Zion National Park Travel Guide

Zion National Park is one of the most incredible Utah parks. The main part of the park is Zion Canyon, and unlike most canyons, it is the canyon floor, rather than the rim, that is the main place to visit. The surrounding area is riddled with narrow slot canyons, which make for unique hikes and epic experiences canyoneering for the more adventurous.  

When you visit Zion National Park, you can spend the time on the flat canyon floor surrounding by incredible red rock views, or embark on some of the most unique hikes in the country. There is a reason that Zion is the best national parks in the United States

However, planning a trip to Zion National Park can be tricky.  The park is incredibly popular and can get crowded.  Use this guide to visiting Zion National Park to get all the information you need to have an amazing Zion trip. 

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Zion National Park Travel Guide

Zion National Park at a Glance

  • State: Utah 
  • Main attractions: Canyon, slot canyons, views, hikes 
  • Fun Facts:  
    • It started life as Mukuntuweap National Monument (established 1909).  It was promoted to a National Park and its name changed to Zion in 1929. 
    • Angels Landing is considered one of the world’s most dangerous hikes, but it isn’t actually the deadliest hike in Zion.  That (dubious) honor goes to the Emerald Pools Trails – mostly from people venturing beyond the chained off areas and slipping on the wet rock. 
    • America’s second longest freestanding arch is in Zion.  Kolob Arch in the Kolob Canyons areas of the park is second only to Landscape Arch in Arches National Park in length.  

Itineraries for Zion National Park

Get a one-day, two-day or three-day detailed itinerary for Zion National Park here.

EXCLUSIVE BONUS CONTENT WITH ZION NATIONAL PARK ITINERARIES


Zion National Park Guide

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How to Plan a Trip to Zion National Park  

Planning trip to Zion National Park can be overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be.  Use this Zion National Park visitors guide for all your Zion National Park trip planning.  Click on the links below to go to detailed guides and get answers to your questions.  

The best option to take away the overwhelm is to pick up a detailed itinerary. I have done all the heavy lifting for you. Choose from one, two or three days. Each itinerary is crammed with detailed driving and hiking maps and hour-by-hour suggestions of what to do and where to go to avoid spending your precious vacation time waiting in lines or competing with crowds on the trails.   

Get a 1-day, 2-day, or 3-day itinerary for Zion National Park here 

Planning a Trip to Zion National Park

Make your planning easier with this step-by-step guide to all you need to think about and do when planning a trip to Zion.

Read More: HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO ZION

Angels Landing - header

There is a reservation system for the iconic Angels Landing hike most of the year. This guide breaks it all down for you. 

Read More: HOW TO GET ANGELS LANDING PERMITS

How to Visit Zion Without Shuttle Tickets

To access the main part of Zion Canyon, you need to take a (free) shuttle most of the year. But it’s possible to visit Zion without dealing with the crowded shuttle.  Learn how here. 

Read More: HOW TO VISIT ZION WITHOUT THE SHUTTLE

Entrance Fee for Zion National Park 

There is an entrance fee for the park.  Find the latest fees on the NPS website

To avoid long lines and save money, if you are planning to visit more than just Zion this year, it can be great value to purchase an America The Beautiful pass.   

The one-year pass includes standard entrance at all sites managed by the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers. The pass covers the entrance fee for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle or up to 4 adults at sites that charge per person.

Get an America The Beautiful pass here

Zion National Park Entrances 

Zion National Park has four main sections.  

  1. East Mesa:  The East Entrance Station is here. This is where you’ll enter the park if you come from Kanab, Grand Canyon’s North Rim, or Bryce Canyon.  You’ll go through the Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel soon after entering.  There are several hiking trails into the park in this area of the park, too. 
  2. Zion Canyon: Zion’s main entrance is here, the South Entrance Station.  The main gateway town of Springdale is also here.  This is where you’ll enter the park if you come from Las Vegas.   
  3. Kolob Terrace: Enter along Kolob Terrace Road near Virgin (open seasonally only).  There is no formal entrance gate here. The road continues all the way to Kolob Reservoir and beyond.
  4. Kolob Canyons: This is a more remote section of the national park that is accessed separately and has its own entrance station. 

Zion National Park Visitor Centers  

There are three Visitor Centers in Zion National Park.

  1. The main Zion Canyon Visitor Center is just inside the South Entrance.
  2. The Zion Human History Museum also has a smaller Visitor Center.
  3. There is also the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center.

For opening hours, which vary seasonally, visit the NPS website.  


Things to Do in Zion National Park

There is no shortage of things to do in Zion National Park, no matter when you go. 

Canyoneering in zion national park

One of the most fun – and most adventurous – activities in and near Zion is canyoneering. Rappelling down a series of narrow slot canyons is something you’ll never forget. Get full details and description in this comprehensive guide. 

