The Essential Zion National Park Travel Guide

Plan your trip to Zion with this Zion National Park travel guide, with info on Zion’s campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.

Plan your trip to Zion with this Zion National Park travel guide, with info on Zion's campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.

Zion National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in Southern Utah and for a good reason. Narrow slot canyons, red and white sandstone formations, 3,000-foot vertical walls, and the Virgin River make the main canyon of Zion National Park a spectacular place to explore.

When planning a trip to Zion National Park, it is easy to get overwhelmed with questions. Where are the best hiking trails? How does the Park shuttle work? Do I need a permit? Where can I camp? In this Zion National Park Travel Guide, I answer all of these questions and break down everything you need to know for an amazing trip.

Ready for adventure? Start planning your trip to Zion with this Zion National Park Travel Guide!

Important Reminder: As it goes in all of the destinations we share, please practice good trail etiquette and remember to Leave No Trace. This means packing out all of your garbage (including toilet paper) and following the established rules. In the desert, this also means learning how to protect cryptobiotic soil and how it has a huge impact on our ecosystems.

Best Time to Visit Zion National Park

While Zion National Park can be visited year-round, temperatures are most pleasant in the months of April, May, early June, October, and November.

Summertime is very hot and busy, but it is a nice time to hike in the Virgin River in the Zion Narrows. Make sure you bring hiking sun protection and wear appropriate clothing for hiking in the desert.

Late July through September is considered flash flood season. If you are visiting Zion National Park during this time, pay close attention to the forecast and do not hike in any narrow canyons (including the Narrows hike) if rain is predicted.

Winter can also be a great time to visit Zion National Park. Crowds are fewer and the top of the canyon looks especially beautiful with a light dusting of snow, although trail access is more limited in icy conditions. If you plan to visit Zion in the winter, be sure to check out our guide to cold weather layering.

Plan your trip to Zion National Park with this travel guide complete with info on campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.
Zion in the winter

How to Get to Zion National Park

Zion National Park is located in Southern Utah around a 2 1/2 hour drive from Las Vegas and a 7 hour drive from Los Angeles. It’s a great destination as part of a larger Utah road trip itinerary or can be a standalone destination in itself.

If you’re looking to fly in for a visit to the park, the nearest airport with commercial flights is McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. From there you’ll want to rent a car for your trip as there isn’t easy public transportation to the park from there.

Zion National Park Layout

Zion National Park has two main regions. The main Zion Canyon, which should be on any first-timers itinerary and is the focus of this blog post, is most easily accessed via SR-9 which connects to the I-15 just north of St. George, Utah. The SR-9 runs directly into the Park’s South Entrance which is immediately past the small town of Springdale.

As soon as you enter the Park through the South Entrance, the Visitors Center will be on your right. The Visitors Center is worth a quick stop to pick up a map and get your bearings. The Park employees at the Visitors Center can also inform you of water availability on the trails, which is important to know before if you are heading out on any overnight hikes.

Plan your trip to Zion National Park with this travel guide complete with info on campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.
Credit: National Park Service

The other region of Zion National Park is the Kolob Canyon area. This area is located in the northern end of the Park and is accessed directly from I-15 (Exit 40 near Cedar City, Utah). The Kolob region offers a little more solitude, big peaks, and the second-largest natural arch in the world.

Plan your trip to Zion National Park with this travel guide complete with info on campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.
Credit: National Park Service

If you want to visit both parts of Zion, keep in mind that these two areas of the park are not connected by a direct road running through the park.

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    Where to Stay in Zion National Park

    Zion National Park Camping

    There are two drive-in campgrounds in the main Zion Canyon and they are less than 1/2 a mile from the Visitors Center at the entrance of the park. Sites are $20 for tent camping or $30 for a site with an electric hookup. All sites have picnic tables, a fire pit, and access to potable water, bathrooms, and trash containers. No showers are available at the campsites.

    Reservations are highly recommended. If you can’t get a spot, there are many dispersed camping options just outside the Park.

    Zion’s Watchman Campground

    Zion National Park’s Watchman Campground is directly behind the Visitors Center and has a total of 190 tent and electric sites that are available year-round. Reservations are required from March through November and can be made online. Reservations are accepted 6 months in advance and fill up quickly, so as soon as you have your trip dates, you should immediately make a reservation. Regulations and a map of Watchman campground can be found here.

