In the canyons of southwestern Utah, there is a special patch of land that has colors and views like no other. Utah is widely known for its famous National Parks and Zion National Park is the most popular, drawing in 3.2 annual visitors. Let’s take a good look at Zion National Park including its history, what to do when there, where to stay and the best time to go.
A Brief History of Zion National Park
Humans have been inhabiting the region that would become Zion National Park for more than 8000 years, but modern Mormon settlers reached the land in 1858 and began settling into the area in the 1860s. President Howard Taft signed legislation to protect the canyon known then as Mukuntuweap National Monument in 1909. The Monument was converted into a National Park and named Zion National Park in honor of the Mormon settlers on November 19, 1919.
Where to Stay in Zion National Park
The southwest of Utah is not the most populous area in the country, but there definitely a few places for you to stay while visiting Zion, including in Zion itself. Watchman Campground has 176 sites, 95 of which have electrical inputs. If you want a full-service campground we recommend Zion River Resort RV Park & Campground in Virgin, Utah which made our list for the top five RV parks in Utah. Make sure to book any site well in advance as Zion is a popular National Park.
What to Do Once You Arrive at Zion National Park
Zion National Park is rather remote and not stocked with many flashy displays or exhibits. The most popular activity remains trail exploration, namely hiking and cycling.
Hiking is very popular at Zion namely because of the sprawling butte and vista views as well as the unique colors displayed at Zion. Zion also has trails and hikes for just about every skill level. Beginners might enjoy the 1-mile loop of The Grotto Trail or the half mile Archaeology Trail. Those with moderate skill can take on the two-mile Kayenta Trail or the five mile Taylor Creek Trail. Even advanced hikers have several choices, popular strenuous hikes include The Narrows and the famous tunnels known as The Subway.
If you have mobility issues or prefer to see as much as possible there are scenic drives offered around the National Park. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is one of the more popular drives but if you don’t want to use your own vehicle you can always hop on one of the guided tours on the Park’s shuttles. Zion offers a little bit of something for every type of traveler.
Zion doesn’t only have hiked. The park hosts a range of activities that will appeal to all sorts of RVers including wildlife viewing, mountaineering, going on ranger-guided tours, horseback riding, bird watching, river rafting or kayaking and backcountry camping in the Kolob Canyons. If you somehow run out of things to do at Zion you can visit Bryce Canyon National Park or Cedar Breaks National Monument, both within a couple hours of Zion National Park.
When to Go to Zion National Park
Zion in the summer is hot, it is mostly a high desert landscape after all. Temperatures at Zion regularly eclipse 95 degrees and typically don’t get any cooler than 65 degrees. If you love the heat and know how to properly stay hydrated than you might be fine with this. Dor most people we recommend the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. Spring not only holds cooler temperatures, but you can also see some unique flowering plants that are hard to find elsewhere in the United States.
If I had to make a list of the most beautiful National Parks in the country, Zion National Park would definitely be in my top five. Whether you’re a snowbirder looking to head south for winter, enjoy boondocking away from the city lights, or are looking for some fall foliage you won’t see anywhere else, Zion is your RV destination. Consider heading to this spectacular and colorful National Park the next time you point your RV towards the American southwest.