The best travel bargain is the yearly pass to the National Park system. I bought my pass June 2014 for $80. I used it for 3 days in Yosemite ($20 a day per car = $60), then I used it in Zion (+$20) and then Grand Canyon (+$20). So I ended ahead. I ended ahead from day one, because it is a bargain to have access to such beauty in nature for just $20 a day.
So get off the couch or pool lounge chair and grab your car keys.
All day I kept thinking of the lyrics from the hymn: We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion. We’re marching to Zion, Beautiful city of God.
Zion is an awe inspiring sight. I thought maybe these Zion fans had never been to Yosemite. We are so blessed in the United States of America because we have so many truly special beautiful natural places. Zion National Park is among the best.
It was about an hour drive from the Inn at Entrada in St George. Highway 9 is very pleasant with small towns dotting the way. Go early in the morning for two reasons. First, the parking lots fill up quickly. Do not panic though because you can park and ride a shuttle from Springdale. Almost everyone moves about the parks on the shuttle buses or on a bike. Bring a daypack and remember water and sunscreen. Second, on the first of May it was 93 degrees in the afternoon. And it only gets hotter throughout summer.
The main Zion Canyon Visitor Center is on the edge of Springdale. It has a large selection of hiking gear and books just in case you forgot something. Even if you think you have your whole day planned, check in with the fabulous rangers or volunteers at the desk. They are full of useful information. Most importantly there are good bathrooms and you can never go too often if you are planning to hike.
We boarded the bus and laughed at the cute ads admonishing us not to feed the animals. Judging by how aggressive the squirrels are, I believe we should stop feeding them. The deer are also acclimated to crowds. Careful though, they are wild so admire from a distance.
We rode the shuttle bus to the end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to hike the Temple of Sinawava trail. It was a relatively easy hike. Just right.
When we told colleagues that we were going to Zion National Park, they proved they did not know us very well by suggesting we hike Angels Landing Trail. Right, a trail that is so steep they provide chains to hang onto. They sell a t-shirt in the gift shop for those who finish! Or they’d say, “You have to do the Narrows.” Seriously? It requires a swimsuit and water shoes and you the water is above your waist on some parts of the trail. We were perfectly happy with the short and beautiful hikes we chose.
Next up was the lower Emerald Pools trail we started from The Grotto, ending at Zion Lodge.
The Zion Lodge has accommodations, a couple of food options, and a gift shop. It is not one of the grand lodges of the National Park System, more Yosemite Lodge less Ahwahnee. It would be super convenient if you wanted to do some of the longer hikes. We got some refreshments and did a bit of shopping and then caught the bus to the Zion Human History Museum. We were 20 minutes from closing and this was enough time to take in the views from the patio and look at the exhibits.
One more short ride on the bus and we were back at the Visitor Center and our car. We were tired and extremely saturated with sun and beauty. It was a great day and we still had our stop at the Iceberg Drive-In to look forward to… milkshakes!
The challenge is to rank all of the great places in St George and choose only 5. So I’ll just say it now, I plan to cheat a little and mention a few honorable mentions as well. Prices are very affordable for a vacation spot and low compared to California or Washington, DC.
We drove by the Iceberg Drive Inn on our way to Zion National Park. The sign “famous thick shakes” caught my eye. After a day hiking in Zion it was an easy choice. We stopped for dinner and bought the combo: hamburger, fries and mini shakes. We could have easily filled up on the shakes alone!
If you have read my blog you know that I break for pie. When I read taht there was a place called Croshaw’s Gourmet Pie I made my friend go there. We started with scrumptious pot pies. Then moved on to amazing dessert pies. So good.
We ended up at George’s Corner because few places are open on Sunday. Lucky for us the food and service is very good. There is live music on the weekends on the bottom floor. Enjoy it or ask to be seated upstairs where conversation is possible. Of course they also have awesome pie.
Meeting girlfriends for a spa weekend is a wonderful benefit of easy travel and personal resources. For a number of years we went to the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona. This year we wanted to try a different place and I had read a few articles in travel magazines about Saint George, Utah. It had the advantage of being close to Zion National Park.
It turned out to be a terrific choice. First, it is inexpensive to fly into Las Vegas, Nevada and then it is a quick 2 hour drive to Saint George. Second, not surprisingly for a community with 75% Mormons, people are really friendly. Third, food and lodging are less expensive than in Sedona or Santa Fe.
We stayed at the Inn at Entrada in St George and close to Ivins. Our room had a fireplace, a small kitchen area with a bar and a roomy bathroom with huge tub. Plus we were able to park our car in the garage so it was always comfortable even in the heat. he Entrada’s spa is in the modern fitness center and the treatments were all terrific. We especially recommend the Heavenly Hair with extra massage. Our room was on the golf course and a pair of mallards visited us each morning to splash in the stream that went by our patio. Each day we received a fresh supply of water and cookies. The registration area offered sweet rolls.
The biggest advantage to Saint George is how beautiful it is in every direction. There are dramatic mountains, red rocks, and volcanic lava flows. Then the sky! The clouds, rainbows and stars are a continuous show. It is hot even in the beginning of May with temperatures in the low 90s.