    If you’re visiting Zion National Park in the winter, Watchman Campground has first-come, first-served campsites available from the end of November through February.

    Best campsites: While I found all of the Watchman Campground sites to be decent, the best campsites based on views, space, and/or shade are located on the outside of the D loop from D19 through D35. I really loved D21. C1-10 were also nice but had little shade. Typically, I would be drawn to the Walk-in Tent Sites, but these felt cramped and had absolutely no shade, so I would not recommend the Walk-In sites.

    Plan your trip to Zion National Park with this travel guide complete with info on campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.
    Credit: National Park Service

    Zion’s South Campground

    Zion National Park’s South Campground is just north of the Visitors Center on the main road and has a total of 117 non-electric sites. The campground is open from March through October and sites are only available through reservations up to 14 days in advance. A map and regulations for the South Campground can be found here.

    Best campsites: The campsites along the road are a bit noisier than the rest of the sites. The best sites are the ones along the Virgin River and Pa’rus Trail. These include 58-63, 68, 71, 72, 74, 77, 78, 80, 82, and 125-128.

    Plan your trip to Zion National Park with this travel guide complete with info on campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.
    Credit: National Park Service

    Zion Lodge

    The Zion National Park Lodge is the only in-Park lodging in Zion. It’s open year-round and accommodations include historic cabins, hotel rooms, and suites, all with private porches or balconies to take in the majestic views.

    There’s also a restaurant on-site and the Park shuttle (see below) services the lodge multiple times a day so you can make the most of your stay in the Park. Prices start at $220/night.

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    Other Zion National Park Lodging Options

    Zion Canyon Campground & RV Resort

    If both campgrounds in the Park are full, another option is Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort in Springdale. While a bit pricier (starting $59/night), this campground has showers unlike the campgrounds in the Park. The sites next to the river are nice, although these are an additional $20/night.

    Zion Trailer Rentals

    If you prefer RV camping over sleeping in a tent, Zion Trailer Rentals will deliver and set up an RV travel trailer to any campground in the Zion NP area. They book up fast as most campsites for RVs are reserved up to 6 months in advance during peak season.


    If camping isn’t your thing or it’s simply too hot, there are several hotels in Springdale including a few with swimming pools. For a higher budget ($200-350/night), check out the Desert Pearl Inn, Cliffrose Lodge and Gardens, or the Hampton Inn. For lower budgets ($100-$200), try the Zion Park Motel or Holiday Inn Express.

    Zion National Park Permits and Fees

    All visitors are required to pay an entrance fee of $35 per vehicle. The entrance pass is good for 7 days. If you are planning to stay longer or visiting other National Parks in the next year and you would like to save money on Park admission, then you might consider purchasing an Interagency Annual Pass. This pass costs $80 and waives entrance fees to all lands owned by the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service for one year.

    Permits are not needed for most day hikes within Zion Canyon. Permits are only needed for overnight backpacking and wilderness camping, the top-down Narrows hike, Angel’s Landing (permit info below), or a day hike in the Subway. If you are planning on backpacking in Zion, all of the information regarding permits and reservations can be found here.

    Zion National Park Shuttle

    Zion Canyon Shuttle

    Generally, from early March through November, cars are not permitted to drive in the Park along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Luckily, the Zion Canyon shuttle operated by the Park Service is free, fast, and easy, and you do not need to reserve shuttle tickets. The shuttle drops off at all major trailheads in the park and it’s very easy to use.

    If you visit the Park during shuttle season, the windows in the bus are huge, so you can enjoy the scenery while listening to the audio narrator tell you all the geology and history of sites you’ll pass in the Canyon. If you visit outside the shuttle season, you can still listen to the shuttle narration in your own vehicle by downloading it here.

    The Park shuttle departs from the Visitors Center every 6-10 minutes and makes stops throughout the Park. Just jump off wherever you feel like exploring. When you are ready to move on, just wait at a stop and catch a shuttle going in the direction of your next stop. There are stops at all of the major hiking trails, and all the stops are clearly marked on the Park map provided at the Visitors Center.

    Shuttle start and end times vary depending on the season, so be sure to check when the last shuttle of the day is before you head out on a hike. If you miss it, it’s a long walk out!

    Springdale Shuttle

    If you are staying in Springdale or there is no available parking at the Visitors Center, there is also a free shuttle from town to the Vistors Center where you can then catch the Zion Canyon shuttle.

