Travellers discovering the narrows at Zion National Park, USA

Things to do in  Zion National Park

A sanctuary carved by time

“Zion” translates to “sanctuary” in Hebrew, and that’s exactly what most find here in Southwestern Utah. The Virgin River has carved an immense sandstone canyon, pine clad and some 2,000 feet (610 meters) deep—you’ll want your finger on your camera shutter even before entering the park, as you zig zag down the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway. Once you’re on foot, there’s a long list of things to do in Zion National Park, including hiking to the Emerald Pools, getting your feet wet in The Narrows, or making the sky-high climb to Angels Landing, perhaps the wildest trek of all.

Top 12 attractions in Zion National Park

The Narrows

One of Zion National Park’s most famous hikes, The Narrows are the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, with sandstone walls reaching 1,000 feet (305 meters) high and sometimes 20 feet (6 meters) across. The Virgin River flows underfoot for most of this adventurous trek—be prepared to get wet.More

Zion National Park

Carved over time by the Virgin River, Zion National Park is a remarkable 148,000-acre (59,900-hectare) stretch of white, pink, and red rock formations in southern Utah's canyon country. The state's first national park draws hikers, birders, and nature lovers with its slot canyon walls and its diversity of wildlife.More

Emerald Pools

At the aptly named Emerald Pools, a verdant stream connects a series of three fresh water pools—a picturesque contrast to the earthy red cliffs that dominate Zion National Park. Three hiking trails access the pools, ranging from a short paved route to a more strenuous loop. Flowing waterfalls and crystal-clear pools make this a must-visit spot.More

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is the main artery through Zion National Park. Winding along the Virgin River, the two-lane road is lined with vista points, river access spots, trailheads, and photo opportunities. The route is so popular that, during the busy season, it is only accessible by a park shuttle.More

Angels Landing

The hike to the top of Angels Landing in Zion National Park ranks among the most famous in the world. It’s only moderately challenging until the final half mile, when the trail becomes precipitous and the narrowness of the path—not to mention sheer drop-offs to either side—offers an additional mental challenge. Visitors who make it to the top are rewarded with spectacular views.More

Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel

Upon completion in 1930, the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel was the longest tunnel in the rural US. The 1.1-mile (1.8-kilometer) tunnel serves as the unofficial entrance to the east side of Zion National Park, allowing easy passage between Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway—a national historic landmark.More

Weeping Rock Trail

When the shortest trail in a national park gets wide recognition, you know it’s something special. That’s the case for Zion’s Weeping Rock Trail, a .4-mile (.6-kilometer) mostly paved trek to the underside of a canyon wall that “weeps” water trapped in the cliff’s face. It changes significantly with the seasons, forming icicles in winter, small waterfalls with spring storms, and hanging gardens come summer.More

Virgin River

The Virgin River flows through the heart of Zion National Park and can be credited with carving out the magnificent Zion Canyon. So, whether it’s the spectacular views from the top of Angel’s Landing or the colorful slot canyon known as The Narrows, these national treasures would not exist without the hard work of the Virgin River.More

Zion Canyon

Towering rock formations, colorful slot canyons, and a maze of hiking trails make Zion Canyon the heart of activity in Zion National Park. The Virgin River courses through the green valley floor and painted sandstone cliffs, creating a desert oasis that draws hoards of visitors to the scenic park.More

Court of the Patriarchs

Named after the biblical figures of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the sandstone cliffs known as the Court of the Patriarchs are popular among photographers, rock climbers, and early risers. A visit here doesn’t require much time on its own, but it’s an accessible vantage point for capturing the beauty of the awe-inspiring Zion National Park.More
Zion Human History Museum

Zion Human History Museum

Steps from the Zion Nature Center, the Zion Human History Museum tells this 12,000-year-old story, from the tales of the Anasazi and Paiute all the way to the orchard-planting pioneers. Here, visitors get an artifact-heavy dive into what few associate with this red-rock wonderland: culture.More
Kolob Arch

Kolob Arch

No one’s quite sure whether Kolob Arch is the second, fourth, or maybe sixth-longest arch in the world, but at 287 feet, it’s undoubtedly one of the most impressive. Situated in the northwestern backcountry of Zion National Park, to reach it requires a 7-mile, one-way pilgrimage through the park’s rugged red-rock wilderness—a worthwhile trek indeed.More

Top activities in Zion National Park

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All about Zion National Park

When to visit

Shuttles operate in Zion National Park from March–November, and the majority of visitors (70%) see the park from April–October. If you’re willing to risk chilly weather, March–April and October–November visits can be very rewarding: You still get the easy-access shuttle service, warmth still clings to most days, and the park’s most iconic viewpoints and trails won’t involve fighting for elbow room.

Getting around

Zion’s free shuttles are some of the best in the national park system: They operate from March–November (and also on weekends in February and over the December holidays) and will take you just about anywhere you need to go, including to the nearby town of Springdale. During this time, private vehicles aren’t allowed through the park without reservations at Zion Lodge or Canyon Trail Rides.

Traveler tips

Stay at Majestic View Lodge or Cable Mountain Lodge—you may not technically be in the park, but you might as well be. The Springdale Shuttle stops at both these locations every 10–15 minutes; once in the park, you can pick up the Zion Canyon shuttle and go virtually anywhere. Dine at the Red Rock Grill at Zion Lodge to break up your day in this vertical wilderness.

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People Also Ask

What is the month to visit Zion National Park?

The best month to visit Zion National Park depends on what kind of experience you prefer. The shuttles run April–October, with the busiest months being June–August. If you can, take a shoulder season visit in fall for pleasant weather and more manageable crowds.

What activities are offered at Zion National Park?

There are lots of things to do in Zion National Park, one of the country’s most popular national parks. Some visitors come for the famous hiking trails, like Angel’s Landing or the Narrows. Others simply take the reliable Zion shuttle and get easy-access views. Others prefer to rock climb, picnic, and scout for wildlife.

What should I not miss in Zion?

The Zion-Mt Carmel Highway Scenic Drive takes you over bridges and past colorful hoodoos, cutting through 10 miles (16 kilometers) of the park and connecting the south and east entrances. Take the short hike along the Narrows or to Canyon Overlook—the latter is 0.5 miles (1 kilometer) to canyon views.

How many days do you need at Zion National Park?

It’s not hard to fill a week at Zion National Park, but plan for at least two full days to see the park’s highlights—and get mornings and evenings away from the crowds. You can also fit in a longer hike, like down the Narrows or up to Angel’s Landing.

What is Zion famous for?

Zion—referencing the “kingdom of Heaven” in Hebrew—is famous for its red-rock canyon views, sheer cliffs, and canyoneering opportunities. Its 2,000-foot (610-meter) towers of sandstone make for great climbing and hiking experiences. The Virgin River with its green oasis at the bottom of the canyon flows in stark contrast.

What is there to do in Zion National Park besides hike?

Beyond hiking, other popular things to do in Zion National Park include taking a scenic drive down the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway—it runs 10 miles (16 kilometers) through the park and connects the south and east entrances. You could also hop on and off the park’s shuttle, nabbing easy-access views as you please; dine at Zion National Park Lodge; or leave the crowds behind and stargaze come nightfall.

Frequently Asked Questions
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