Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Activities in Zion

Zion National Park open year round. In the springtime, temperatures are comfortable and precipitation is light. Streams from melting winter snows plunge down many sheer sandstone walls. Grasses and wildflowers abound. Photography is especially rewarding at this time of year because the flowers are in bloom. Bicycling, hiking, horseback riding and bird-watching are all popular springtime activities at Zion. Most hiking trails are open in the spring, with the possible exception of the high country. The Pa'rus Trail, a 1.75-mile hiking and biking path by the Virgin River has wonderful views of the open canyon. 

Summer is the busiest season at Zion in terms of the number of visitors and the range of activities. Free interpretive talks, shuttle tours, audiovisual programs, guided hikes and evening programs take place daily. Enjoy wading in the Virgin River but be cautious because flash floods are dangerous and very unpredictable. For your safety, do not wade in rushing waters. 

Zion is spectacular in late autumn. Colors are at their peak and temperatures are comfortable. 

Winters are generally mild and snowfall is light. Snow may accumulate on the higher plateaus, which makes for good cross-country skiing.

Main roads through Zion and those leading into the park, except the road to Lava Point, are kept open and passable. Most higher-elevation hiking trails are closed in winter. Zion Lodge and one campground are open all year.

Zion Canyon Field Institute: The Zion Canyon Field Institute is a nonprofit educational organization created in cooperation with Zion National Park. The Field Institute offers year-round outdoor workshops, field trips and service learning projects on topics including geology, archeology, photography, and flora and fauna of southern Utah. These classes are held trailside at Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Pipe Spring National Monument. For more information, call (800) 635-3959, or visit the website to view the workshop schedule at www.zionpark.org.

Camping: Zion has two campgrounds. South Campground is located 0.5-mile north of Springdale on the main park road. Open on a first-come, first-served basis, it has tent, trailer and RV sites with flush toilets. The maximum length of stay is 14 days. Pets are allowed, but must be leashed at all times.

Watchman Campground is located just off the main park road at the South Entrance to the park. It is open year-round and it is on a reservation system from early April to October. There are tent, trailer, RV and group sites with flush toilets. Eighty-five electric hookups are available. Pets are allowed, but must be leashed at all times. Reservations are accepted for early April through October and can be made up to five months in advance. Contact (877) 444-6777 or visit www.recreation.gov. (Group site reservations are accepted up to three months in advance.)

If you are camping in the backcountry, obtain a backcountry permit (fee charged) from a visitor center. Back-country permits are required for over-night hikes.

Walking & Hiking

A variety of trails crisscross Zion. Before starting out, consult the free Zion Map & Guide, available at entrance stations and visitor centers. The key to successful hiking is to become familiar with each trail and know your limitations and abilities.

• Before hiking in any of Zion's narrow canyons, check at the visitor center for the current weather forecast. Failing to do so can jeopardize your safety.

• Most trails in Zion have precipitous drop-offs, so stay back from edges and always watch your footing.

Times listed below are round-trip and are averages for hikers in good physical condition.

Weeping Rock Trail is a relatively easy trail that begins at Weeping Rock shuttle stop and ends at a rock alcove with hanging gardens. (0.5-mile, 30 minutes)

Canyon Overlook is an easy-to- moderate hike that starts at the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, just east of the long tunnel, and ends with a spectacular view of lower Zion Canyon. (1.0 mile, 1 hour) 

The lower Emerald Pool is an easy hike that starts at the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive opposite the Zion Lodge and ends at Lower Pool and three waterfalls. Swimming or wading in the pools is prohibited. (1.2 miles, 1 hour) (Climbing to the Middle Pool involves considerably more effort and has several steep drop-offs.)

Riverside Walk is an easy trail that follows the Virgin River upstream from the Temple of Sinawava to Zion Canyon Narrows. This trail is wheelchair-accessible for the first half mile. (2.0 miles, 1.5 hours)

Taylor Creek is a moderately strenuous hike that begins on Kolob Canyon Road, two miles from the visitor center. It follows the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek to Double Arch Alcove. Your feet may get wet fording the creek. (5.0 miles, 4 hours)

Angels Landing is a strenuous hike that begins at the Grotto Picnic shuttle stop. The route ends at the summit high above Zion Canyon. The last 0.5-mile follows a steep, narrow ridge with a drop-off of 1,500 feet. Not recommended for people with a fear of heights. (5.0 miles, 4 hours)