    Amenities Near Zion National Park

    If you forget something at home, there is no need to worry. You can get pretty much whatever you need in Springdale which is right down the road from the Zion National Park entrance. Keep in mind that goods in Springdale are going to be more expensive than at home.

    • Groceries, firewood, and ice can be purchased at The Canyon Market or at Sol Foods. The Canyon Market also has some camp kitchen supplies if you forget any cooking necessities.
    • Liquor, beer, and wine can be purchased at the Switchback Liquor Store. It’s a state-run liquor store, so it’s closed on Sundays, but the plus side is that they sell full strength (>3.2%) beer if you’re into that.
    • Cafe Soleil is an awesome, funky cafe with local art for sale. They have free wifi, friendly staff, and delicious coffee. The food also looked amazing. I highly recommend the dirty soy chai latte (chai with a shot of espresso)

    What to Do in Zion National Park

    Below are a few of my favorite outdoor adventures and things to do in Zion National Park that I consider a must if you have the time.

    1. Climb Angel’s Landing

    Shuttle Stop: The Grotto
    Length: 5.4 miles roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
    Difficulty: Strenuous
    Permit required? Yes

    Angel’s Landing is the most famous trail in Zion National Park and it isn’t for the faint of heart. That said, anyone who is in decent physical shape and can handle a series of uphill switchbacks can do it (although probably not recommended for those with a fear of heights…unless you want to conquer those fears).

    Everyone who wants to hike Angel’s Landing will need a permit. Permits are available via a lottery system two months in advance. Find more information about the Angel’s Landing permit process and apply for your permit on the Zion National Park’s website.

    The first 2 miles of the Angel’s Landing hike are paved and well-traveled. We saw families even with small children on this section of the trail. The ascent is fairly steep but there are plenty of places to rest along the way where you can take in the views of the Canyon and the Virgin River below.

    After hiking up a series of steep and short switchbacks called Walter’s Wiggles, you reach Scout’s Lookout. At Scout’s lookout, you get a really nice view of the summit and can see down the length of the Canyon. This is a good point to decide whether you are in a condition to continue. Past this point, the trail becomes very exposed as you climb up the spine of the mountain that is less than 5 feet wide in some places. Hiking this section is a thrilling and dizzying experience that requires slow, deliberate steps while making use of the chains and guard rails that have been installed by the Park Service.

    After scrambling up 500 vertical feet, you reach the summit where you are rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views of the Canyon.

    Tips for Hiking Angel’s Landing:

    • This trail can get very crowded and the chains can get backed up during the middle of the day. To avoid the crowds, do this hike very early in the morning or the late afternoon which also happens to be the best times of day for photography due to the position of the sun.
    • If at any point you become uncomfortable, stop, take a deep breath, and turn around if that’s the right move for you. It is nothing to be embarrassed about.
    • You need two free hands. Make sure you have a backpack for your camera, water bottle, and other belongings.
    Angels Landing / Plan your trip to Zion with this Zion National Park travel guide, with info on Zion's campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.

    2. Hike to Observation Point

    Note: The Observation Point via East Rim Trail (below) is currently closed due to a major rockfall. Check the official National Park Service Zion trail description page for updates. You can currently access Observation Point by hiking the Observation Point via East Mesa Trail.

    Shuttle Stop: Big Bend
    Length: 8 miles roundtrip
    Elevation Gain: 2,150 feet
    Rating: Moderate to Strenuous

    While longer with greater elevation gain, you may find that Observation Point is a less strenuous hike than Angel’s Landing. It is also less crowded and was my favorite day hike we did in the Canyon. The trail starts with a series of switchbacks leading up from the Canyon floor. At the top of these switchbacks, the trail turns east into a steep slot canyon providing relief from the sun.

    Once you exit the slot canyon, the trail continues to climb around the backside of the mountain overlooking an expansive area called Echo Canyon. This section of the trail provides new topography and different vegetation than what is experienced in the main Canyon and the drop-offs begin to get steeper.

    You keep ascending and with one mile to go, the trail wraps back around providing sweeping views of Zion Canyon. During this section, you are on the edge of a vertical drop off with nothing between you and the Canyon floor. Luckily the trail is wide and solid rock, so as long as you watch your footing, there is nothing to worry about.

    Eventually, as you reach the Canyon rim, the trail evens off, and the plateau jets out to Observation Point. From here, you tower above Angel’s Landing and have wide-open views of the Valley floor and both the East and West Canyon rims. For more photos, see my blog post: The Epic Hike to Observation Point.

