Straddling the border of Utah and Arizona, Zion National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. The park is known for its dramatic landscape. It features the rushing Virgin River flowing Emerald Pools, towering sandstone walls, the chiseled red cliff, the scenic canyon drive, and some lush greenery areas.
With its proximity to Las Vegas, Zion National Park is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. The park receives more than three million visitors each year.
To help you make the most of your experience, here is the ultimate guide of Zion National Park, when to visit, what you should come along with, where to find food, and things you have to do during your visit.
When to Visit
The best time to visit Zion National Park is during the spring or fall when the weather is mild. The park can be quite hot and crowded in the summer, and it’s also prone to flash flooding during the monsoon season. However, winter can be quite cold, and snow may cover some of the park’s trails.
What to Bring
You should bring a few things with you when you visit Zion National Park. First and foremost, you’ll need comfortable shoes for hiking. The park has many trails of varying difficulty levels, so you’ll want to be prepared. You should also bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water.
Suppose you’re planning on doing any photography while in the park, make sure to bring your camera and extra batteries. The park is full of photo-worthy scenery.
Finally, don’t forget to pack a map of the park. The trails can be confusing, and it’s easy to get lost.
Zion National Park has a few different entrance fees depending on how you plan on visiting the park. If you’re planning on driving into the park, it will cost $35 per car. If you’re coming in on a bike, or motorcycle, it will cost $30 and $20 per person. And if you’re planning to visit for an entire year, an annual pass is available for $70.
Hiking Trails Available
Many different hiking trails are available in Zion National Park, ranging from easy to strenuous. Some of the most popular trails include the Riverside Walk, an easy trail that follows the Virgin River; Angel’s Landing, a strenuous hike that culminates with a spectacular view; and The Narrows, a hike that takes you through a narrow slot canyon.
For a complete list of hiking trails in Zion National Park, be sure to check out the park’s website.
Camping in Zion National Park
Zion National Park offers both primitive and developed camping areas. The primitive camping areas are for those who want to backpack and hike into the park. The developed camping areas are more accessible and include showers, toilets, and electrical hookups.
Where to Eat
There are a few different places to eat inside Zion National Park. The most popular place is the Zion Lodge, which offers sit-down and buffet-style dining. There are also a few cafes and snack bars located throughout the park.
If you’re looking for a more substantial meal, there are a few restaurants in the nearby town of Springdale.
The Must-See Sights in Zion National Park
Among the most popular attractions include:
1. The Human History Museum
The Human History Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in the park’s history. It covers the Native American tribes who once lived in the area and early settlers and pioneers.
Here, you will learn about the park’s creation and how it has evolved over the years. The museum is located in the park’s Visitor Center outside the south entrance.
2. Viewing the Stars at Sunset Point
The stars at night are a must-see in Zion National Park. For the best views, head to Sunset Point. They are more visible here than in any other place in the US since there is no light pollution. Also, there’s the installation of night-friendly lighting on buildings to prevent throwing light upward.
3. Checkerboard Mesa
Checkerboard Mesa is an iconic rock formation in Zion National Park. It’s easily recognizable thanks to its unique black and white stripes. The best views of Checkerboard Mesa are from the trail that leads to it. These include the Weeping Rock Trail and the Observation Point Trail.
4. Lava Point
Lava Point is located in the northwest corner of Zion National Park. It offers panoramic views of the park and its many rock formations. To get to Lava Point, take the Scenic Drive to the end of the road. From there, it’s a short hike to the viewpoint.
5. The Riverside Walk
The Riverside Walk is an easy, paved trail that follows the Virgin River. The trail can be accessed from the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop. You will enjoy the hanging gardens and lush vegetation along the trail. The Riverside Walk is a great option for those who want to experience Zion National Park without undertaking a strenuous hike.
The walk ends at the Narrows, a narrow slot canyon explored by wading or swimming.
6. The Narrows
The Narrows is one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park. The hike takes you through a narrow slot canyon carved by the Virgin River. The canyon is only a few feet wide in places, so be prepared for some tight squeezes.
The hike can be done as an out-and-back or as a loop. The loop requires a permit to obtain at the Visitor Center.
7. Angel’s Landing
Angel’s Landing is one of the most popular and strenuous hikes in Zion National Park. The hike culminates with a spectacular view from the top of Angel’s Landing. Be prepared for a steep and strenuous hike, as well as some exposure to heights.
A permit is required to hike to the top of Angel’s Landing.
8. The Emerald Pools
The Emerald Pools are a series of three pools located in Zion National Park. You can access the lower and middle pools via an easy hike from the trailhead. The upper pool is only accessible via a strenuous hike.
9. Canyon Overlook Trail
The Canyon Overlook Trail is a short, easy hike with spectacular views of Zion Canyon. The trailhead is located just off the Scenic Drive. From the trailhead, it’s a short hike to the viewpoint.
10. Mount Carmel Highway
The Mount Carmel Highway is the main road that runs through Zion National Park. The highway offers stunning views of Zion Canyon and the surrounding area. It is also the starting point for many of its popular hikes.
To Drive or To Hike?
One of the great things about Zion National Park is that everyone has options. If you don’t feel like hiking, you can always drive to the best viewpoints and take in the views from your car. However, if you’re up for a challenge, there are plenty of strenuous hikes to choose from. So no matter what your ability or fitness level is, Zion National Park has something for you.
Planning Your Trip
Now that you know what to see and do in Zion National Park, it’s time to start planning your trip. The best time to visit the park is in the spring or fall when the weather is milder. However, the park is open year-round.
Also, if you’re planning on hiking The Narrows, be sure to check the weather forecast in advance. The canyon can flood quickly and is dangerous to hike in when the water is high.
Ensure you have the proper gear for your hike and don’t forget to pack plenty of water. Zion National Park is a beautiful place, and with a little planning, you’re sure to have a great time.
FAQs about Zion National Park
- What is the best time of year to visit Zion National Park?
- The best time of year to visit Zion National Park is in the spring or fall when the weather is milder. However, the park is open year-round.
- How many days should I spend in Zion National Park?
- How long you spend in Zion National Park depends on your interests and how much time you have. You could easily spend a week in the park if you want to hike. However, if you’re looking to see the main attractions, two or three days would suffice.
- Must I hike to see the best views in Zion National Park?
- No, you don’t have to hike to see the best views in Zion National Park. There are plenty of great viewpoints that can be reached by car. However, if you’re up for a challenge, there are plenty of strenuous hikes to choose from.
To Sum It Up
Zion National Park is a beautiful and diverse park that offers something for everyone. It is a great place to hike, take in the views, and explore. When planning your trip, be sure to check out the park’s website for more information. You can also find helpful information on the park’s official Facebook page.
While you’re planning your trip, don’t forget to obtain a permit if you plan on hiking to the top of Angel’s Landing. So start planning your trip today and experience all that Zion National Park has to offer.