Things To Know Before Visiting Zion National Park
Heres everything you need to know when planning your Zion National Park itinerary.
- Arrive early to avoid long waits.
Zion is one of the most beloved and popular National Parks. So, no matter which way youre coming from and which entrance youll be accessing, you want to enter the park WELL BEFORE 9 am, otherwise youll be waiting for ages to get inside the park!
If you can, your best bet to avoid the crowds and hit the trails early is to camp within the park. Book a campsite well in advance and consider renting an RV to live your best glamping life! You dont actually need to buy an RV just rent one on RVShare.
- Make a plan for the heat.
When visiting Zion in the summer, the most unforgiving part other than some of the more palm-sweat-inducing hikes is the brutal heat, and I mean BRUTAL. Coming from Texas, I thought that handling a couple of extra degrees would be a cakewalk, but BOY was I seriously confused upon my arrival.
If youre visiting in the summer months, avoiding the midday heat is crucial. Like the shuttle service, this is also a blessing in disguise since midday is the most popular time of day for travelers to explore the park. How they didnt get the heat memo, I will never know, but aim to be up early, head back to the hotel by midday for a siesta, and then go out again later in the evening so that you can stay safe and hydrated and avoid feeling like a sardine in a frying pan.
- The neighboring town of Springdale is full of amenities and supplies.
Spend A Night Camping
With scenic, well-maintained campgrounds, camping is one of the best things to do in Zion National Park with kids. The park is home to two sizeable campgrounds, the South Campground and the Watchman Campground, and both are located on opposite ends of the visitor center located near the main entrance.
The South Campground has 117 sites , while the Watchman Campground has seven accessible sites . Travelers are required to pay a small fee to access the campgrounds.
For some Zion National Park RV camping, inquire at establishments like the Zion River Resort, which offers RV sites complete with full hookups, free WiFi, cable television, and picnic tables.
Check out RV rentals from RVshare if youre looking to bring your own RV!
Glamping in Zion National Park
Are you looking for a more sophisticated wilderness experience?
Accommodations like Under Canvas allow you glamorously camp in deluxe tents, complete with upscale amenities like on-site dining, organic bath products, and complimentary camp activities.
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Where To Stay In Zion National Park
While Zion National Park is one of the smaller national parks in the United States, its a must-visit destination for anyone who is in Utah or nearby. Its the perfect playground for adventurers, with hiking trails to rock climbing, mountain biking, and bouldering. And of course, for those who like to kick back and relax, there is the Emerald Pools, where you can sit and marvel at the glistening water.
There are plenty of places to stay in and around Zion National Park, depending on what youre looking to do while youre there. Some spots are ideal for those who are ready to rough it, but some are far more luxurious its all up to you. Here are some of our picks for your vacation accommodation:
- Luxury Springhill Suites by Marriott: located in Springdale, which is the most populated place to stay outside the park, known as the gateway to Zion National Park. Rooms have an urban feel and there are views of the park from the bedroom windows.
- Mid-Range Zion Glamping Adventures: located just outside of Hildale and near Zion National Park, this spot offers you the chance to sleep under the stars in complete comfort. Their luxury canvas tents all have real beds and warming heaters, and there is a barbecue area with picnic tables.
- Budget Econo Lodge Hurricane: a popular and affordable hotel in Hurricane, nearby to Zion National Park. There is a complimentary continental breakfast and free WiFi and parking for guests.
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Explore The Lower Emerald Pools
The Emerald Pools are pretty similar to Weeping Rock in a lot of waysthe Lower Emerald Pools feature a weeping wall and pools at the base.
The site is accessible via a half-mile round-trip paved trail, making it a great option even for those with mobility issues.
The trail also features several elevated walkways that provide stunning views of the area.
Hike The Angels Landing Trail In Zion
You cant go visit without doing one of the awesome Zion National Park hikes on offer. And Angels Landing is one of the best! Sure its a popular trail, its steep, quite long and the last section is incredibly narrow with very sharp drop-offs, but its awesome.
If youre a nervous hiker I dont recommend it but if youre okay with heights and physically fit then this will be one of the Zion hiking trails that youll remember for years to come.
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Let Angels Landing Take Your Breath Away
Following the shuttle stops back, number 6 is the Grotto and the place to get off for the popular Angels Landing hike. If you plan to hike to Angels Landing, arrive earlier to avoid significant crowding, especially along the last bit of narrow ledge rock scrambling.
At 2.7 miles of one-way steep, uphill walking and climbing, Angels Landing is more strenuous than not. Follow the series of switchbacks to weave your way up the mountain. My Angels Landing guide is dedicated solely to this hike, but its important to note here this hike is NOT for young children or anyone afraid of heights.