    Observation Point // Plan your trip to Zion National Park with this travel guide complete with info on campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.

    3. Hike The Zion Narrows

    Shuttle Stop: Temple of Sinawava
    Length: 2.2 miles +
    Elevation Gain: 60 feet
    Difficulty: Depends on how far you go…

    The hike to the Zion Narrows from the bottom up begins with an easy paved walkway called the Riverside Walk at the very end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Due to its accessibility, you will encounter lots of families, so don’t expect solitude. However, it’s a nice stroll along the Virgin River if you have some time to kill.

    Beyond the end of the paved trail is the mouth of the Narrows, which is a 16-mile slot canyon with soaring walls, springs, and sandstone grottos. Hiking the entire Narrows requires a fair amount of logistical planning, but if you are feeling adventurous and have some tennis shoes, you can keep walking upriver as far as you like to do some exploring. Just keep an eye on the time and check the weather before heading upstream. If rain is in the forecast do not proceed.

    If you have more time, you can also backpack the Zion Narrows. To this day, it’s one of my favorite backpacking trips in Southern Utah.

    Note: The Narrows has been temporarily closed in the past due to high levels of cyanobacteria in the Virgin River. Be sure to check the Zion National Park website for updates before heading on your trip or check with the Visitor’s center upon arrival for the latest information.

    The Narrows // Plan your trip to Zion National Park with this travel guide complete with info on campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.

    4. Drive the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway

    From the Canyon Junction to the East Entrance, the section of the SR-9 road is called the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. This is one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever done with endless places to pull off and explore.

    While there are not many marked trails in this area, the bountiful slick rock makes for some easy hiking. Unless you are planning on venturing far from the road, you probably don’t need to plan in advance. Just keep an eye on your surroundings and make sure you always know how to get back to the road.

    If you are feeling really adventurous and want to do some deeper exploring, photographer Joe Braun has a section on his website devoted to hiking in Zion’s Upper East Canyon that is worth a read. We stopped at Checkerboard Mesa Canyon and spent a few hours tromping around in complete solitude.

    Additional Zion National Park Resources

    The book and map below provide information that can complement this Zion Travel Guide. I purchased both of these before my trip and found them very useful for planning.

    • Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country – This is a fantastic hiking book by Kathy and Craig Copeland. They cover a bunch of hikes in Zion and the surrounding area, including Angel’s Landing and Observation Point. They do an excellent job of describing the hikes, and I would recommend this book to anyone planning to spend significant time in Southern Utah.
    Hiking in Utah Canyon Country // Plan your trip to Zion National Park with this travel guide complete with info on campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.
    • Zion National Park Map from National Geographic – This map gives a very good lay of the land and is more detailed than the map provided by the Park Service. It shows all of the shuttle stops, major hikes, backcountry campsites, and possible water sources on the trails.
    Zion National Park Map // Plan your trip to Zion National Park with this travel guide complete with info on campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.

    What are your favorite things to do in Zion National Park? Do you have any additional tips to add to this travel guide for planning a visit? Leave a comment below!

    Plan your trip to Zion National Park with this travel guide complete with info on campgrounds, must-do trails, permits, park shuttle & more.

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    1. I am planning a trip to Zion for this spring (end of March/early April). When you visited last April, were most of the trails hike-able? Was snow ever a problem?

    2. Hey Kristen, sawadii kha!

      I am researching a trip Zion and came across your post via another blog. Thanks for the super helpful tips and accessible approach.

      Were the narrows super awesome? Any other day hikes you recommend?

      1. The Narrows were really amazing. I’d recommend doing it from the top down. You’ll get to see some of the more isolated parts of the Park and encounter less people. The Subway is also a really cool day hike. You need a permit, but it’s totally worth the effort. Let me know if you have other questions. Thanks!

    3. I really appreciate this article…thanks for providing such great information in one place! I live in Utah and have grown up travelling to the Parks, but I’m still amazed at the beauty of Zion every time I visit. I’m excited to follow along on your adventures!

      1. Thanks so much for the comment and glad you found the post helpful! Zion is so amazing…every time it gets better. I also Love your Utah hiking post too! As a new Utah transplant, I’m going to have to check some of these out. Thanks – Kristen

    4. I’m planning on leaving L.A. around 7 pm and getting there around 2 am.. What do I do if I’m waiting for a spot at the south campground? Is there any overnight parking that I can park and wait till morning to find a open campsite?

