Near Zion – Grafton Ghost Town

Grafton, UT
Photo Credit: Bingen Cortazar on flickr

Nearby Zion and off a tiny road in the small town of Rockville sits a spooky ghost town. In all reality it really isn’t that scary of a place, from what history tells us, nothing too terrible happened there. It really is just a cute little old town that was abandoned due to lack of farmland. Although it’s not something out of a horror film, it is one of the more fun places to visit while near Zion National Park.
To get there you will take a small, sort of hidden road in Rockville called Bridge Lane, you will come across and old rickety one lane iron bridge, drive across and keep going down the dirt road, you will first come across the graveyard, and if you continue onward you’ll reach the town. Make sure that you keep an eye on the road though as it is right next to a cliff with rocks that jut out, and the road can be very bumpy and has a lot of sharp turns, safety should always come first, drive with caution.
The Town of Grafton was built in 1859 as a cotton growing establishment. You will notice that there are several headstones that are marked with the same death dates, this is due to the life there that was harsh and frequent indian attacks and floods caused a lot of grief for the early pioneers.
This ghost town is one of the more well preserved and isn’t a tourist trap, you won’t find an old building that has been refurbished and turned into a gift shop or just a bunch of broken down “buildings” (piles of rocks). That is what makes Grafton such a cool experience, there is a lot you can learn about the early settlers in this area from visiting the town, even the cemetery is very protected and maintained.
This is the perfect day trip for those just wanting to get away from the tourists, or if you want to spook your friends and family, visit in the late evening hours!

What to Expect When Hiking Emerald Pools

Want to go on a hike on a super-hot day in Zion National Park, but need something moderately easy with plenty of shade to keep you cool? Emerald Pools is a refreshing and beautifully scenic hike for those who need something a little less extreme. Only a .6 mile long hike this is the perfect hike for the entire family, including the really little ones!

emerald pools in zion

The start of the trail is paved making it feel like more of a stroll through the park, rather than a hike. Plenty of shade is provided due to the cottonwood and box elder trees that seem to line the trail. Alongside of you will be the beautiful Virgin River. As you make your way to the pools you will get random splashes of cool spring water that falls from and seeps out the sandstone cliffs along the trail.

Once you reach the pool be prepared to be blown away by its beauty. The pool sits in a circular canyon, with beautiful sandstone boulders and shrubbery that peeks out of the rock cliff.  This is where most of the hikers take a break to eat, play, and take in the lowers pools beauty. The rest of the hike is mostly paved trail where more water falls from the cliffs and provides a refreshing exit of the hike.

Lower Emerald Pools is definitely a favored hike in Zion, and is by far my favorite short hike in Zion. I have hiked it a handful of times during different seasons and it never ceases to blow me away with its magnificent views and relaxing aura. This really is the best hike for a day trip with the entire family. Be sure to pack some waterproof hiking shoes for the trip to the pools. You are bound to get wet here. Have fun and enjoy beautiful Lower Emerald Pools!

Snow Covered Kolob Canyon


We are always partial to Angels Landing, the Narrows, and the likes. But if you were looking into going out a bit further than the main part of Zion, the Kolob Canyon section of Zion is one of our favorite spots. The views just off of the road are expansive an inspiring. And if you are looking into seeing Zion with a bit of snow on it, then there are few better spots to see it at than Kolob Canyon. They do plow the roads, but they can still be quite slick right after a storm, but don’t let that stop you as most cars should be able to handle it just fine.

It’s just something about the drama of the scene, the white snow in contrast with the shockingly red Kolob Canyon fingers makes for one beautiful scene. So take your family for a drive to see one of the prettiest snow locations in all of southern Utah, Kolob Canyon. It sits just off of I – 15 near St George, and if you’re in a hurry you could probably drive up and down it in 20 minutes or so.

We took this picture from it about a month ago, but there’s been more recent snow so we know that it again looks like this, or even better. So take the time, make a trip to the Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park.

Kolob Canyon in Winter

Hiking Water Needs in Zion – How Much do You Need to Carry?

Water keeps you hydrated when you are hiking in places like Zion Canyon, it is one of the most essential items that you should carry when you are going hiking.  You need to carry a lot of water, which makes your back pack heavier, but sometimes it’s a better idea to carry small bottles instead on big ones that are too bulky.  Most hikers do this mistake, they try to bring big bottles and they get tired while carrying them on the trail. So get small bottles, easier to pack and easier to carry.

