Zion means "promised land," which is the perfect way to describe Zion National Park's peaceful yet dramatic landscape of sculptured canyons and soaring cliffs.see more »
Zion National Park
The Zion Experience:
Zion translates to "The Promised Land," and that means for you some of the most spectacular hiking of your lifetime and impossible landscapes you will never forget. Carved by water and time beyond the stretch of the imagination, Zion National Park is a canyon that invites you to participate in the very forces that created it. In the warm climate of Southern Utah, hike through the Virgin River and see the strata that mark geologic time rising for thousands of feet up to a narrow strip of sky you were sure used to be much larger. Climb to places and heights you never thought you could. For outdoor wonder and unparalleled recreation, Zion is a land that keeps its promise.
Local Knowledge: David J. West, Photographer
Learn what a local photographer loves about Zion and the best time to photograph.
Adventure at a Glance:
There are several easy, self-guided trails in Zion, including the Riverside Walk (Gateway to the Narrows), which is suitable for strollers and wheelchairs with assistance. More adventurous or strenuous hikes are also found in the park, as well as vast expanses of permit-only backcountry hiking. Angel's Landing will not only make your list of ten best hikes ever, it often takes the top spot.
There is also guided horseback riding, road cycling, permitted watercraft use when the water is high, plenty of backpacking, climbing and canyoneering for advanced and technical climbers. As wild and wonderful as Zion is, the park is also surrounded by additional wilderness areas to further your escape from civilization. Or if you extend your stay in Springdale lodging or the park's campgrounds, you can see the park over several days. Visit with locals and get some tips on best times and ways of experience Zion National Park; your perspective can change on every trip in.
10 Great Ways to Explore Zion National Park
1. The Watchman and Virgin River of Zion National Park
Take a short walk down to the Virgin River for this view of the park's iconic guardian. Pause to absorb the breathtaking beauty.... see more »
2. See the Moonrise in Zion National Park
Watch the shift change of the sun and the moon. Wait for the stars....
3. Stand in Awe at the Court of the Patriarchs
Photograph with the legends. Ansel Adams recorded the Court of the Patriarchs over over 80 years ago. Now it's your turn....
4. Ride Zion's National Park Multipassenger Shuttle
Join world travelers on the park's main transportation system. Learn to say "incredible" in another language.... see more »
5. Bond on a Family Hike in Zion National Park
Hike Zion with the whole family. Help the little ones make the first memories they will never forget. Emerald Pools one choice.... see more »
6. Stand at the Precipice at a Zion Canyon Overlook
See the park from incredible heights. A one hour hike on the Canyon Overlook Trail showcases the lower Zion Canyon in all its splendor.... see more »
7. Ascend Angel's Landing, Zion National Park
Peer over an edge you never thought possible. Engineered by adventure, Angel's Landing will quickly find a home among your top ten hikes....
8. Hike The Narrows of Zion Canyon
One of the world's premier hikes, The Narrows is an extraordinary trip through the Virgin River's slot canyons. Take the paved, accessible Riverwalk or grab a pole and walk right...
9. Punch Your Ticket to Zion's Subway
This is The Narrows to the extreme. Grab a permit and an experienced guide and check out one of two ways to explore The Subway. Both are trips are spectacular.... see more »
10. Behold Kolob Arch, Zion National Park
Extra credit for making the trip to the less visited, northern accessible Kolob Canyons section of the park. You'll find yourself in the presence of greatness....
While Zion's bucket list adventures and endless wilderness can easily make up an entire trip, plan extra days to explore some of the area's other parks, towns and activities you may not have thought of.
From May to October expect highs in Zion from 90 F (32 C) to over 100 F (38 C); day and night temperatures can differ by over 30 F (17 C) and lightning and thunderstorms will periodically drench the canyon. In the summer, the Zion climate is hot and fairly dry. Zion National Park has plenty of canyon spring water taps from which refill your water bottle and CamelBak. Bring them, and drink them. But you will find escape from the heat throughout the park: in the cooling waters of the Virgin River, in the Refrigerator stretch of Angel's Landing and in quiet sanctuary of your own being, refreshed by nature. Expect somewhat cooler temperatures in late spring and early fall, and though winter days can be cold and wet, Zion National Park is open year-round. Learn more about Utah's weather and climate.
