Despite the crowds, Zion National Park is pretty on the eyes and easily explored in a day or two. The stunning desert oasis of Zion Canyon takes most if not all attention, but road trips to remote sections offer relief from the congestion.
Zion Canyon: Marvel at Zion’s star attraction from magnificent vistas on the canyon floor and above. Its reddish sandstone walls tower beyond 2,500 feet above the Virgin River, eroded to perfection by nature’s finest artists.
Compact and Accessible: Zion is relatively compact in comparison with other national parks. It also offers many opportunities for every visitor type to enjoy the incredible natural beauty.
Hiking Opportunities: From the famous Zion Narrows to breathtaking Angel’s Landing, Zion offers plenty of ways to explore its beauty on foot, with easy trails on the canyon floor and challenging hikes to its rim.
The best time to visit Zion National Park is during spring and fall.
Winter: cold weather, snow, and rain keep the crowds away. Access to the park’s higher elevation and some trails might be restricted. This is a unique time to visit Zion if you enjoy winter desert scenery, detest crowds, and aren’t planning action-packed days.
Spring: wildflowers are blooming, especially during May, but the melting snow could put a damper on plans to hike the Narrows. Park shuttles are back in operation and starting in March, visitor numbers begin to spike.
Summer: it’s hot but the days are long, so a lot can be covered, though frequent late-afternoon thunderstorms could shorten the day. Be prepared to share the space with hoards of other visitors.
Fall: the days are still long and the temperature is pleasant, though with varying degrees between elevations. Fall colors can be seen along Kolob Terrace Road and by late fall inside the canyon. Though it’s still busy inside the park in early fall, you’ll have more space to yourself as winter approaches.
Zion National Park, especially Zion Canyon, is not very large but there is a lot to see. By spending at the very least one night in the area, you’ll have a full day to explore Zion Canyon.
A Day trip or a one-day visit should be enough for a rapid visit of the major viewpoints along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, plus perhaps a short hike. On a Two-day visit, you can comfortably cover all the significant highlights inside the canyon and one or two hikes. On a three-day visit, you can fully explore Zion Canyon, including hiking to viewpoints on its rim, plus one day to explore the Kolob region of the national park.
Inside the park: the Zion Lodge is the only place to stay inside Zion Canyon. Even during shuttle season, when cars cannot drive on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, lodge guests receive a special pass and can park their car at the lodge.
Outside the park: sleeping in Springdale is the most convenient option if not staying at the Zion Lodge. The park’s free shuttle operates a dedicated line that travels between the edge of Springdale and the visitor center. Though accommodation prices are slightly higher, using the free shuttle eliminates paying for parking. Beyond Springdale, the best options are at La Verkin and Hurricane. Both towns are only about 30 minutes away from Zion Canyon.
Camping: the Watchman and South Campgrounds are Zion Canyon’s campsites. A third campsite is at distant Lava Point along Kolob Terrace Road.
Most visitors devote most if not all of their time to exploring Zion Canyon, the park’s main highlight and natural feature. Using the free shuttles, visit viewpoints and hike to interesting spots along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. A detour on the scenic Zion-Mount Carmel Highway unlocks additional highlights, and a longer road trip in the Kolob Region is the best way to get away from the crowds. Here’s a guide to the top 10 things to do in Zion.