Read More: CANYONEERING IN ZION

Best Photo Spots Zion National Park

Zion is famous its breathtaking scenery.  Don’t miss out on any of the amazing views with this detailed list and description of the best photo spots in the park. 

Read More: BEST PHOTO SPOTS IN ZION


Best Tours of Zion National Park


Where to Stay In/ Near Zion National Park 

Places To Near Zion National Park 

The main gateway town for Zion National Park is Springdale, which is just outside the main South Entrance.  Find accommodations in Springdale here 

best airbnbs near zion national park

If you’d prefer to stay in a house, cabin or apartment in and around Springdale, my guide to the best vacation rentals in Springdale has some top suggestions. 

Read More: BEST RENTALS NEAR ZION

Places To Inside Zion National Park 

There is one lodge inside the park. Check availability for Zion Lodge. 

There are three campgrounds.  South Campground and Watchman Campground are both just inside the South Entrance in the main Zion Canyon section. Lava Point Campground is in the Kolob Terrace section of the park. There are no campgrounds in the Kolob Canyons part of the park.  


How to Get To Zion National Park

When you plan a trip to Zion National Park, you need to know the best way to get there. The most common ways to get to Zion National Park are to drive or fly into one of the nearby airports and pick up a rental car there.   

If you need a rental car, find one on RentalsCars.com 

If you’re looking for a flight, find a good deal on Skyscanner 


The Best Airports for Zion National Park

Trees and rocky cliffs surround the river in Zion National Park with the text that says "Closest airport to Zion National Park" at the top

There are several airports you can fly into/ out of for Zion. The largest is Las Vegas, but others like St. George Regional Airport are closer.

Read More: CLOSEST AIRPORTS TO ZION

Use Skyscanner to scan the Internet for the cheapest deals to help you decide and book. 


The Best Time to Visit Zion National Park 

In general, the best times to go to Zion National Park are May and September. You’ll avoid the summer crowds and heat, but everything will be open. However, these aren’t the only good times to go. 

zion national park best time to visit

This Zion National Park trip planner has detailed information on every season, so you can make the most informed decision for your own trip. 

Read More: BEST TIME TO VISIT ZION


How Long to Spend in Zion National Park

How many days you should go to Zion for depends on your interests, how much you like to hike (and how fit you are), your budget, and how much time you have available.  I recommend at least three days for the main section of the park, and longer if you want to visit Kolob Canyons as well. 

Zion How Many Days

If you have less or more time, and/ or want to see what you can realistically expect to see and do in that time, this Zion guide has a more detailed breakdown for you. 

Read More: HOW MANY DAYS FOR ZION


Best Hikes in Zion National Park

best hikes in zion national park

Zion National Park has two of the most famous hikes in the US – Angels Landing and The Narrows. But there are dozens of other amazing trails as well. This Zion hiking guide describes the top hikes.  It includes trail details so you can choose the best hikes for you. 

Read More: BEST HIKES IN ZION

Hiking the Narrows in zion national park

The Narrows is an iconic hike in the Virgin River through a narrow slot canyon a few feet wide and hundreds of feet high. Get full trail details and descriptions in this detailed guide. 

Read More: THE NARROWS TRAIL GUIDE


Travel Insurance for Zion National Park 

In addition to using this Zion National Park visitor guide for trip planning, you should also think about travel insurance.  Protect yourself against trip cancellation, loss or theft of your property, or any medical emergencies.   

 A great insurance option is World Nomads. It includes coverage for regular hiking trails.  You can book it here  or get a quote right here: 


Travel Tips for Zion National Park 

My top three tip for a Zion National Park visit are: 

  1. Have a plan.  Avoid the crowds as much as possible and see all the highlights.  Get one of my detailed itineraries – they tell you when and where to go to have the least chance of getting caught in crowds and the best chance of being in the right place at the right time to enjoy the trails and take the best photos.  Get the 1-, 2-, and 3- day itineraries here
  2. Get an early start each day. This is the best way to beat the crowds and have the best light for photos.  
  3. Don’t just do the famous hikes.  There are dozens of incredible trails in Zion that are less crowded but no less spectacular than their famous counterparts.


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Zion National Park Travel Guide

About the Author

James Ian Yosemite

James Ian has traveled to 82 countries and all 7 continents.  He has visited all of the main national parks in the United States, as well as many national monuments and state parks.

He has rafted through the Grand Canyon; rappelled down slot canyons near Zion and Arches; hiked among the hoodoos in Bryce and the enormous trees in Sequoia; admired the waterfalls in Yosemite and the colored hot springs in Yellowstone; seen moose in Grand Tetons and seals in the Channel Islands, and much more.

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