Grand Canyon is Grand, but Zion National Park is Much Grander

I've been on a bit of hiatus recently, having spent the past few days with my family in the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. It was a very cathartic break in my work schedule. All of us, including the kids, had as much enjoyment as we did last year in Arches National Park and Mesa Verde. The Grand Canyon is awe inspiring, but so is Zion National Park, and it seems like it's easier to interact with nature at Zion. That's why I think Zion is the grandest of them all.

Last Saturday we hiked Angel's Landing at Zion. The info board told us it would take 4 hours. We did it in three. But we were exhausted. It's a good thing Sunday was a rest day.

Monday we hiked the rim trail at Grand Canyon at sunrise. Then we hiked halfway down Bright Angel trail. The kids thought it was the most fun they'd ever had, until it was time to turn around and come back up! We had to pick the hottest day of the year, too--which caused our water to run out more quickly than we had expected. So instead of a nine-mile hike, we took the six-mile version.

It had never occurred to me before--but it makes perfect sense--that if it's 80 degrees at the top of the canyon, it's going to be about 100 degrees at the bottom. No wonder it was easier to negotiate the last 1.5 miles coming back up Bright Angel trail (rather than the first 1.5).

Tuesday we hiked a part of the Kaibab Trail, but because the windiest day of the year followed the hottest day of the year, we cut that short as well--for safety reasons.

We hadn't initially planned to, but we decided, since it was on our way home, to go back to Zion for some additional hikes. We stayed in the Zion Lodge Tuesday night, and it was heavenly to wake up to the sun-peaked cliffs of the park. Before breakfast we visited the Emerald pools. Following breakfast we found our favorite hike to be Hidden Canyon, something that we never even knew was there before. I've since spoken with others who agree with us that:
  • They appreciate Zion National Park even more than Grand Canyon
  • Their favorite Zion hike is Hidden Canyon
What's your opinion? Is Zion the best? Grand Canyon? Arches? Or something else?

As for me, the Grand Canyon is gorgeous, but I still think that Utah is the most beautiful place on earth.


  1. "This is the most beautiful place on earth." -Ed Abbey, Desert Solitare

    Darn tootin'.

    He was at Arches, but the Swell, Cedar Mesa, the La Sals, Book Cliffs, Blue Mountains, Waterpocket Fold, the Henry Mountains, Zion, the Escalante, Boulder Mountain, the Cedar Mountains, the Confusion Mountains, Notch Peak, Comb Ridge, and my own Wasatch Mountains make Utah what it is, too.

    And then there's my very favorite place, but that one is mine.

  2. It's hard to say which venue is best. But you can hardly go wrong picking any of them.

  3. Add Capitol Reef to the list, and then take the spectacular Hwy 12 drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon. One of the loveliest and at times most exciting drive you'll ever see.

  4. We had planned on taking the Highway 89 drive from Zion back up through Bryce, but we had way too much fun in Zion and took too long. If we'd had another day's change of clothes we might have extended our vacation a day, but we now plan to take a long weekend sometime this summer and head back down to Bryce and Capitol Reef.

  5. I personally love arches the best. But there is something to be said about all of them. And Arches is becoming to commercialized.


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