Utah is known for its stunning beauty and abundant opportunities for outdoor adventure. As home to five national parks it is no wonder tourists flock there year-round to see its colorful landscapes and breathtaking rock formations.
Southern Utah is home to Zion National Park, the state’s first official state park and one of its most popular. Many visitors spend anywhere from a few hours to a few days exploring the park but no matter how much time you have, you will already want to start planning your trip to see the sites you missed. Make the most of your trip by planning ahead to make sure you can fully enjoy the park’s most memorable sights.
If you’ve only got a few hours to spend, simply pick up a map at the park entrance and follow the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive route to enjoy a beautiful journey that shows you some of the impressive surroundings that make Zion so popular. Wildlife is abundant within the park’s boundaries so there is a good chance you will have to stop for deer crossing the road at some point during your journey.
The ideal time for visiting Zion is during the spring when the foliage is in full bloom. During the spring and fall the park enjoys its most pleasant temperatures and, while the park is open and popular year-round, the crowds are not overwhelming. Holidays get especially crowded so plan accordingly. During the summer months the park swells with visitors and temperatures can soar to more than100 degrees. Guests during the summer months should also be aware the park’s rainy season falls between July and September, increasing the risk for flash floods in the area.
Travelers visiting during the winter months can enjoy smaller crowds but should expect colder temperatures. Although it will rarely snow in the park it can get quite cold and temperatures fluctuate drastically from day to night.
Entrance fees are good for a full week and give you access to all areas of the park. Expect to pay $35 per car and, if you want to save your cash for souvenirs, don’t worry — the park accepts major credit cards for entrance. The Zion Annual Pass is a great deal for those who plan to make return trips within the year. For $50, the pass holder (and guests arriving in the same vehicle) are allowed to visit as many times as desired during the year.
One of the most convenient ways to visit the park is on the shuttle bus from the nearby town of Springdale. The shuttle is free to ride but there is a fee for parking in Springdale. Buses are wheelchair accessible and run frequently throughout the day. The shuttle drops you off at the park entrance where you can purchase your pass. Once inside the park you can get back on the shuttle at the visitor’s center to ride it through the scenic loop, seeing some of the main attractions along the way.
Trails vary in skill level but there are plenty of opportunities for hikers of varying abilities to enjoy the raw, natural beauty of Zion. Weeping Rock, a sheer cliff face that literally weeps fresh water from within the rock, is one of the easiest spots to reach on foot and can easily be enjoyed by everyone, while more strenuous hikes, like the popular Subway, require an advanced skill level and permit from the park.