Zion National Park (Utah): A Guide to the Best Hikes and Views



zion national park

Zion National Park is a stunning natural wonder located in southwestern Utah, USA. The park is known for its breathtaking red rock formations, deep canyons, and the winding Virgin River. It is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, attracting millions of visitors each year.

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The park offers a wide range of activities for visitors, including hiking, camping, canyoneering, and rock climbing. With over 200 miles of trails, Zion National Park is a hiker’s paradise. From easy walks to strenuous hikes, there’s something for everyone. The park’s most famous hike is the Narrows, a 16-mile trek through the Virgin River that takes you through towering canyon walls.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a scenic drive, Zion National Park is a must-see destination. With its stunning landscapes, unique geology, and rich history, this park is truly a national treasure.

Getting to Zion National Park

Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah and is easily accessible by car or shuttle. Here’s how to get there:

By Car

If you are driving to Zion National Park, the main entrance is located along State Route 9. The park is located about 160 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada, and about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City, Utah. From Interstate 15, take exit 16 and follow State Route 9 east for about 32 miles to the park entrance.

Private vehicles are allowed on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive but parking is limited. During peak season (March through November), the park operates a shuttle system to reduce traffic congestion and parking problems. Visitors are encouraged to park in designated parking areas and use the shuttle system to explore the park.

By Shuttle

The Zion Canyon Shuttle System is a free service that operates from early March through late November. The shuttle service transports visitors along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which is closed to private vehicles during the shuttle season. The shuttle stops at several points of interest, including the Zion Human History Museum, the Zion Lodge, and the Temple of Sinawava.

No ticket, permit, or reservation is needed to ride the park shuttle or enter Zion National Park. Visitors can board the shuttle at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center or any of the shuttle stops along the route. The shuttle is accessible for people with disabilities and bicycles are allowed on a space-available basis.

Whether you choose to arrive by shuttle or private vehicle, Zion National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty of the American Southwest.

Things to Do in Zion National Park

Zion National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With its breathtaking landscapes, diverse flora and fauna, and a range of activities, there is something for everyone. Here are some of the top things to do in Zion National Park.


Zion National Park is home to some of the most iconic hiking trails in the world. From the famous Angels Landing to the stunning Emerald Pools, there is a hike for every skill level. The Narrows is a must-see for anyone visiting Zion. This hike takes you through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, where you will wade through the Virgin River and marvel at the towering cliffs on either side. Observation Point and Hidden Canyon are also popular hiking trails that offer incredible views of the park.


Camping is a great way to experience the beauty of Zion National Park. The Watchman Campground is the most popular campground in the park, and reservations are recommended. There are also two other campgrounds in the park, South and Lava Point, which are first-come, first-served. If you’re looking for a more remote camping experience, backpacking is allowed in certain areas of the park. Kolob Canyon is a great place to go backpacking, with its stunning views and secluded campsites.

Rock Climbing

Zion National Park is a world-renowned destination for rock climbing. With its towering sandstone cliffs and challenging routes, it’s no wonder why climbers from all over the world come to Zion to test their skills. The West Rim Trail and Zion-Mount Carmel Highway are popular spots for climbers, with routes ranging from beginner to expert.

Wilderness Adventures

For those seeking a more adventurous experience, Zion National Park offers a range of wilderness adventures. Canyoneering is a popular activity that involves rappelling down waterfalls and navigating narrow slot canyons. The Subway is a popular canyoneering route in Zion, with its stunning natural arches and pools. Lava Point is also a great place to go on a wilderness adventure, with its remote location and incredible views.

Zion National Park is truly a one-of-a-kind destination. With its stunning landscapes, diverse activities, and incredible wildlife, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-time camper, Zion National Park is sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Visitor Information

If you’re planning a trip to Zion National Park, it’s important to know where to find visitor centers, museums, lodging, restaurants, and outfitters. Here’s a breakdown of the essential information you need to know:

Visitor Centers

Zion National Park has two visitor centers: one at the south entrance in Springdale and one at the north entrance in Kolob Canyons. The Springdale Visitor Center is open all year round, while the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center is open from May to October. Both visitor centers offer maps, brochures, and information on park activities, as well as a bookstore with souvenirs and educational materials.


Zion National Park has two museums: the Zion Human History Museum and the Court of the Patriarchs Museum. The Zion Human History Museum offers exhibits on the park’s human history, including Native American cultures and pioneer settlements. The Court of the Patriarchs Museum features exhibits on the geology of the park, including the towering sandstone peaks of the Court of the Patriarchs.


If you’re looking for a place to stay within the park, Zion Lodge is the only lodging option available. The lodge offers cabins and hotel rooms, as well as a restaurant and gift shop. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak season.


Zion Lodge Dining Room is the only restaurant within the park, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant features a variety of dishes, including vegetarian options, and is known for its stunning views of the surrounding cliffs.


If you’re looking to go on a guided tour or rent equipment, there are several outfitters located in Springdale. These outfitters offer a variety of services, including guided hikes, canyoneering, and rock climbing. Some outfitters also rent equipment, such as hiking poles and backpacks.

Zion National Park is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Utah. With its stunning natural beauty and rich human history, the park offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to hike, camp, or simply relax and take in the scenery, Zion National Park is the perfect place to do it.

Weather and Safety

When planning a trip to Zion National Park, it is important to consider the weather conditions and safety precautions to ensure an enjoyable experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Weather Conditions

Zion National Park is located in the desert, and temperatures can vary greatly depending on the time of day and elevation. During the summer months, temperatures can reach over 100°F (38°C) in the lower elevations, while higher elevations can be much cooler. In the winter, temperatures can drop below freezing and snow is common at higher elevations. It is important to check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.

