First called Zion by an early Mormon homesteader, this corner of southwestern Utah does seem like utopia. The 229-square-mile maze of red and orange sandstonecarved into massive canyons, towers, and natural arches by the waters feeding the Virgin Rivercontains the 287-foot Kolob Arch, one of the world's longest, and marquee canyons like the nearly tunnel-shaped Subway.
EXPERT ADVICE: "Orderville is a great canyon," says Travis Tomlinson, owner of Springdale, Utahbased Zion Rock Guides. "It's a really tight slot, narrower than the Narrows but almost as talljust a great experience that seems to get overlooked a lot." The 11-mile hike to Orderville starts with a 15-foot rappel down a waterfall. In places, the canyon is lined with thousand-foot walls, sometimes no more than 25 feet apart and bedecked with spectacular hanging gardens. Zion Rock and Mountain Guides or Zion Adventure Company can teach you the basic canyoneering skills you'll need to tackle Orderville. But before you head into the backcountry, be sure to check on conditions with the ranger station.
CRASH PAD: Zion Lodge lies in the heart of the park and is a more than pleasant place to recover from a day of splashing through snowmelt in the bottom of a sunless canyon. Its 40 cabins feature porches and stone fireplaces. From $162 per cabin; zionlodge.com