is to take a hike on the Watchman Trail. Not only does this trail offer incredible views of the park’s red rock formations, but it is also a great place to spot wildlife.

The Watchman Trail is an easy 3.3 mile round trip hike that starts near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and follows the Virgin River. The trail then winds around the base of the Watchman rock formation before climbing up to an overlook with panoramic views of Zion Canyon and the nearby peaks.

While the scenery is breathtaking, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along the trail. Mule deer are a common sight in Zion, and they often graze near the trailhead in the early morning and late afternoon. Bighorn sheep can also be seen on the rocky slopes above the trail, especially in the winter months when they come down to lower elevations to feed.

As you ascend the trail, keep an eye out for hawks and other birds of prey soaring above. You may also catch a glimpse of a peregrine falcon or golden eagle nesting on the cliffs nearby. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a California condor – one of the rarest birds in North America – which has been reintroduced to Zion National Park as part of a conservation effort.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, the Watchman Trail is a must-see in Zion National Park. Make sure to bring plenty of water, wear appropriate footwear, and check weather conditions before hitting the trail. And don’t forget your camera – you never know what kind of wildlife you might capture on film!

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End the day with a stunning sunset at Canyon Junction

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Zion National Park is a stunning destination filled with picturesque views at every turn. With a limited amount of time to explore the park, it can be difficult to decide what to see and do. If you only have one day to explore Zion, you won't want to miss out on the beauty of Canyon Junction.

Begin your day early and head to the Visitor Center to pick up a map and plan your route. Take the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which offers breathtaking views of the park's most iconic landmarks. Make a stop at the Court of the Patriarchs, a group of towering sandstone pillars named after biblical figures. You'll also want to make a stop at the Weeping Rock Trail, a short hike that leads to a natural spring that appears to weep from the rock face.

Continue on the scenic drive to the Zion Lodge, where you can grab a picnic lunch and marvel at the views. After lunch, take the Riverside Walk along the Virgin River. This easy, paved trail takes you to the beginning of the Narrows, a world-famous hike where you can hike in the river between towering canyon walls.

As the day begins to wind down, head back on the scenic drive towards the south entrance of the park. Stop at the Canyon Junction viewpoint, where you'll have one of the best views of the sun setting over the park's red rock formations.

End your day with a stunning sunset at Canyon Junction. As the sun dips below the horizon, its warm glow illuminates the rock formations, creating a spectacular sight. The tranquility and serenity of the moment make it worth experiencing. You'll be left in awe of the beauty and grandeur of Zion National Park.

In conclusion, while one day in Zion National Park may seem like not enough time, experiencing the magic of Zion from sunrise to sunset is an unforgettable day. End your day at Canyon Junction and witness a display of nature's wonder that will leave you with memories that last a lifetime.

Frequently asked questions

Some must-see attractions for a one-day visit to Zion National Park include hiking to Angels Landing, exploring the Narrows, and visiting the Emerald Pools.

Yes, it is possible to visit Zion National Park in one day, but you will need to plan your itinerary carefully to make the most of your time there.

Yes, there are several guided tours available for a one-day visit in Zion National Park, including hiking tours of Angels Landing and the Narrows, as well as jeep tours of the park.

For a one-day visit to Zion National Park, it is recommended to bring comfortable hiking shoes, plenty of water, sunscreen, snacks, and a camera to capture the stunning views. It is also important to dress in layers, as the temperatures can vary throughout the day.

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Ciaran Taylor

I'm so glad you had a great time exploring Zion National Park in one day! The Emerald Pools sound like a dream, and I can imagine how refreshing it must feel to dip your feet in those crystal-clear waters. The shuttle system seems like a convenient way to get around the park, especially since parking can be a challenge. Thanks for all the tips and suggestions. I'll definitely be sure to pack sunscreen and bring plenty of water when I visit!

Nicola Fitzgerald

Wow, Zion National Park looks absolutely stunning! I can't believe you were able to explore it all in just one day. The pictures you shared of the narrow canyons and towering cliffs are breath-taking. I'm definitely adding this to my bucket list of places to visit. Thanks for the recommendations on the Angel's Landing hike and the Riverside Walk. I can't wait to experience the beauty of Zion for myself!

Tamara Riddle

Your adventure in Zion National Park sounds absolutely unforgettable! The Hidden Canyon hike sounds like a thrilling experience, with its narrow trails and breathtaking views. I can only imagine the adrenaline rush you must have felt climbing the steep switchbacks. The park really seems to offer something for everyone, from relaxing walks along the river to more challenging treks. Thanks for sharing your amazing day at Zion - it's convinced me that one day is definitely not enough to fully explore this natural wonder!

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