Your Guide to Visiting Zion National Park
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Situated in the southwestern corner of Utah near the Nevada and Arizona borders, Zion National Park is defined by the red canyon walls carved by the Virgin River. This desert oasis is considered one of the most scenic canyons in the United States, featuring high plateaus, a maze of sandstone canyons and waterfalls with colorful hanging gardens. Early native American tribes believed gods inhabited the canyon and that it was a sacred place. Today, the park serves as a nature preserve open to the public for hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, canyoneering, and more.
We just launched a trip to Zion National Park, and hosted a webinar sharing everything you need to know. You can watch it for free here! Below, we’ll be answering some of the FAQs we get about Zion National Park.
When’s the best time to visit Zion National Park?
Zion National Park peak months are from April to November when the park's free shuttles are running and the weather is comfortable. December through February constitutes the park's off season, and although there will be few crowds, some attractions, such as the Narrows and Angels Landing, will be too cold or icey to enjoy.
June, July and August are by far the park’s most popular months, with high temps and lots of people. In the spring, water runoff can make hiking difficult. Since Zion is a canyon, flash flooding is a real danger to consider. In our humble opinion, fall is the best time to visit National Park. You’ll experience fewer people, along with more pleasant midday temperatures.
What’s the closest airport to Zion National Park?
The closest major airport to Zion National Park is Los Vegas, which is two-and-half hours away. If you’re planning to just visit Zion National Park, the easier way is to fly into Las Vegas and rent a car. If you’re considering visiting other national parks in Utah, you can fly into Salt Lake City and drive four hours down to Zion National Park (while passing other great stops).
Where to stay in Zion National Park?
You have several options when it comes to staying in Zion National Park: camping, glamping, and lodging. Zion National Park has three campsites within the park - South, Watchman, and Lava Point - that you can reserve on Recreation.gov. Springdale, the nearest town, offers several glamping options for Zion, such as Under Canvas and Zion Wildflower. In that type of accommodation, you’ll have a full size bed inside a canvas tent with electricity. Lastly, Springdale has all sorts of lodging options from inns to motels to hotels. Psst: If you book with us, you won’t need to fret your accommodations!
What’s the Zion National Park Entrance Fee?
All park visitors are required to purchase a recreational use pass upon entering Zion National Park. You can purchase a weekly pass that’s valid for seven days for $35. A per person pass - if you’re entering the park on foot or via bike - is $20. If you plan on visiting multiple national parks in a year, consider the $80 America the Beautiful Pass. It will gain you and whoever is in your vehicle access into all national parks for the entire year.
How do I get a Zion National Park Shuttle Ticket?
A shuttle bus system has been put in place to manage traffic and parking problems within Zion Canyon, and no private vehicles are allowed up the main canyon road. The shuttles run every few minutes starting at the main visitor center, but they fill quickly, and you should be prepared to wait for an open spot on one. During COVID, the park stopped charging for shuttle tickets, so you can walk right on. You can check for any updates on tickets here.
What are the best things to do in Zion?
Zion has many incredible hikes - think Angel’s Landing, the Narrows, and Emerald Pools - but that’s not all there is to do in the park. What few people know about Zion is that it’s an amazing place for canyoneering, rock climbing, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Not all of this happens within the boundaries of the park, making these activities more secret gems of the area. If you have the skills to repel through slot canyons and climb on your own, power to you. Otherwise, there’s lots of amazing guided options from outfitters in town!
What do I need to hike the Narrows?
The Narrows is one of Zion’s most popular hikes! It’s unique element is that you will be walking in a river the entire way. To hike it, you’ll want a pair of closed toe shoes. You can also rent booties at Zion Outfitter, which is right next to the visitor center and shuttle stop one. People like to also bring a trekking pole to help them balance. You’ll want to wear quick dry clothing. The first section to the river is a paved walkway, meaning when you’re done - and wet - you’ll want clothes that won’t be soaking wet and chafe. If you’re planning to walk further than the first mile, we recommend also bringing a dry bag for your electronics and snacks.