    5. Hey Kristen,
      I am so excited that Linda showed me your blog!! I have had a trip to Zion planned for months now and this would have been so helpful when I was starting, but it is still really helpful now! We are all going to take a trip over there labor day weekend from Thursday to Monday. We are camping the Narrows Saturday night, and from your blog post it looks like Angel’s Landing and Observation Point would be really good day hikes for maybe Thursday and Friday. Do you have any suggestions for other fun little day hikes or things to see to get the most out of our first Zion trip? Thanks so much!

      1. Hey Monique! Great to hear from you. You should definitely do Angel’s Landing. I would suggest doing that first before the holiday crowds show up and do it as early or late in the day as possible when it will be less busy. If you do it early in the day, you can continue hiking up that trail towards the West Rim. Observation Point is also awesome and the view is even better than Angel’s Landing in my opinion. You can also do a side trip to Hidden Canyon from that trail if you have extra time. As for other stuff, the drive up Highway 12 to the other end of the park is very cool and there are a zillion places you can pull off and hike around. Hope that is helpful! Have a blast and hopefully I can connect with you and Linda soon. -Kristen

    6. If you had a choice between doing the Zion Narrows Top Down Route or doing Angels Landing and Observation Point, which would you suggest? I only have one day there so all 3 are impossible.

      1. In warmer months, like May – August, I would say the Narrows. It’s really something special. In colder months, the Narrows would still be nice, but you’d need a dry suit, so you need to think about whether or not you want to hike that far in a dry suit. You also need a permit for the narrows even as a day hike, while Angel’s Landing and Observation Point don’t require a permit. So that is also something to consider.

    7. Hello,
      I am planning to visit Zion in the second week of June of this year. I would like to take my family through the narrows. I have my beautiful wife, and a 3 and 1 year old girls. Would you say that this is a good hike for them for the day? Also, where is a good place to park the car? I know that there is a shuttle, but knowing of a good spot for parking the car would be great advice. Also, would doing the subway be a bad idea with children? thank you for sharing your pictures and information. Very helpful information. Spot on.

      1. Hey Timothy –

        I’m not sure the Narrows is appropriate for kids that young…The current is slow but can still be powerful and I think it might be difficult for kids that young to manage. What you could do is take the Riverside trail from the road end to the mouth of the narrows and then make a decision then. You don’t need a permit to hike it from the bottom. The Subway is a pretty difficult day hike so I also don’t think that would be a good option.

        Parking is by the visitors center or in town. Hope that’s helpful.

        Cheers, Kristen

    8. Hi Kristen! My husband and I are planning a 2 week camping trip to the national parks in Utah and Arizona the last week of April-May for our honeymoon. How much time would you say that we should plan to spend in Zion? Thank you!

      1. Sounds like a great trip! I’d give yourself at least 3 days in Zion. That will give you time to do the Narrows, Observation Point, and Angel’s Landing, which I think are the main highlights.

    9. Hi Kristin
      Thanks for all the information here.
      We are planning a backpacking trip this fall in Zion but cannot find a map of the backcountry campsites. Any idea where I can find them?

    10. Hi Kristin! First thank you for sharing all this great information. I am planning a Zion, Escalante and, if time, Bryce trip with a 10′ vintage trailer attached to a 4WD truck. Do all of the camping spots you mention allow a tiny trailer? (heck, its smaller than some people’s tents LOL) I am also older and I think some of the advice you gave concerning safety and doability for kids might just help me as well! I fancy myself a tough old lady, but the altitude and heat will certainly put a limit on what I can do. How is the heat normally in early June? Thanks!!

      1. Sounds like you are going to have an awesome trip Kathy! You should be great to go with your trailer and truck. Check out this information from the NPS for more details,, The heat definitely can be warming up in June but luckily you are going early June and just remember if you are able to do any higher elevation hikes that will help with the heat.

