Zion National Park is Utah’s first national park and one of the most famous in the country. It is easy to access and is notably user-friendly, attracting approximately four million visitors each year. From hiking on the popular Angels Landing trail to wading the majestic Narrows that leads to the sparkling Virgin River, there is so much to see and do at Zion.
If you are visiting the Grand Canyon North Rim, Zion is just two hours north and worth a visit. While the North Rim is only open seasonally, Utah’s natural gem is open year-round. Nevertheless, there are certain times of the year to see the red-rock wonderland at its best.. Below you will find everything you need to know about visiting the marvel, from hours and fees to hotels near Zion National Park.
Where is Zion National Park located?
Zion National Park is located in the southwest corner of Utah near the small, quaint community of Springdale. It is conveniently situated two hours away from the Grand Canyon North Rim, three hours from Las Vegas and five hours from Salt Lake City. Many road trippers also make their way from Southern California in a six- to seven-hour drive.
Best Times to Visit Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a summer hotspot, so overcrowding is expected during these months. The busiest months are from March to October, and parking lots can full by 10 a.m. during this time of year.
You can beat the traffic by waking up early and taking advantage of the free Zion shuttle buses that run from April to October. The water levels in the canyons tend to be higher in the spring. Therefore, you may think twice about visiting during this time if you plan on doing some serious hiking. Summer temperatures at Zion National Park can reach as high as 100 degrees, which can also make it difficult to enjoy your hike.
Fall has lower water levels and cooler temperatures that make hiking safer and more enjoyable. The colors of the leaves are also more vibrant and the most beautiful in late October. If you are looking for some peace and solitude, then layer up for the cooler temperatures and visit during the less crowded off season. However, keep in mind that some Zion National Park trails, like Riverside Walk and Weeping Rock, are closed during this time.
Zion National Park Hours and Fees
Zion National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, some services and facilities may reduce their hours or close during certain times of the year. During the spring and fall, the Zion Canyon Visitor Center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is open until 8 p.m. in the summer and closes earlier at 5 p.m. in the winter.
The entrance fee allows access to the park for seven consecutive days. The fees are as follows:
- Private vehicles must pay $35 for entry,
- motorcycles are required to pay $30 and
- each person entering on foot or bicycle must pay $20.
Those younger than 15 years of age can have their Zion National Park entrance fee waived. There are also annual passes available, including free ones available for 4th graders and military members.
Hotels Near Zion National Park
There are plenty of hotels near Zion National Park located in Springdale, Utah. Some are more suited for the rugged and adventurous travelers, while others provide more upscale amenities for those looking for luxury. Zion Ponderosa is a 4,000 acre ranch resort located just 10 minutes from the east gate entrance.
Accommodations include vacation home rentals, cabin suites, tent camping and glamping. The resort is also home to a two-tiered swimming pool and fine dining restaurant. If you are looking for Zion National Park cabins, there are plenty of private cabins available at Zion Mountain Ranch.
For a gorgeous suite or comfortable studio, consider booking a luxurious room at Cable Mountain Lodge. Many of these suites come equipped with personal fireplaces, jetted soaker tubs and premium bedding. Looking for a hotel with a view? Consider a grand view villa or riverside suite offered at the Cliffrose.
Other hotels offering great value for your money include SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Flanigan’s Inn and Driftwood Lodge. If you are wondering where to stay in Zion National Park, look no further than Zion Lodge nestled in the heart of the national park. An oasis of serenity and every hiker’s dream, there are plenty of cabins, hotel rooms, suites and accessible rooms for you to come home to after an adventure-filled day.
Zion National Park Camping
You can wake up to the uninterrupted beauty of the towering, jagged cliffs and umber-colored canyons by camping at the park. Zion National Park camping provides an experience like no other, allowing you to become one with nature. It also means you don’t have to deal with the long line up to get into the park early in the morning.
Fortunately, there are three campgrounds located in Zion National Park. You can find the South and Watchman campgrounds located in Zion Canyon. The Lava Point campground, on the other hand, is located on Kolob Terrace road, which is about an hour away.
Note: You must make reservations well in advance to guarantee a camping spot.
Things to do in Zion National Park
Zion National Park is every adventure seeker’s dream. From the tall, vermillion walls and pristine emerald pools to the enchanting evergreen trees, this park is nothing short of extraordinary. There is plenty to see and do at this impressive park, including hiking trails, scenic drives and canyon overlooks. Some of the top things to do include the following:
- Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway: For sweeping views of Zion, take this 10-mile scenic route from Zion’s main canyon to Mount Carmel. As you hug the curves of the road and descend into steep switchbacks, you will discover hoodoos, hilltops, mounds and exquisite rock formations.
- Zion National Park Visitor Center: This is an excellent place to purchase books and mementos, as well as obtain maps and brochures to help you enjoy your visit.
- The Narrows: The Narrows at Zion National Park is the slimmest section of the canyon and one of the most legendary hikes. The slot canyon closes in to form a narrow canyon that towers over you as the Virgin River flows around you.
- Canyon Overlook Trail: If you are looking for easy Zion National Park trails, then the Canyon Overlook Trail is your best bet. Not only is it one of the easiest trails, but the most photographed due to its picturesque views.
- Observation Point: Get a bird’s-eye view of the park’s top attractions from 6,521 feet above. This is one of the more strenuous Zion National Park hikes and also one of the most beautiful.
- Weeping Rock: Gaze at the majestic garden that hangs from the cliff wall of this dripping stone overhang. Depending on the season, the water that falls from the rock can range from a few sprinkles to a full waterfall.
- Canyon trail rides: Explore the natural wonderland on the back of a horse. There are plenty of vendors providing horseback rides and Zion National Park tours, including Jacobs Ranch and Cowboy Camp.
- Human History Museum: Learn about the cultural history of the park, including American Indian culture and pioneer settlements.
- Angel’s Landing: You should definitely cross this hike off your bucket list. It is one of the most thrilling hikes in the country, taking people to heights of 1,488 feet. It is very strenuous and contains sheer drop-offs and steep switchbacks, so proceed with caution.
In addition to the activities mention above, there are also opportunities to go biking, climbing and sky diving at Zion National Park. Visitors can enjoy water sports, helicopter rides and ATV tours. There are educational guided tours and exhilarating adventure tours for every type of traveler.