Zion Lodging and Camping:
Popular campsites within the park fill up early. Reserve a spot early for the Watchman Campground or hit the first come, first serve sites at the South Campground. The historic Zion National Park Lodge is also an extraordinary space in the heart of Zion Canyon, which means epic Zion National Park hiking is right at your doorstep. Gateway towns La Verkin, Virgin, Rockville and Springdale have accommodations ranging from campgrounds and RV parks to brand-name motels and upscale hotels. Area camping:Inside the park, Outside the park, BLM Lands, Commercial/RV, State Parks
Logistics and Drive Time:
Located in the southwest corner of Utah in Washington County, Zion National Park is a 4.5 hour drive from Salt Lake or just over 2.5 hours from Las Vegas. Zion has two park entrances, both on Utah state Route 9. One is 33 miles east of Interstate 15 and the other is 12 miles west of U.S. 89.
Visitor centers, campgrounds and the historic Zion Lodge are open year-round. In the heart of Zion, join fellow adventurers in the park's multipassenger shuttle system, which is the only motorized transportation allowed in the main canyon during peak season. The shuttles let visitors sit back and enjoy Zion's lofty formations such as The Great White Throne, Angels Landing, and Weeping Rock and keeps the main canyon road free from congestion. It also includes a "town loop" that stops in the town of Springdale at the park's south entrance. Visitors can still use private vehicles to tour a portion of the park on Utah Highway 9 through a mountain tunnel and take a mile-long hike to a sweeping view of lower Zion Canyon and Pine View Canyon, where you'll likely see canyoneers rappelling into tiny slot canyons.
The northern Kolob Canyons section is accessible off I-15, 18 miles south of Cedar City. Kolob Canyons features all the impressive geology, natural arches, waterfalls and intensive colors that define Zion National Park, yet welcomes significantly fewer visitors through its gates.
There's a 5-mile scenic drive and multiple trailheads beyond the visitors center, where you can stop to to gain access and obtain permits for the backcountry, should your schedule permit some time to escape civilization and population into the breathtaking designated wilderness of Zion. With less time, there a short hike to a panoramic overlook you'll want to linger at, perhaps through the setting of the sun.
Visitors to the area will also enjoy the half-day visit to Kanarraville Falls. Though not part of Zion National Park, Kanarraville offers a classic desert southwest hike complete with a cooling creek and a little slot canyon. The trail crosses the creek and uses makeshift ladders to ascend past short, refreshing waterfalls, but is renowned for being friendly for families. Be prepared to get your feet wet and walk carefully on the trail once you do and consider packing a lunch for a break along the way.
Immediate after entering, the soaring towers and massive monoliths of Zion National Park cast spectacular grandeur, no matter your perspective. From the canyon floor of Zion Canyon, feel dwarfed by the sheer sandstone walls of the West Temple or Great White Throne, colored with a gradient of white, cream, coral and orange rock dotted with intrepid trees growing impossibly among the steep divots and narrow shelves. Now, perched on Angel's Landing, Zion's monoliths are part of a bigger landscape that spreads out beneath you. This is the perspective of giants. You are fortified for the refreshing walk through the Narrows, Zion National Park's spectacularly carved gorge that reaches depths of 2,000 feet. Take an hour, two hours, a half day, or two days with a permit, and explore Zion Canyon's famous slot canyons by hiking in the Virgin River. Play in the waters at the mouth of the canyon with revelers from all all over the world. Or set off for solitude in the furthest reaches. With the right supplies and plenty of drinking water, you have sixteen miles ahead. And so much more to return to.
You can get to know your fellow campers or escape into Zion National Park's 232 square miles (593 square kilometers). That's 148,733 acres, over 124,000 of which are designated as Zion Wilderness Area.
Designated in 1909, Zion National Park is Utah's oldest park. Some 3 million visitors visit The Promised Land every year, making Zion Utah's most visited of The Mighty 5® national parks.
See Utah's Mighty 5® national parks and find an itinerary.