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Zion National Park is the most popular national park in Utah, as well as one of the most popular in the United States. From its towering red rock peaks to its challenging hiking trails to its vibrant wildlife and plant life, the park is a destination for outdoor enthusiasts, families, adventure seekers, and everyone in between.

Anyone can enjoy the incredible natural beauty that Zion is known for. But visiting for the first time can be a little overwhelming. The park has some unique rules and requirements that can be confusing to first time visitors. Its location in a remote part of Southern Utah can also make deciding where to stay during your visit more challenging. That’s why we’ve compiled this first-timer’s guide to visiting the park. 

Whether you’ve already booked a stay in one of Copper Rock Vacation Rentals’ properties or you’re just starting your search for the best Zion National Park vacation rentals, this guide will help you learn everything you need to know.

Where to Stay

The first thing you need to know for your first visit to Zion is where to stay. Zion National Park is located in Southern Utah, to the East of St. George, Utah. The closest town is Springdale, Utah. While this town has a number of hotels and Zion vacation rentals, this isn’t the best location for most visitors. Springdale has limited options for food, shopping, and entertainment. The town also gets very crowded, especially during the summer months, and traffic is a problem. While you may plan to spend a couple of days enjoying all that ZIon has to offer, if you want to explore the rest of Southern Utah, doing so from Springdale is limiting.

Staying in nearby St. George, Utah is a great alternative. When you stay in one of our beautiful Zion National Park vacation rentals, you’ll not only enjoy easy access to Zion but also to the rest of the region. Spend a day off-roading in Sand Hollow State Park, play a round of golf at Copper Rock Golf Course, visit the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site or Red Hills Desert Garden, and enjoy endless shopping and dining options in St. George during your stay. 

Navigating the Zion National Park Shuttle

After you’ve booked one of our Zion vacation rentals, the next thing you need to learn is how you’ll get around the park. While every national park is unique, Zion’s narrow Lower Canyon created a different kind of issue than any other park has experienced. Crowding in the canyon, coupled with a lack of parking, led the National Park Service to launch a shuttle service over two decades ago. 

The Zion Canyon Shuttle is the only way to get around Zion’s Lower Canyon for most of the year. From the beginning of March to the end of November each year, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive closes to personal vehicle traffic. This means that if you want to get to any point in the Lower Canyon, like the Zion Lodge or most of the park’s most popular trailheads, you’ll either need to walk or ride the Zion Canyon Shuttle.

This shuttle is free to ride and does not require a ticket or reservation. On busy days, lines may form at the shuttle stops, but the shuttles run continuously throughout the day, so you’ll likely never wait long for another one. The shuttles make nine stops throughout the Lower Canyon before looping back to make the same stops in reverse. It takes around 45 minutes for a shuttle to run its route in one direction, starting at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and ending at the Temple of Sinawava. The shuttle schedule changes throughout the year. You can check the hours for the dates of your visit here.

Pets are not allowed on the shuttle. You can bring a bike but will need to be able to load it onto the bike rack on the front of the shuttle on your own, and e-bikes are not allowed.

Parking and Entrance Fees

If you’re planning to ride the Zion Canyon Shuttle into the Lower Canyon, you’ll need to park your personal vehicle in the park or in Springdale. Limited parking is available at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. If the lot is full, you can park in one of the public lots in Springdale, and ride the free Springdale Shuttle to the entrance to the park.

You can still drive into Zion’s Upper Canyon any day of the year in your personal vehicle. This drive includes passing through the famous Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, an engineering marvel built in the 1920s that travels 1.1 miles through Zion Canyon.

Whether you enter the park on foot or in your car, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee. This fee is $35 for a personal vehicle with up to 15 passengers. If you’re entering on foot, you’ll pay $20 per person for anyone 16 or older. These entrance fees are good for seven consecutive days.

Another option is the America the Beautiful Pass, an annual pass that provides entry into any National Park Service site for one year. This pass costs $80 for most guests, and allows access to the park for one cardholder and up to three guests.

Hiking Angels Landing

One common bucket list item on many people’s Utah vacations is to hike Angels Landing. This famous trail in Zion is known for being challenging and dangerous. You’ll climb more than 1,500 feet on this five-mile hike, including a section of trail that has you traversing a narrow ridgeline with steep drops on either side, with only a chain handrail to help you keep your balance.

With any other trail in the park, you can simply show up and hike. But for Angels Landing, you’ll need a permit. Permits are available in one of two lotteries; the Seasonal Lottery, held four times a year and awarding permits for the following season, and the Day-Before Lottery, which provides permits for the following day.

Demand for permits is high, and entering the lottery doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get one. The best way to increase your odds is to book our Zion National Park vacation rentals early so that you can enter the Seasonal Lottery for the dates of your stay.

Planning Your Stay in Our Zion National Park Vacation Rentals

If you’re planning your first stay in our Zion National Park vacation rentals, or it’s been a while since you enjoyed a St. George vacation, this first-timer’s guide can help you plan the perfect stay. 

Ready to see for yourself what makes Zion such a popular destination? Copper Rock Vacation Rentals is the ultimate base camp for your stay. After a long day of hiking and enjoying the park, kick back and relax in luxury. Take a dip in your private pool, enjoy a homemade meal fresh off the grill, or simply sit on your private patio and take in the views of the night sky. Book your stay in our Zion vacation rentals today!