Zion National Park: An expert’s guide to beloved Utah

Zion National Park: An expert’s guide to beloved Utah

  • Travel
  • January 25, 2023
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Additionally, summer is when most visitors flock to Zion National Park. It’s hardly surprising, given that the kids aren’t in school, the high-elevation trails are snow-free, and it’s a great time to take a week-long trip through Utah’s many natural wonders. However, summer temperatures in the main canyon typically hover around 100 degrees, and flash flooding during the monsoon months (July through September) can make hiking The Narrows, a very popular hike through the thinnest section of Zion Canyon, impossible.

Winter is Zion’s quietest time of year and a great time to visit if you’re looking for solitude or hoping to drive the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive (a free shuttle is required March through November) and snap some photos of the famous vermilion bluffs They’re dusted with fresh white powder.

How do I get to Zion National Park?

The closest major airport to Zion National Park is Harry Reid International in Las Vegas which is 167 miles from the main entrance. There is also a small regional airport in St. George, Utah with limited Delta, American and United flights dropping you just 47 miles from the park. Either way, most visitors will rent a car to cover the remaining miles and flexibly explore Zion’s diverse neighborhoods, lodgings, and restaurants. As such, it’s common to explore some national parks (like Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon) or even some of Utah’s top state parks in a larger road trip style.

Zion National Park’s free shuttles

Joe Borek/Unsplash

The Narrows

Treasure Photo/Getty

Activities in Zion National Park

hiking and backpacking

Aside from just seeing the canyon in person, hiking and backpacking are the main attractions in Zion. Famous trails like the adrenaline-pumping Angels Landing now require a timed entry permit to hike (which can be avoided by booking a guided day hike), but there are plenty of other scenic trails through bright orange rock formations that any visitor can hop on. The Canyon Overlook Trail on the east side of the park is a short, rewarding hike with phenomenal views and photo ops along its easy 1-mile route. If you want to cover big miles and escape the main crowds of the canyon, then a day or day trip along the La Verkin Creek Trail should be top of your list.

Scenic drives

Private vehicles are only permitted along the famed Zion Canyon Scenic Drive from December through February (a free shuttle is required during the other months), but there are a plethora of alternative scenic drives through the tangled pinyon pines and striped cliffs that make the area so popular is famous . Just east of Zion’s main canyon, drivers can meander along Highway 9 to Mt. Carmel Junction, past prominent tangerine plateaus and the unique, hatched texture of the mighty Checkerboard Mesa. Another postcard-inspiring vista is found an hour north of Springdale along the less-traveled road through the Kolob Canyons, known for epic hiking trails and bright red cliffs without the crowds.

To go biking

Because private vehicle access to Zion Canyon is prohibited spring through fall (creating a safe and car-free scenic route), many visitors choose to bike into the park, and a bevy of friendly Zion bike rentals is in the area Proximity emerged to meet the growing demand. Zion Cycles and Zion Peddler rent road bikes and e-bikes in the town of Springdale, but if you’re looking for car rentals in the park, the historic Zion Lodge might be the place for you. Remember: Bikes are allowed on park roads but not on trails — with the exception of the paved Par’rus Trail.

Guided excursions

Not everyone wants to venture into the desert wilderness alone, and due to Zion’s popularity, there are dozens of outstanding guided tours and day hikes designed for the adventurous traveler.

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