At its highest points, youll be rock scrambling on all fours to get to the top with a steep drop-off on either side of you. The hike and the accompanying views are absolutely spectacular, but all precautions must be taken. The risk is real so make sure you have the right gear.
ProTip: If you want to hike Angels Landing or another trail in Zion but would feel more comfortable with a guide, these experts can tailor a hiking experience thats just right for you.
Birding And Wildlife Watching
TripSavvy / Vince Fergus
Due to the four life-zones that are encased in the park, flora and fauna are abundant. More than 200 species of birds, 75 mammals, 19 bats, 32 reptiles and more than a 1,000 plant species can be spotted in Zion. The Peregrine falcon, the bald eagle, and the California condor are some of the birds nesting in their native habitat.
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Emerald Pools At The Subway
The Subway Hike is for the serious hiker/canyoneer-er only. This 9-mile hike is very strenuous. If you go from the bottom up, it can require route finding, creek crossing, and scrambling over boulders. If you choose to hike from the top down, it requires rappelling skills, 60 feet of rope, and extensive route finding experience. The route also requires swimming through several deep pools of very cold debris-filled water.
Permits are required to do this hike, and visitors are encouraged to have a detailed route description and travel with someone that has successfully completed the Subway in the past.
I hope this Things not to miss in Zion Canyon post helps! Be sure to check out all my other Zion National Park posts as well. Feel free to comment or with any questions!
Hike To Angels Landing
This hike definitely tops many adventure bucket lists.
Famous for its steep ascent to Angels Landing, this trail features switchbacks and sections of exposure, framed by sharp drop-offs.
Starting at The Grotto trailhead, the first 2 miles of the hike are enjoyable and well-paved.
Eventually, youll come to Walters Wiggles, a set of 21 steep switchbacks.
After completing the challenging switchbacks, youll find slight reprieve at Scout Lookout.
This is a good resting point with a bathroom and picnic tables, before you hike the final ascent to Angels Landing.
As you continue, the trail turns into a steep, narrow ridge with anchored chains to support your climb.
Your mind cant help but race, as you think about how one unfortunate slip could send you right off the edge of the cliff!
You keep climbing higher, until you eventually reach the large, flat peak of Angels Landing.
From there, you can gaze out into the canyon for stunning, 360º views from 1500 feet up.
In my opinion, the view from Canyon Overlook is actually just as picturesque.
But Angels Landing is largely about the journey!
Although this hike is not recommended for anyone fearful of heights, Im afraid of heights and accomplished it.
It was scary, but really incredible!
Due to its overwhelming popularity, hiking Angels Landing now requires a permit, which you must win through a lottery system.
Register for the lottery here:recreation.gov
Stop And Admire The Temple Of Sinawava
Located along the Virgin River, the Temple of Sinawava is another popular attraction in Zion National Park.
The Temple of Sinawava features a paved trail following the upstream Virgin River as the park’s hallmark.
The Temple of Sinawava features ever-narrowing canyons of Sandstone that lead to the Narrows.
The trail enjoys gorgeous frames of hanging gardens, waterfalls, and other natural features that make it a highlight of Zion National Park.
It’s an easy hike that takes you along the scenic view of the park along the Virgin River.
Looking For More Fun Things To Do At Zion National Park
Theres so much to do and enjoy while youre in the Zion National Park area. Some of it just happens to be just outside the parks boundaries. Not to worry, though! Zion National Parks beauty doesnt end at the parks exitfar from it!
Many national parks regulate the types of activities that can happen within the protected park area. This helps both the animals who live there and the parks visitors. But that doesnt mean you should miss out on the fun, unforgettable activities possible in the area. Ive listed a few below to help your Zion National Park planning.
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Hike Drive Or Bike Through The Scenic Zion Canyon
The Zion Canyon is the main attraction and the most dramatic section of Zion National Park.
Accessible through the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, this 15-mile road will take you through the best views that Zion National Park has to offer.
You’ll be able to see towering red cliffs, the Virgin River, and several other incredible rock formations.
The road is one-way and ends at the Temple of Sinawava, where you can start hiking the Riverside Walk to access the Narrows.
Or, if you’re feeling up for a challenge, you can continue to hike Angels Landing.
If you don’t want to do the drive, you can also bike or take the shuttle through the Zion Canyon.
Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds that can potentially ruin your experience.
Ultimate Zion Adventure: Angels Landing
*If you want to hike Angels Landing any time from September 1 to November 30, you need to apply for a permit through the Seasonal Lottery at the beginning of summer.