    11. Thanks Kristin for a great blog and tourist guide. I plan on visiting Zion for 2 days. I am in fairly good physical condition, so the different hikes you have highlighted here shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. How would you recommend I arrange my itinerary. I assume I would take the shuttle each day to the different trail start points? Any advice would be greatly appreciated

      1. Graham, that is awesome to hear you are heading to Zion. I would definitely check the weather conditions when you get there and then make decisions based on the weather. The Narrows has recently been closed so that could adjust your itinerary. Also keep in mind to be aware of the day you hike the Narrows as it is highly likely your shoes will need a day or two to dry out fully! Have an awesome adventure! -Kim

    12. Any advise for hikes with kids? I’ll be in Zion in a month with my 5 year old and 9 year old. I’d love to do angels landing and observation point but I think it’s more than they can handle

      1. Emily that is so exciting to hear you are going to be in Zion. Angels Landing and Observation Point are definitely a bit tough on kids. I would definitely recommend the paved walk along the narrows and exploring the narrows a little bit–the really nice thing about the narrows is that you can go as far as you want and then turn back. Weeping Rock and Emerald Pools trail are two other great trails for kids.

    13. Hi Kristen,

      I found your blog a few months back and I love how easy you make it to explore such beautiful places! I’ve googled and Googled like crazy but I always come back to your blog cause it makes more sense! My boyfriend and I will be visiting Zion at the end of July (weather permitting) and we only have a day there. After reading your blog I am assuming that the Narrow would be best for us to try just to get some views in but we are also considering camping overnight as well. I have only camped once in my adult life, plenty as a kid, and my boyfriend hasn’t at all haha. While I know we can figure it all out, do you recommend that this is good place for new camper to stay a night? Also are there any campsite there are right near or on the water? Thanks so much!!

      1. Hey there,

        I’ve done a bit more research on the Narrows and we’re not sure that we want to hike in the water without having a shower to head back to before we drive back home to Phoenix afterward, any recommendations on quick walks for drives so we can see the park as best as possible?


        1. The Watchman Trail and Angel’s Landing would be alternatives. However, most likely in the Narrows you won’t be more than knee deep depending on how far you go up.

      2. The campgrounds in the Park have clean bathrooms, safe drinking water, and easy access to all of the sites in the park. You’ll need to arrive early in the morning to try to snag one of the first come first serve sites though, since they go fast. The campgrounds in the park are located right on the Virgin River. There are also privately owned campgrounds in town if the park ones are full. Have fun!

        1. Hey Kristen,
          Some friends and I are planning a last minute trip to Zion and I am trying to figure out what I need to do. We are big into adventures and just want to do a couple days of backpacking and camping in the wilderness. Do we have to stay at a campground or can we just take off hiking and set up camp when we get tired or find a good spot?

          1. Hello, Larry, thanks for reaching out. Have you checked out the Zion National Park website yet? Here is the link for more information on backpacking there: You can make reservations at backcountry campsites up to 3 months in advance and you do need to plan ahead as you will need to get a wilderness permit as well. If you are unable to get a permit last minute for everybody in your group there are still incredible big adventures in the park.

    14. Your blog post has been so helpful! I am planning literally a last minute trip to Zion for this coming weekend! Planning to leave CO early Friday AM (leave Zion Tuesday AM) but of course won’t arrive until later Friday evening, so do you know of any places I could car camp for the night as I’m sure most spots will be taken. I am fond of dispersed camping and plan to head to REI in the AM to pick up the Zion map you mentioned! Also, I have found some open days for Sunday or Monday night I believe in the narrows from top down with availability, but I was just wondering how that works (hike with my entire pack from top down and spend the night at whichever place I found an opening for, spend the night and then finish the hike out the next day? Are all of the campsites listed on the reservation website within the narrows or do I need to stay in the narrows campsites for the top down?) Is it super strenuous from top down having a full pack with gear, tent, etc? Thanks so much!

      1. Hey Meleah, so sorry we didn’t get back to you in time before your trip! We hope you had a great adventure in Zion.

    15. Hi Kristen,

      My husband and I will be going early in October. What trails do you recommend? Are the Narrows an option at this time of the year?

    16. Hi Kristen,
      Love your blog! Are guided hikes in Zion recommend? Or will we easily and safely be able to navigate on our own?
      Thanks in advance!

      1. Hello Shayna, you can easily navigate hikes on your own in Zion. Make sure to stop in at the Visitor Center and talk with the Rangers if you need any additional suggestions or support–they are great!

    17. Hi Kristen! Thank you so much for this amazing and informative site. We are planning a trip to Zion in either April/May or October. I’ve seen a few things online about the tent caterpillar infestation at the campgrounds in April/May, which can apparently make things unpleasant, because they rain down from the trees and cover tables, tents, and any other surface. Did you have any problem with tent caterpillars while you were there? Thanks so much!