Flash Flood Potential Forecast

Flash floods are a common occurrence in the desert, and can be especially dangerous in narrow canyons like those found in Zion National Park. The park provides daily flash flood potential forecasts, which are updated every morning. It is important to check the forecast before heading out on any hikes or canyoneering trips, and to be aware of the signs of an approaching flash flood. If you hear thunder or see dark clouds, seek higher ground immediately.


Zion National Park is a popular destination, especially during the summer months. To avoid crowds, it is best to visit the park during the off-season (November through February) or during the early morning or late afternoon. If you do visit during peak season, be prepared for large crowds and limited parking. The park provides a shuttle service that runs from early morning until late evening, which is a great way to avoid parking hassles and traffic.


Some activities in Zion National Park require permits, including canyoneering, overnight backpacking, and some backcountry camping. It is important to obtain the necessary permits before your trip, as they may be limited and can sell out quickly. Additionally, some hikes require permits for parking at trailheads, so it is important to plan ahead and check the park’s website for more information.

By keeping these weather and safety precautions in mind, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Zion National Park.

Planning Your Trip to Zion National Park

Planning a trip to Zion National Park can be an exciting experience. To ensure that you have a great time, it’s important to plan ahead. Here are some key things to consider when planning your trip to Zion National Park.


Getting a map of Zion National Park is essential for planning your trip. The park offers a variety of maps, including hiking maps, topographical maps, and road maps. You can download a map from the National Park Service website or pick one up at the park’s visitor center.

Shuttle Schedules

Zion National Park offers a free shuttle service that runs from early March to late November. The shuttle stops at all of the park’s major attractions, including the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, the Zion Lodge, and the Temple of Sinawava. The shuttle runs every 10 to 15 minutes during peak season and every 30 minutes during the off-season. You can find the shuttle schedule on the National Park Service website or at the park’s visitor center.


The National Park Service provides a variety of publications to help you plan your trip to Zion National Park. These publications include a park newspaper, a hiking guide, and a backcountry guide. You can download these publications from the National Park Service website or pick them up at the park’s visitor center.

When planning your trip, it’s important to check the current conditions of the park. The National Park Service website provides up-to-date information about the park’s weather, road conditions, and trail closures.

If English is not your first language, the National Park Service website offers information in several languages, including Spanish, French, and German. This can be helpful if you need assistance planning your trip or navigating the park.

Overall, planning a trip to Zion National Park can be a fun and rewarding experience. By taking the time to plan ahead and using the resources available to you, you can ensure that you have a great time exploring all that Zion has to offer.


Zion National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature, hiking, and outdoor adventures. Located in southwestern Utah, the park covers an area of 146,597 acres and attracts around 4.5 million visitors annually [1].

The park is known for its unique geography and diverse wildlife, which includes over 900 species of plants, 78 species of mammals, 291 species of birds, 44 species of reptiles, and 8 species of fish [2]. The park’s most famous feature is its monoliths, which are towering rock formations that rise up from the canyon floor. These monoliths are made of Navajo Sandstone, which is over 150 million years old [1].

If you’re planning a visit to Zion National Park, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, the park is part of the Colorado Plateau, which means that it experiences extreme temperatures and weather conditions. In the summer, temperatures can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the winter, they can drop below freezing [2].

Second, the park charges an entrance fee of $30 per vehicle, which is valid for seven days. However, if you plan on visiting multiple national parks in North America, you may want to consider purchasing an annual pass, which costs $80 and gives you access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites [1].

Finally, if you’re interested in the history of the park, you may want to visit the Zion Human History Museum, which tells the story of the park’s early inhabitants, including the Ancestral Puebloans, the Southern Paiute, and the Mormon pioneers [3].

In conclusion, Zion National Park is a beautiful and unique destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in hiking, wildlife, or history, you’re sure to find something to enjoy in this incredible park. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an adventure you’ll never forget!

[1] Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks/article/zion-national-park
[2] Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zion_National_Park
[3] Source: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/human-history-museum.htm

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to visit Zion National Park?

The best time to visit Zion National Park is during the spring and fall seasons, from March to May and September to November. During these months, the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller than in the summer months. However, it’s important to note that the park can still be busy during peak times, so plan accordingly.

What makes Zion National Park famous?

Zion National Park is famous for its stunning sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons, and scenic hiking trails. The park is home to some of the most iconic hikes in the United States, including Angels Landing and The Narrows. Zion is also known for its unique geology and diverse wildlife, including bighorn sheep, golden eagles, and black bears.

Do I need a reservation to enter Zion National Park?

Yes, a reservation is required to enter Zion National Park. The park has implemented a reservation system to manage visitor numbers and reduce congestion. Reservations can be made online in advance, and visitors are encouraged to book early to secure their spot.

What is there to do in Zion National Park?

Zion National Park offers a wide range of activities for visitors, including hiking, rock climbing, canyoneering, biking, and wildlife watching. The park also has a scenic drive, a shuttle system, and several visitor centers and museums.

What are some facts about Zion National Park?

Zion National Park was established in 1919 and covers over 146,000 acres. The park is located in southwestern Utah and is home to over 1,000 species of plants and animals. The highest point in the park is Horse Ranch Mountain, which stands at 8,726 feet. The park also has several historic sites, including the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel and the Zion Lodge.

Where is Zion National Park located?

Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah, near the town of Springdale. The park is about a 2.5-hour drive from Las Vegas and a 4-hour drive from Salt Lake City. The park is easily accessible by car, and there are several shuttle services available for visitors who prefer not to drive.