Much has been written about Angels Landing. One of the most famous hikes on the planet, its also one of the most dangerous. But dont let the landings reputation stop you if youre up for the challenge and confident in your skills.
If you are, the reward is unmatched. The journey begins on West Rim Trail, where youll traverse the Virgin Rivers path through Zion Canyon. Once you begin ascending up to Angels Landing, however, the trail becomes steep and fast. If you dont know what a switchback is, then Angels Landing may come as a shock-of-a-hike.
This is at least a half-day trip, too, so be sure to plan accordingly. To make it all the way to the top, youll be engaging in rock climbing using steel chain cables. Its a one-way route with possible waits, too, as people make their way out.
Above all, please be sure to wear hiking boots and do plenty of NPS safety research before attempting Angels Landing. One false step could mean death, as it has for dozens of hikers in the past.
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What To Do In Zion National Park In One Day
If you only have one day to spend in Zion National Park then I suggest you get up early and stay out late, youll want to spend as much time in the park as possible. Plus, getting there early means youre more likely to be able to park at the Zion National Park Visitor Centre and wont be competing with quite as many hoards of people.
For those with one day in Zion National Park, Id suggest doing a hike and riding the park shuttle bus along the scenic drive. The shuttle bus plays out some information as it travels and you can hop on and off at various stops along the way. In busier months its the only way to get from one end to the other as driving your own vehicle isnt allowed.
Check out the Zion attractions and top things to do to plan your Zion trip!
Spectacular Things To Do At Zion National Park
Have you decided to visit Zion National Park in Utah? Better yet
Are you ready to do some spectacular things at Zion National Park?
Arguably the absolute gem of the National Park system, Zion will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience!
The towering red rock, the evergreen trees, and the glittering Virgin River exquisitely come together to create one majestic and formidable landscape. With so many things to do at Zion National Park, itll be easy to please all ages and physical abilities. Youll just have to find the time to fit them all in!
So, grab your America the Beautiful Pass and lets go!
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Hop On Board The Zion Shuttle
Making exploring this vast natural beauty easy as pie, during the peak months of Zion National Park offers a free shuttle service that connects the Zion Canyon Visitor Center with a handful of locations on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, conveniently looping around the park and making 9 stops along the way.
After getting the lay of the land, hop on at the Visitor Center and make your way to one of the many trailheads, or plan your route around notable landmarks like the Emerald Pools, West Rim Trail, and Temple of Sinawava .
The shuttle operates regularly from March through November, during which it becomes one of the unmissable things to do in Zion National Park, before taking a break over the winter when fewer tourists are floating around.
Get A Birds Eye View Of Zion National Park From A Helicopter
For visitors who want to see as much of the colorful Zion National Park as possible in a short amount of time, theres no better way to do so than by taking to the skies and riding shotgun in a thrilling and informative helicopter tour.
Departing from multiple locations , these tours offer sweeping aerial views of Zions towering sandstone cliffs, green valleys, and iconic monoliths, soaring over landmarks like Crater Hill Volcano and Red Butte Mountain, all usually in the space of half an hour or less.
If youre looking to add on a bit of extra excitement, many tour companies also offer options to include a landing on top of a peak or even a quick hike down into the canyon itself.
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Take The Family Along The Riverside Walk
One of the easiest and most popular hikes in Zion National Park, this short, flat stroll takes you from the Temple of Sinawava to the banks of the Virgin River, following a paved path full of lush greenery thats great for all ages and abilities.
The 2-mile walk offers views of the river as it snakes its way through the canyon, as well as a handful of opportunities to take a dip in the refreshing waters .
If youre looking for something more strenuous, this is a great place to start before branching out onto one of the parks many other trails.
Hot tip: plan to visit the Riverside Walk just before dusk as the orange sunset bounces off the canyon walls, not only is the vista incredible, but its when youre most likely to see wildlife like mule deer come out to play.
Hit The Trails On A Day Hike:
Zion National Park has some excellent increases that range in duration from less than miles to multi-day hikes. Two of the most common increases in the neighborhood are Angels Landing and The Narrows. Angels Landing is an intense increase that increases to an amazing viewpoint looking over Zion Canyon. The pathway follows a filter variety with long fall-offs and is not for everyone and certainly not for anyone with a worry of levels. The Becomes smaller, by comparison, follows a flow through a large port canyon. This is a periodic increase that takes some planning if you want to deal with it. Some of the most popular increases neighborhoods are much easier, one mile or less in duration, and cause a variety of natural features, from small private pools to crying and moping surfaces. The Riverside Walk, Weeping Rock Trail, and Lower Emerald Pools trail are three of the main walking path. These are all utilized from the passenger bus and offer big benefits with little effort.
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