Zion National Park, Utah - What You Need to Know When Visiting Zion

Hiking, Sightseeing, Shopping and More at Zion

Zion National Park Hiking
Copyright: Elizabeth R. Mitchell

Zion National Park, close to St. George, Utah, is just an hour and a half drive from the International airport in Las Vegas. It is open all year round. Zion is one of the top attractions of the southwest. The official Zion website explains... Zion is an ancient Hebrew word meaning a place of refuge or sanctuary. Protected within the park's 229 square miles is a dramatic landscape of sculptured canyons and soaring cliffs. Zion is located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert provinces. This unique geography and the variety of life zones within the park make Zion significant as a place of unusual plant and animal diversity.

When to Go

Zion National Park is open year round. The lodge and Watchman Campground are available year round but most of the campgrounds are accessible March through October. The majority of park visitors come during Spring and Fall and there are fewer visitors in December through March. The park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The visitor's center is closed on Christmas.


The Park is designed to have something for everyone. The restrooms, visitor's centers, shuttle, museum and Zion Lodge are fully accessible. A shuttle takes visitors on a loop trip (90 minutes round-trip) throughout the park from April 1st through October 29th. In general, cars are not permitted past the Visitor's Center during these times. You can even catch a shuttle in Springdale and ride it into the park to avoid the line at the gate. The shuttle will take visitors to all trailheads and points of interest in the park. There is plenty of room for gear.

- There are easy trails, such as The Riverside Walk, and very strenuous trails such as Angel's Landing where your ascent is assisted by chains embedded into the rocks. Backcountry hiking is limited (see information above). The shuttle takes you to the trailheads and leaves the Visitor's Center early in the morning and returns quite late in the evening (make sure you check the schedule).

- Climbing on Zion's sandstone cliffs requires both high tech equipment and advanced skills. Information is available at visitor centers.
Horseback Riding

- Guided trips are available March through October. Reservations and information are available at the lodge or by writing:
Bryce Zion Trail Rides
PO Box 58
Tropic, UT 84776
Phone: 435-772-3967 or 679-8665
Water Sports

- A backcountry permit is required for watercraft. Inner tubes are not permitted on rivers and creeks in the park.
Zion Canyon Field Institute

- Enjoy naturalist-led hikes during workshops. The Field Institute strives to educate and inspire visitors. The workshops take place in and around Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, and Pipe Spring National Monument.

Museums and Education - The Visitors Centers have displays and a great selection of books. The Zion Human History Museum permanent exhibits display the rich human history of Zion National Park. The museum showcases American Indian culture, historic pioneer settlement, and Zion's growth as a national park.
Shopping - The Visitors Center has a great shop with an excellent selection of books, great souvenirs, and beautifully designed t-shirts. Proceeds go to the park.

Pet Limitations

Pets must be leashed (6-foot maximum) at all times. They are not allowed in the backcountry, in public buildings, and on all but one trail - the Pa'rus Trail. Never leave your pet in a closed vehicle. Temperatures can soar above 120° F (49° C) in minutes. Boarding kennels are available in surrounding cities.

Vehicle Limitations

The Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel is located on the park road between the East Entrance and Zion Canyon. Vehicles sized 7 feet 10 inches in width or 11 feet 4 inches in height, or larger must have an "escort" (traffic control) through this tunnel because they are too large to stay in their lane while traveling through the tunnel. Nearly all RVs, buses, trailers, 5th wheels, and some camper shells will require an escort. Visitors requiring an escort must pay a $10.00 fee per vehicle in addition to an entrance fee. This fee is good for two trips through the tunnel for the same vehicle during a 7-day period. Pay this fee at either park entrance before proceeding to the tunnel. Rangers will be stopping traffic at each end of the tunnel to stop oncoming traffic to allow you to travel through the tunnel. From March through October, rangers are stationed at the tunnel from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm daily. During the winter season, escorts must be arranged at the entrance stations, Visitor Center, Lodging desk or by calling: 435-772-0178.<br/>

Camping - Watchman Campground, South Campground and group campsites are available for RV and tent camping. There is also backcountry camping. Zion's backcountry is a primitive area and managed according to regulations that protect its wilderness values. Backcountry camping is allowed on a limited basis and a backcountry permit is required. Permits cost $5.00 per person per night. Group size is limited to 12 persons for both day and night use. Campfires are not permitted in the back country.
Zion Lodge - Zion Lodge is open year-round. Reservations are advised. Motel rooms, cabins and suites are available. Zion Lodge also has dining, a gift shop and post office. Zion Lodge Website.
Lodging Outside the Park - You can stay in Springdale or in St. George for easy access to the park. Hotels Website

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