The Best Things to do in Zion National Park

Zion National Park is Utah’s oldest and most popular national park, due to its desert waterfalls, emerald pools, incredible hiking trails and awesome red cliff formations. It is somehow equally beautiful and improbable. Perhaps that it why it draws more than three million visitors a year, who come here to hike Angel’s Landing- a knife-edge tiptoe along a serrated mountain ridge, or who come here to explore the canyon floor or the Emerald Pools. Whether you have one day here or a week, we suggest checking out these 7 best things to do in Zion National Park.

7. Take a Horseback Tour

There is nothing like exploring Zion National Park and all that it has to offer by horseback. Choose from a one-hour ride that will follow the Virgin River for about a mile to the Court of the Patriarchs or for a more adventurous day, book the ½ day tour. The ½ day tour will take you around the Sandbench Trail, gradually ascending 500 feet and giving you a spectacular view of the southern end of Zion National Park.

Families can enjoy this gentle horseback ride providing children are over the age of 7 for the 1-hour ride and over the age of 10 for the ½ day ride. No experience is necessary on these rides, making it a unique way for anyone to explore the canyon.

6. Kolob Canyon Trails

It is easy to drive by the Kolob Canyon exit but it is well worth pulling off and not just to use the washrooms at the visitor’s center, but also to go half a mile up the road and explore. It is recommended you visit here during sunset, as the colors are absolutely stunning. There are a few trails here to choose from, ranging from a one-mile round trip hike to one that’s almost 6 miles.

The Taylor Creek Trail is one of the favorite hikes as it is a solid 5 miles that have little ups and downs, making it relatively easy. Hikers will reach the Double Arch Alcove, pass two cabins that are great for photo ops and cross the crystal clear creek several times. If you only have an hour or so here take the Timber Creek trail that is a 100-foot ascent following a ridge to a small peak that looks out onto Timber Creek and the Pine Valley Mountains.

5. Hike the Zion Narrows

It is the most famous backcountry route, a 16-mile journey into skinny canyons along the Virgin River’s north fork, only accessible from June to October. At least half of your hike will be in the river and depending on water levels, the water could be waist height. In saying that, this is no easy catwalk. The total trip takes about 12 hours and is best done over two days, staying in one of the 12 designated campsites deep in the canyon.

Expect lush hanging gardens that spring from the walls, turquoise colored water, dark corners and towering canyon walls. It is important to have the proper equipment when hiking this trail and many outfitters near the park rent it at a fair price. This once in a lifetime trails awaits you at Zion National Park.

4. Visit the Zion Human History Museum

Located just one mile north of the park south entrance, this museum is open to visitors daily from March to November. Here visitors will find permanent exhibits that display the rich human history of Zion National Park. Focusing on American Indian Culture and the historic pioneer settlement, the museum also illustrates the enormous effects of water in Zion.

After all, water is why people have traveled through and settled in Zion and is the creator and destroyer of the scenery that makes Zion so famous. There is a free 22-minute movie that is shown every half hour that provides an excellent overview of the park and a ranger is there to answer any questions. A small bookstore is a perfect place to pick up souvenirs such as maps, posters or books.  Make sure to head to the back patio area of the museum for an incredible view of Towers of the Virgin.

3. Hike Emerald Pools

It is one of Zion’s sweetest signature trails, generously loaded with breathtaking scenery. It is one of the most family-friendly hikes in the park that leads to waterfalls, pools and a dazzling display of monoliths. There are a total of four pools, the lower, middle and upper pools, all which take different trails to reach. The Lower Emerald Pool trail is paved and the easiest of them all, ranging just half a mile long until you reach the lush alcove of the lower pool, where ferns and moss sprout from the mountainside.

The trail actually ducks behind twin waterfalls that spill from the middle pool. There are actually two middle pools, which boast impressive views of Red Arch Mountain, Cathedral Mountain, and Mount Majestic. The trail leading up to the Upper Emerald Pool is more rugged and steep, but worth every step as you get to the secluded oasis of the pool, which is framed by colossal cliffs on three sides.

2. Hike Angels Landing

This strenuous 5-mile round-trip hike provides some of the Zion’s best overall views but you best be in good shape if you want to attempt it. The trail climbs 2.5 miles with sheer 1,500 ft. drops surrounding the very narrow trail; it is actually considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the USA. It is important to note that the hike is often extremely crowded and in some parts, it is so narrow that only one-way traffic is allowed through.

You will want to start this hike early in the morning and give yourself about 3-4 hours to complete it. Expect awe-inspiring views of the park from the top, that is if you are brave enough to complete the last half-mile where the trail becomes even more dangerous and steep. We think it’s worth it, and you will too as you stand on top of the world and revel in its beauty.

1. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

If there is one thing to do in Zion National Park it is the scenic drive. This drive offers the best overview of the park and can be completed even if you just have one day here. We recommend beginning the drive in the east, making your way through the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel and descending into the Zion Canyon.

It is here where you will be met with a stunning landscape of majestic monoliths, mesas, and other fascinating formations. There are a total of six switchbacks, two tunnels and many pull-offs where you can stop and take pictures. At the Canyon overlook you can get out of your car and walk the one mile round trip trail to view the West Temple and the Towers of the Virgin.

6 Things to See and Do in Uruguay

It is South America’s smallest country and has flown well under the radar for a long time in terms of tourism, but this year it is shaping up to be one of the hot spots to travel to. Think moments not made for tourists, the longest running Carnaval in the world, boutique wineries to explore and more. From learning how to dance the tango to soaking up the sun on the beach to exploring cobble street towns, here are our favorite six things to do in this tiny, but a fun-filled country of Uruguay.

6. Learn the Tango

Uruguay claims to be one of the capitals of the Tango and it’s hard to dispute that claim, seeing as in the city of Montevideo, the tango was danced for the first time. In the Old City, about 150 years ago the streets teemed with immigrant workers from Europe, freed slaves and fortune seekers who frequented neighborhood brothels and bars.

It is here where the tango emerged, a combination of African rhythms, Italian opera and a touch of polka thrown in. Today the Old City remains a mecca for the tango and although it’s a nocturnal business, visitors who are just learning can join lessons early in the evening before hitting the dance floor.

5. Attend the Carnaval

Carnaval is celebrated around the world but no one celebrates it like the country of Uruguay, who celebrates it for a whopping 40 days! From the end of January to mid-March, the country is decked out in costume parades, satirical comedies in the streets and contests for artists.

Montevideo is the best place to get involved as it hosts the most parades, the biggest drums, and incredible activities to join in on. The Llamadas is the two-night parade that is absolutely one of the highlights of the carnival, as are the tablado shows. Depending on when you go will depend on what you see but you can guarantee that it won’t disappoint.

4. Tour the Wineries

This country is the fourth-largest producer of wine in South America and it pays to check out some of the incredible wineries while you are here. A budding new wine route features over 15 small boutique wineries, a welcome change to the mass producers that are often seen around the world. Visitors are welcomed to these wineries with open arms, with owners taking great care to offer fabulous wines to taste, fabulous on-site restaurants and behind the scenes tours.

Make sure to check out the 15-acre Vinedo de Los Vientos where guests are treated to high-quality wines paired with lamb and beef cuts. More boutique and sophisticated is Bodega Bouza which overlooks the white sands of Punta del Este, one of South America’s hippest beach resort towns. Each bottle they produce lists the wine’s vintage, number of barrels used in the marking and quantity of bottles produced.

3. Explore Colonia del Sacramento

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of old colonial buildings, cobbled streets and quaint restaurants. Exploring the town only takes about a day and can easily be done on foot, although there are many shops that rent bicycles and scooters. The main attraction here is most definitely the historic center and the eight small museums you can visit for just one price.

Make sure to check out the Museo Municipal for its electric collection of treasures including a scale model of Colonia and a whale skeleton. One of the favorite things to do in this town is eat, due to the high number of restaurants that offer spectacular local food. One of the best places is Buen Suspiro, a cozy spot that specializes in local wines and cheese. In the winter cozy up beside the fire or in the summer grab a table on the back patio, we suggest reserving ahead for either.

2. Hit the Beach in Punta del Diablo

The former fishing village of Punta del Diablo is one of the greatest spots to be in this country, especially if you are planning on hitting the beach. Don’t expect high rise hotels, ATM’s or flashy things here; instead, you will find a laid-back surfer lifestyle where time is spent on the beach, day and night. If you wanted to learn how to surf it is easy to grab a board and an instructor from a local shop, or if waves aren’t your thing, sit back on the soft sand and soak in the sun.

Horseback riding is popular in off months to enjoy the awesome sunsets and many visitors choose to play in the large sand dunes. A dozen small bars and restaurants line the city, most only operational during the peak summer season and a handful of hostels, hotels and campgrounds are available for visitors.

1. Stay in an Estancia

Visiting and staying at an Estancia is Uruguay is about learning the history and culture of the country, it means unplugging and heading out to the country to experience typical rural life. If visitors are looking to do a little something different, this would be it.

Seeking out a traditional estancia is important and be prepared to switch off and join in the family life as this is no party place or entertainment venue, it is indeed a real South American Ranch. Join the ranchers on horseback as you learn about sheep herding, de-worming, branding and more. Eat traditional meals, sleep by candlelight and truly immerse yourself in the way of life for rural folk in this country.