Not a commercial

A lot of trails in Zion will have drinking water available at the trailhead, but not all. So it is still a good idea to carry at least one or two liters to keep you safe depending on the hike you’re doing. Being hydrated is very important in hiking. You get tired easily, but when you keep drinking water it supplies you the required energy to keep up the pace. You’ll also need to eat some snacks to get instant energy.

Essential Water Needs For Hiking in Zion

Water is essential when hiking, each individual has a unique requirement for water and their unique metabolism. There is no theory or formula for exactly how much water is needed to keep you hydrated.   And also there are many other factors that modify the water needs for each individual.

Here you can find few basic needs of water:

  • Generally a person requires about ½ to ¾ quart of water per day to stay alive, and it is sufficient for thinner people. But if a man is around 175 pounds then the baseline is 3 quarters per day
  • A common analysis is that for every 4-5 miles of hiking, you need an extra one liter of water.

The fact is that you lose water from your bodies in 3 major ways:

  1. Breathing – When you breathe you will inhale air takes in the moisture in the lungs and when you exhale you will lose it.
  2. Sweating- moisture will come out through the skin, though you don’t see the sweat.
  3. Urinating- Whenever you go to nature calls, along with the waste, it also removes the moisture from your body.

how much water is needed for zion

Variables That Affect Water Needs While in Zion

On that baseline of water needed, additional water will be lost due to many physical and environmental factors. You may also lose water from your body due to environmental and physical factors like:

  • Humidity – Low humidity can evaporate sweat very quickly and cools your body.  This gives you nice feeling, but it also increases your water needs.
  • Wind – The air that moves away from your body, also takes the moisture with it which is why you feel thirsty quite often.
  • Temperature – if the weather in Zion National Park is hot, naturally it makes you sweat. When the air gets warmer, then you lose the more water from your body.
  • Elevation – When you are hiking at elevated region, the humidity gets lower and you may need more water due to lower temperature and humidity impact.
  • Energy Level – When you are hiking you are, in fact, making more muscle movements; which generates heat so to cool you off you need to drink more water. Limit your activity levels to lessen sweating and heavy breathing to save body water.
  • Acclimation – your body accumulates to different kinds of environment over a period of time and it controls itself more effectively. Accordingly, a person consumes more or less water while hiking.

 Technique to Save Water

The best way to save water is hike during the morning hours and evening hours especially during the summer. It helps you avoid the direct sunlight effect on your body.  And also you can more peaceful hiking.

Maintain a steady pace while hiking; go slow so that you may not breathe heavy and no sweating.  Wear a wide hat with a brim and use umbrella to avoid sunburn.  Check the map to find the water spots. Carry enough water to keep you safe. Drink lot of water and hike safely. That way your experience hiking in Zion National Park will always been one you can look back on and smile.

Photo Credit: J.B. Hill on flickr

Zion in Winter Panoramic

We’ll admit there aren’t many panoramic images that we love, but this one taken off of Kolob Terrace road is definitely one of our favorites. Just look at those snow capped mountains of red and white in the distance! Zion during the winter months offers an incredibly unique experience, one that you shouldn’t miss out on.

Kolob Winter Wonderland by Argo Shots on

Hidden Gems – City Parks in Springdale

Did you know that Springdale has some of the prettiest city parks you’ll find anywhere? And one of them is tucked back a bit so 99% of people who visit Zion don’t even know it exists! Well here’s the low down on two of them, with our favorite being the hidden gem of sorts.


This city park has one of the most picturesque sand volleyball courts you’ll find anywhere. Just look at that view! Playing a pick-up game of sand volleyball on those courts is something that you won’t soon forget. And lucky enough the mild winters in Springdale mean you can often play here even during the winter months. They take great care of the courts, in fact when this picture was taken last week there was an older gentleman who helped construct the courts years ago, out shoveling the sand to make sure the courts were in playable condition.

There’s more than just volleyball courts here too, in fact right behind the sand volleyball courts there are some tennis courts that have an equally astounding view of the canyons of Zion. And behind those there are some pickelball courts as well. So if it’s tennis or pickelball that fits your fancy this park has you covered both ways.

Next to the volleyball court in Zion there’s a children’s play area that is sure to keep the little ones entertained. And if that doesn’t there’s also a soccer/baseball field right next to both of them where you could set them free to run and play until their hearts are content.