    18. Hi! Thank you so much for all the great info! I love reading your posts. I am so excited about an upcoming hiking trip to Zion in April. We are coming from Texas and are planning to stay in Kanab. We will be hiking for 3 days and hope to hike Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, Observation Point and see what else we might be able to get in. When driving in, can we park at canyon junction to get on the shuttle for the day, or will we need to go on to park at the visitors center?

      1. Hi Jennifer sounds like you have an amazing trip planned! There is VERY limited parking at Canyon Junction, I would plan to park at the visitor’s center–the shuttle system is really good in Zion.

    19. Just curious. My family collects National Park Junior Ranger items, and I was wondering, if in your travels you have collected any Jr. Ranger badges and patches? And if you have, do you have any extras for sale or trade? It is a hobby we do as a family; travel to National Parks and do the Junior Ranger program collecting Junior Ranger items.

      1. Hello Pat! Thanks so much for reaching out! My nieces love completing & earning their Jr. Ranger badges as well! We do not have any extras for sale/trade but we wish you best of luck in visiting all the parks.

    20. Hi Kristen,
      Thanks for an amazing site with a lot of helpful information! I’m planning for a solo trip to Utah (from Sweden!) at the end of August and Zion will be my first stop. I’m planning for 3 days, and consider for the longer day hike observation point or west rim trail. Which one do you recommend? How about getting to the trail head för west rim trail? I’m a bit nervous about hiking alone, but your site gives a lot of courage 🙂 Thanks!

      1. The West Rim is best done as an overnight backpacking trip and requires a shuttle. So since you are traveling alone, I’d recommend Observation Point. There will be a ton of other people on the trail, so you won’t feel all by yourself. Do note that the Observation Point trail is currently closed due to rockfall. Hopefully it will be open by August.

    21. Hi Kristen:
      my husband and I are trying to figure out a good hiking trip September/October this year…I have always wanted to see Zion/Bryce area but my husband has his sights set on Mt. Shasta. We live in Southern California and will drive where ever it is we go too. We will stay in a hotel/lodge – we have no camping gear and honestly it scares the heck out of me to stay in a tent…We are avid hikers…any advice you can give would be appreciated!

      1. Hi Valerie! September/October is a great time for a hiking trip because crowds disperse after Labor Day weekend and the weather is still nice. Shasta, Zion, and Bryce are all good options. Mt Shasta is a large mountain that requires more serious mountaineering to summit, but the area surrounding Mt Shasta has plenty of hiking trails, lakes, and waterfalls. From my limited experience in the Shasta area, things are more spread out so you’ll likely need to do a bit of research to determine where you want to base yourself and where you want to hike. Zion is gorgeous and is one of my favorite national parks next to Yosemite. What’s nice about Zion is that there’s a lodge directly in the park (Zion National Park Lodge) so you can stay right in the park surrounded by beautiful scenery and access plenty of hiking trails from there. Bryce can be done as a day trip (2 hrs one way) from Zion, or I imagine there are lodging options in that area as well although I’m not directly familiar. I’d recommend doing a little more research on both locations (Shasta and Zion) and to look up photos of both regions so you and your husband can get an idea of what you prefer. Have a wonderful trip!

    22. Thank you for explaining that some of the best times to visit Zion National Park are in the Fall around October and November. My wife and I love to go hiking. We hate the heat though so it would be nice to go explore the park this Fall if COVID-19 hasn’t closed it down.

    23. Hi, my husband and I will be in Vegas the first weekend in October and we are planning to spend a day in Zion. Do you think the water will be too cold to hike the Narrows? We would be going from the bottom up and probably only going about 4 miles in. Since that would be 8 miles round trip, I just can’t physically go any further than that.

    24. Update. Tickets are no longer needed for the Zion Shuttle. Once you have entered the park paying the fee or using a park pass, you can board any shuttle for free without needing tickets.

    25. Hello Kirsten,
      Is Zion National Park Lodge ideal place to stay and use it as a base for 5 days exploring Utah’s mighty fives?

      1. It’s about a 5 hour drive (one-way) from Zion to Arches National Park, so you wouldn’t be able to do that in a day. Realistically, you’d probably only be able to visit Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef if you decide to base yourself at the Zion National Park Lodge.

    26. 3/16/24. A article update is needed. Please note that the Las Vegas airport has changed its name from McCaren to Harry Reid International Airport. A ceremony was held December 15, 2021.