Complete Travel Guide for planning a trip to Zion National Park
There are 63 National Parks in the United States and Zion National Park is easily one of the best parks to visit. Located in Southwest Utah, Zion National Park is offers breathtaking views, unforgettable hikes, and plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy. Below is a compiled and complete travel guide to help you plan your unforgettable trip to Zion National Park.
ABOUT ZION NATIONAL PARK
With nearly 150,000 acres, Zion is the 36th largest US National Park by Size but packed with some of the best views and hikes in the entire country making it a Top 5 Visited National Park.. The park sees nearly 5 million visitors annually and can be very crowded in the warmer months and weekends. To help facilitate traffic and crowds, the Park has a Shuttle System in the peak spring and summer months as well has implemented permits on their most popular hike to ease congestion and help with safety of visitors.
GETTING TO ZION NATIONAL PARK
Zion National Park is located in Springdale, Utah and driving distance from many major cities. If you are coming from far away, the best way to get to Zion is by flying in to Las Vegas International Airport and drive 2.5 hours East. The park is about 4.5 hours from Salt Lake City and 6 hours from Phoenix.
PLACES TO STAY IN ZION NATIONAL PARK
The town of Springdale is just outside of the main Park Entrance and has plenty of Hotel Accomodations walking distance to the park entrance.
Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton
Springhill Hill Suites by Marriott
Hampton Inn & Suites
Cable Mountain Lodge
Zion National Park Lodge (the only hotel INSIDE the park)
You can also find more accommodations in St. George, Utah which is about an hour West from the park entrance and a great hub for visiting Southwest Utah.
Additionally, there are many options for camping in Zion. Undercanvas provides a great glamping experience with a higher price tag while not being inside the park. There are many BLM free camp grounds a short drive away as well. If you are looking for a true camping experience in the park, there are three campgrounds;
Lava Point Campground
NOTE: you need to obtain a permit ahead of time to secure your campsite!
ZION SHUTTLE SYSTEM
There are 9 shuttle stops in the park which will bring you to the start of many of the most popular hikes. There are other roads that you can drive on year round which will bring you to other vista points and hikes.
Shuttle Stop 1 is the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and Park Entrance. You will want to get here early as the line will start forming very early for those who want to beat the crowds on the most popular trails.
PRO TIP: rent a bike, or better yet, rent an E Bike and skip the Shuttles. Bikes are allowed in the Canyon Valley and you can get in before the shuttles start to beat the crowds!
There are 9 total Shuttle Stops that will bring you to the end of the Canyon where you will find the Temple of Sinawava and the start of one of the most popular trails, The Narrows!
BEST SIGHTS & HIKES IN ZION NATIONAL PARK
The Watchman is one of the best and first views as you enter the park and is right before the start of the Shuttle Loop. You can walk here along the Par’us Trail from the Park Entrance and enjoy beautiful views of the mountains and river.
The Narrows: is easily one of the most iconic hikes in Zion and the entire Park System. Hike through a flowing river with granite walls on either side.. The start of the hike is very crowded but you can continue forward through the beautiful waters further in to the canyon. The deeper you get the better. The walls will become steeper, the path will get narrower, and the crowd will dissipate. You can hike up to 16 miles!
Pro Tip: Bring a hiking stick and waterproof boots. Neoprene socks are a great addition as well as the water can be deep in some areas. The park is prone to flash flooding in the summer months so this area can be very dangerous at times! Exercise extreme caution.
Angels Landing: is easily one of the most memorable and famous hikes in the park. The hike is 5 miles round trip with the first portion being a paved path with several switchbacks. The second part of the hike is known as the Chains which is now a permit required hike. Due to the popularity of this hike, the trail became overcrowded and became a safety risk. The hike is not for those who are afraid of heights as you will be climbing a strong elevation with steep drops on either side! Push through as the views at the top are unforgettable and this is one of the best experiences!
Canyon Overlook: is a rather easy hike and doesn’t require access from the Zion Shuttle. However, parking is limited so plan accordingly! You will drive through the Zion Tunnel and arrive at the trailhead. The trail is rather short and brings you to beautiful views of the valley floor.
Pro Tip: This is one of the best hikes for sunset but get here early to grab a parking spot!
Other Great Hikes:
The Subway: a difficult 8 mile hike but brings you to beautiful rock formations that resemble a subway tunnel
Observation Point: 7 mile hike which brings you high up with unforgettable views of the valley (Currently Closed due to weather damage)
Emerald Pool Trails: easy hikes with beautiful waterfalls and pools in the Spring
NON HIKING ACTIVITIES TO DO IN ZION NATIONAL PARK
Star Gazing is hard to beat here as you are very far from light pollution and the tall canyon walls block out even more light. Plan a trip during a new moon and between March-September months to enjoy the Milkyway Galaxy above!
Helicopter tour is an unforgettable experience. Book a helicopter tour of Zion and enjoy unparalleled views of the canyon below.
Horseback the trails and enjoy some of the longer hikes while enjoying the majestic animals.
Bike / E-Bike is the best way to see the park as you can skip the lines and experience the valley floor even closer and on your own time
THINGS TO BRING
**Best way to capture content is a head mounted go pro
Zion National Park is a beautiful place to visit but you can also pair it with nearby unforgettable destinations like:
Bryce Canyon National Parks