And last but not least, there is a pavilion and picnic tables available as well. So if you’re looking to do some small bar-be-queuing then you’re in luck. All in all this is one of the best small town parks west of the Mississippi.

You’ll find this park right next to the Springdale town hall off of Lion Blvd. And here’s a map to it as well:

Springdale River Park

The other park is one that’s hard to miss as it’s right off of the main drive through Springdale heading into Zion. It has some picnic tables set up, bathrooms available, and a bridge over the virgin river that is incredibly scenic. You really can’t go wrong taking a quick break at this little park off of the main drive. Especially during the fall (the picture below was taken just a week ago), the falls come a little later here, and last a little longer than most places in southern Utah, so a late fall picnic to a place like the Springdale River Park is something you should definitely add to your list.


Fall in Zion Canyon

There are few things we love more than fall in Zion Canyon. The colors, the temperature, the views, the fun. Not to mention all of the events that are going on this fall. From the live music every weekend, to the 10k runs, to the bike races. There really is so much to see and do out here.

So come soon and come often to Zion Canyon, especially in the fall.

Virgin River Meandering through the Mountains of Z by Phil Bird LRPS CPAGB on

Southern Utah is an Incredibly Beautiful Place

We might be a bit biased, but we think that southern Utah is one of the prettiest places in America. The diversity you’ll find, the stunning rock structures you’ll find, and the towering trees and trails you’ll find make for just a splendid place to live. Zion National Park itself offers out-worldly beauty, but even beyond just Zion this video illustrates that there are amazing things to see and do here.

Southern Utah…Home Sweet Home. from Ben Braten on Vimeo.

Which makes being a place to stay in Zion that much more fun. Because not only can you see and do fabulous things right outside your room here, but within just a few minutes of a car drive you can be boating at Sand Hollow, mountain biking at Warner Valley, skiing at Brian Head, or any other of a number of things.

Going ATV riding along the rim out in Smith Mesa is one of our favorite thing, it gives you incredible views not only of Zion, but places like Gooseberry Mesa, and Pine Valley. As well you’re out where few other people are, so there’s an immense sense of calmness when you’re out there.

This video also shows another one of our favorite places, Pine Valley and its little reservoir. Pine Valley is so much different than the red rocks of Zion, which makes it a bit of fresh air. The towering pines are beautiful, and the valley itself makes for a wonderful place to picnic and hang out for a few hours. There’s a steak house in the town, and an old ice cream parlor, both of which are so very tasty.

And last but not least Tuacahn is the best place in southern Utah to catch a live show or play. Their productions are top notch, including many from Disney itself. So come prepared for a show that is 100% professional, with amazing props, and fantastic actors. All with one of the more beautiful backdrops you’ll find anywhere around.

The Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion

The Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion is one of the more popular hikes in Zion. For a couple reasons, the view is amazing, and the approach is quite simple. You’ll encounter the young to the old on this trail, as there is very little uphill, and the trail itself is short.

But as you can see from the views they are hard to match. In fact you’ll feel a little guilty to have such a view with such little investment.

canyon overlook trail

Getting There:

The trail head is just after the tunnel so it’s super easy to find. As soon as you go through the tunnel you’ll pass a guard station, and just after the guard station is where the trail starts.

The Trail:

You’ll climb just a bit at first and then most of the uphill is over. After that you’ll be walking along the canyon overlooking the start to Pine Creek Canyon (a technical canyon). Before long you’ll come to a wooden bridge that’s pretty fun to walk along while looking down below you. After the bridge there’s an alcove that you walk under that is quite interesting and a good spot to take a quick break at if need be.

overlook trail

You’ll have a another slight incline through rocked steps and then be very near the end. As you keep heading west you’ll soon see the end of the hike and a the million dollar view.

It’s quite inspiring to come to the edge of the Canyon Overlook and to see clear down the canyon. To see all of the switch backs that you came up in your car below. If you look to the left (or south) then you’ll often see people exciting the Pine Creek as they walk along the creek bottom.

Make certain to take a quick lunch with you so you can linger on the edge, truly the view from the Overlook in Zion is one of the better views you’ll see. So if you’re coming to Zion make certain to not miss out on the Canyon Overlook Trail.

overlook trail in zion canyon