Highlights: Towering red cliffs, a crashing river, emerald pools, wildlife, waterfalls, a hanging garden, deep chasms, and some of the most astounding slot canyons on the planet
What: Zion National Park, a southwest Utah nature preserve
Where: Located in Southern Utah on State Route 9 in Springdale, Utah
When: Opened 24/7 (see below for travel advisories and restrictions)
Why: Your soul needs this place
Let Zion National Park Take Your Breath Away
Begin your ascent to Southern Utah’s Zion National Park in La Verkin, Utah. This town (population about 4,500 depending on the season) is the first community in a surreal menagerie of perfect little places along the scenic State Route 9. La Verkin is in the southern portion of the state just northeast of St. George.
The 30-minute drive from La Verkin to Zion National Park on SR-9 will give you time to let your soul unwind. As you travel through the historic pioneer communities of Virgin and Rockville look for historic handmade red sandstone bricks. The glorious gardens in season along this route are worth the trip alone. If you time your visit right, you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables at makeshift stands along the roadside. Quaint yards, eclectic shops, and themed eateries are all part of the living Western experience. As you get closer to the park, you will notice a gradual increase in lodging options.
Springdale is just outside the park entrance. In the shadows of towering stone sculpted by the wind, this town is a hotspot for people of all ages!
When the weather is hot, Springdale is chill
Springdale, Utah, attracts a diverse range of people drawn to its natural beauty and serene atmosphere. Artists find inspiration in the breathtaking landscapes and vibrant colors there. The ever-changing light and stunning vistas make it an ideal setting for capturing the essence of nature.
Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts flock to Springdale because it’s close to Zion. With its extensive network of trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging climbs, hikers of all skill levels can experience a perfect adventure. The park’s majestic canyons, towering cliffs, and lush vegetation provide a backdrop for unforgettable outdoor experiences.
Healers and wellness enthusiasts are also drawn to Springdale. The tranquil surroundings, clean air, and soothing sound of the Virgin River create a peaceful atmosphere, ideal for relaxation, meditation, and rejuvenation. Some may even seek out holistic retreats or wellness centers that offer healing therapies, yoga, and other mindful practices.
Nature lovers find their paradise in Springdale. Whether it’s birdwatching, wildlife photography, or simply immersing themselves in the natural wonders, they appreciate the unspoiled beauty and abundant biodiversity that the area has to offer.
Bars, restaurants, and shops of all kinds create an electric vibe in this charming Southern Utah super haven.
When visiting Zion, please remember the American Indians who inhabited the territory long before pioneers arrived in the valley (many of whom came with or on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Evidence of the following tribes abounds in what many consider sacred ground: Hopi, Navajo, Northern Ute, Pueblo of Zuni, and the Southern Paiutes.
What is the best time to visit Zion?
Spring and fall are the two best seasons to visit the park. It is soul-stirring at any time of the year, but there are some advantages to spring and fall.
Spring brings wildflowers and ravishing new greenery and the wildlife includes the year’s new babies.
Early in the season, traffic tends to be a little lighter. Nearly 4.5 million visitors use the park each year so there’s plenty of activity year-round.
In the fall, the air is crisp, the foliage is a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors, and the summer crowds have hightailed it outta there. You can enjoy those jaw-dropping views without elbowing your way through a sea of selfie sticks.
Summers are hot! The temperature range for the entire year is 28°F to 98°F. Many do visit the park, but it’s a good idea to start moving very early in the morning.
Winters at Zion are peaceful and beautiful, but trails tend to be icy. The weather is unpredictable so consistently check for park advisories.
Behold the Zion National Park Shuttle
No one (ever) claims waiting in long lines is their favorite national park activity. Because the park can get very crowded, arrive as early in the morning as possible. Better yet, park and camp near the Visitor’s Center to take full advantage of the wonder that is the Zion Shuttle.
The shuttle features two lines. One moves within the park, and the other moves people through Springdale.
From March to November, private vehicles can only access a portion of the park and only when the shuttle is not in operation.
The heart of the park is only accessible by shuttle.
The schedule is adjusted frequently from year to year. Following is an example of the 2023 schedule:
How much does it cost to get into Zion?
Following is some basic information about park fees. The shuttle is free to ride but all riders must have a park pass.
Standard Entrance Pass
Admits private, non-commercial vehicle (15 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants to Zion National Park.
Admits one, non-commercial motorcycle to Zion National Park.
Admits one individual with no car to Zion National Park. Typically used for bicyclists, hikers and pedestrians. Youth 15 and under are admitted free.
Per Person (individual entrance)
Admits one individual with no car to Zion National Park. Typically used for bicyclists, hikers, and pedestrians. Youth 15 and under are admitted free.
2023 Fee-free Days
No entrance pass is required on these days:
Monday, January 16 — Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Saturday, April 22 — First Day of National Park Week
Friday, August 4 — The Great American Outdoors Act
Saturday, September 23 — National Public Lands Day
Saturday, November 11 — Veterans Day
Special passes and group rates are also available! Please visit the National Park Service website for more information.
10 popular hikes in Zion National Park
- Angel’s Landing: This iconic trail is known for its exhilarating ascent and breathtaking views from the summit. Be prepared for some thrilling sections along narrow ridges and sheer drop-offs.
- The Narrows: Hiking through the Virgin River, surrounded by towering canyon walls, is an unforgettable experience. It’s a unique adventure where you wade through water, navigating the stunning slot canyon.
- Emerald Pools: This family-friendly hike offers a series of pools and waterfalls, providing a refreshing escape on hot days. The trail has three levels—lower, middle, and upper—and each offers its own beauty.
- Observation Point: This challenging but rewarding hike takes you to a stunning viewpoint overlooking Zion Canyon. It offers panoramic vistas and is a less crowded alternative to Angel’s Landing.
- Hidden Canyon: A moderate trail that leads to a secluded canyon with narrow passages and hanging gardens. It’s a fantastic blend of thrilling sections and serene beauty.
- Weeping Rock: A short and easy hike that leads to a unique rock alcove, where water seeps from the sandstone creating a “weeping” effect. It’s a great introduction to Zion’s natural wonders.
- Canyon Overlook: Located on the east side of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, this short hike rewards you with a breathtaking view of Zion Canyon. It’s perfect for a quick stop or a sunset excursion.
- The Subway: This challenging and permit-only hike takes you through a spectacular slot canyon with waterfalls and pools. It requires technical skills, so it’s recommended for experienced hikers.
- West Rim Trail: A longer backpacking trail that spans approximately 16 miles, offering diverse landscapes and stunning vistas. It’s a multi-day adventure for those seeking an immersive Zion experience.
- Riverside Walk: A leisurely stroll along the Virgin River, this paved trail is accessible to all and leads to the entrance of The Narrows. It’s a great option for those who want to enjoy the beauty of Zion without strenuous hiking.
These ten hikes offer a range of difficulty levels and showcase the incredible beauty of Zion National Park, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.