Springdale, Utah is the perfect basecamp for adventuring in Zion National Park. It’s situated just outside the main entrance, and you can find everything you’ll need during your stay in the park. I always love scoping out the towns nearest to national parks to get the lay of the land so to speak because you’ll always need to restock supplies during a trip.
We spent a couple rainy afternoons in Springdale having a much needed rest from the countless miles we hiked. We didn’t do much eating out during our trip to Zion, but there are a number of good restaurants in town where you can find all sorts of delicious eats for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The locals recommended a coffee house called Deep Creek Coffee Company, and it’s a wonderful place to pass a few hours catching up on emails and/or planning the next adventure. The service is great, the food and coffee/drinks were wonderful, and it’s got a lovely quaint yet funky vibe going on that makes it a great place to hang out!
The campgrounds for Zion are located about 1/2 mile within the main entrance of the park, so it’s a quick trip to Springdale. Or if you’re staying at a hotel in town, it’s only a quick shuttle hop to get into the park. Like most national parks, there aren’t any showers in the campgrounds, so that’s yet another reason having Springdale so close is awesome. You can buy tokens for showers at Zion Outfitters (the 7th photo) and the showers are open 24/7 which is great when you roll like we do. We never call it quits and we’re usually out before sunrise and still out when the stars come out, so being able to hop into town for a shower whenever has it’s perks!
We had our whole itinerary planned for our days in Zion but we knew that would be subject to change depending on the weather. So about halfway through our trip we knew we needed to restructure and figure out what we were going to do with the unexpected rainy weather coming our way. Regardless of whether or not you’re eating out while on a hiking trip, you pretty much always need a good coffee house and little WiFi.
Another great bonus at Deep Creek Coffee is they offer freshly made smoothies. After a number of days on the road, I’m always craving something fresh, and we really enjoyed their Einstein (a berry green smoothie) and Citrus Milo Smoothies along with wonderful breves and amercanos. They also offer a nice selection of baked goods including gluten free and Vegan options which seems to be fairly rare, (in my experience at least).
This is the place I mentioned earlier where you can buy shower tokens. They also do all sorts of rentals from bikes to canyoneering equipment.
We actually ended up renting our gear from another outfit called Zion Adventure Company, (above photo) because that’s the one we saw first, but as far as I can tell they’re pretty equal, and it’s good to have options in case one place is already sold out (the rentals go fast).
And speaking of rentals, it’s best to go in the day before you need them to get sized and watch the mandatory movie where the warn you of the dangers of flash flooding and all the ways you can die when entering the canyons, (cheery I know, but the movie was really informative). Most people rent canyoneering equipment for the Narrows hike or the Subway, and both hikes are long full day hikes so it’s nice not to be running behind by getting sized for gear the same day you need it. In the summertime, you might not need to rent gear, but we went in the late fall and the water temperature was a chilly 50ºF. Since you’re wading in the water for most of the day, renting the proper gear was a must to make it all the way! You can also rent walking sticks which were really helpful, especially when the water was waist deep.
We went to rent our gear on a cloudy generally yucky weather day, and there were people just picking up gear at 11:00 am. This seemed crazy to me when you can easily spend 10+ hours in the Narrows, and the time of year we were there it was getting dark by 7:30 pm. The best parts of these canyon hikes is right before the turn around points, and you wouldn’t want to run out of time and miss it.
While wandering around town, you might want to check out the gallery of the famous photographer Fatali, (above image). We didn’t get to go in because they were closed for a few weeks, but from what I could see through the window, it would have been amazing to walk through and look at all the gorgeous photos.
Sol Foods was our supermarket of choice while we were there because they carry a few organics as well as gourmet food items. We also ended up buying some firewood here because it was cheaper than the other locations we checked. Just a quick note on the firewood though, we bought from 2 different locations and both times the wood was soaking wet, (just try and have good campfire with wet wood, it’s not possible).
On our first night camping we were choking on fire smoke and the smell of kerosine in the campground, and I wondered out loud if anyone knew how to properly start a fire without dousing it in fire starter every 20 minutes. Once we had unbundled our soaking wet wood and tried to start a fire, all of a sudden the kerosine started to make sense! Even once you got the fire burning it kept trying to go out which is why everyone was dousing their fire with kerosine every 20 minutes or so.
That was probably one of our biggest pet peeves from camping in Zion, the air quality was so bad at points that almost everything even inside of our car smelled like smoke. I’m one of those people who pretty much need a campfire to consider it camping, but this was the first time I happily went without!
There is another market (adjacent to the place with showers and equipment rentals) right near the entrance of the park but I never ended up going in before our time was up. Like I mentioned, we never went out for dinner while we were there, but the locals recommended Thai Sapa which is close to the entrance, and has a patio with a nice view.
Before our trip to Zion, we had just bought a JetBoil stove and we had lots of fun cooking on it. I’ve been thinking of doing a post with our trip meals laid out if you’re interested in seeing how we eat when we’re on the road!?!
Stay tuned for some more adventures from Zion heading your way soon!