Located near Springdale, Utah, Zion National Park is the oldest national park in Utah after being designated as one in 1919. It also takes the number one spot for being the most visited national park in the state, attracting more than 3,000 people each year.
Zion National Park is located at the junction of Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and the Mojave Desert. To visit Zion National Park is like visiting four different types of life-zones in one. The park ranges from being a desert, wetland, woodland, and a coniferous forest. It also includes an array of geological phenomena such as mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons and natural arches.
Don't miss these must-do activities when visiting this historical park.
Zion National Park is known as a hiker's paradise. With seven different hiking trails, which vary in round-trip times of half an hour to up to a full 12 hours for expert hikers, Zion has a trail for everyone of all ages and health conditions. Most popular trails include Weeping Rock, Angels Landing, Taylor Creek, Kolob Arch, West Rim, and LaVerkin Creek. Some of the trails require permits and some sections are even prohibited due to the possible dangerous tracks.
Although hotels, motels, and cabins are available for rent all year-round, camping is also quite popular during the spring and summer. South and Watchman on the southern side of the park are the most popular campgrounds. However, Watchman is the only one that takes reservations, and spots fill up fast, so you have to be there early to grab your perfect tent spot. Lava Point, which only has primitive facilities, is also a popular spot but it's only open from June to October.
Rock Climbing and Canyoning
Home to Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep, rock climbing and canyoneering – which includes other types of moving through the canyon such as jumping, rappelling and scrambling – are popular spots in this brick-red paradise. However, to participate in this specific activity, those interested need to contact guide services.
Because a person on horseback doesn't spook Zion's wildlife as easy as if the person was on foot, horseback riding is perfect for those that want to do some bird and wildlife watching. Horseback riding is available within Zion park and in the surrounding areas, making this an activity to be enjoyed year-round.
Birding and Wildlife Watching
Due to the four life-zones that are encased in the park, flora and fauna are abundant. More than 200 species of birds, 75 mammals, 19 bats, 32 reptiles and more than a 1,000 plant species can be spotted in Zion. The Peregrine falcon, the bald eagle, and the California condor are some of the birds nesting in their native habitat.
Although ATV's are rarely permitted inside the Zion Park, surrounding areas make it easy to stick close. Sand Hollow and Coral Pink Sand Dunes are two nearby state parks that make this spot particularly famous around Zion.
It's not necessary to rough it to have fun in Zion National Park. If you just want to see what the park has to offer without sacrificing the comfort of your car, there are three must-visit roads: Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, Zion Park Scenic Byway, and Kolob Fingers Road Scenic Byway, which also features the less frequented Kolob Canyon region.
Junior Ranger Program
To make the trip more fun for the little ones, Zion National Park offers booklets where kids can search and discover different things throughout the whole park and earn Junior Rangers badges. It's a fun way to get them motivated in exploring the different routes of the park. Kids can earn their badges through guided or self-guided tours.
Similar to scenic car rides, ATV's and even horseback riding, those wishing to bike through the Zion terrains must stick to the roads and respect traffic laws. However, this is a perfect way to view the Zion plateaus while covering ground faster than with hiking. The Pa'rus Trail is especially famous with bicyclists as they take the shuttle to the top of Zion Canyon and then ride back down.
To really take in what Zion National Park is, helicopter rides are offered to truly appreciate the canyon and the variety of life-zones to the fullest. Rides are offered as a combo with visits to other parks and lakes in Utah.