Zion National Park
SeasonThe National Park is open throughout the year with a wide variety of site-seeing, hiking, and climbing opportunities. For most of the year access into the main canyon is by free shuttle bus. In winter, generally from December to March, there are not shuttle buses and private vehicles are allowed in the main canyon. Other roads in the park are always open to private vehicles, year-round.
Zion National Park Highlights
Zion Canyon Section
Many of the park's most well known sites are in Zion Canyon, along the scenic drive. Many of the tallest towers and sandstone monoliths are found here, as are some of the more popular hiking trails.The walls of Zion Canyon reach as high as 3,000ft/914m.
Zion-Mount Carmel Highway
The 11mi/18km long Zion-Mount Carmel Highway goes off on the right at the junction of Pine Creek with the Virgin River, heading for the east entrance to the National Park. It winds its way up the side of Pine Creek Canyon with many sharp bends and then runs through the 1mi/1.6km long (unlighted) Zion Tunnel. Shortly before reaching the east entrance it passes on the right the Checkerboard Mesa, eroded into the chessboard pattern which gives it its name.
Angels Landing Trail
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
The 6mi/10km long Zion Canyon Scenic Drive begins after the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway goes off on the right. On the left are the Sentinel (7,156ft/2,181m) and the Three Patriarchs (6,890ft/2,100m), on the right the Mountain of the Sun (6,723ft/2,049m). Beyond Zion Lodge the road continues up the canyon, passing on the right the Red Arch Mountain (5,929ft/1,807m) and the Great White Throne (6,746ft/2,056m) and on the left Angels Landing (5,791ft/1,765m) and the Organ (5,099ft/1,554m), to end at the Temple of Sinawava (6,014ft/1,833m). Open buses take visitors to the main sights on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
Temple of Sinawava
This huge natural amphitheater is located at the end of the 6mi/10km Zion Canyon Drive. Two pillars in the center of the Temple are known as The Altar and The Pulpit. A trail leads to the spectacular Zion narrows, a scenic gorge.
Zion Canyon Visitor Center
Before the entrance gate to the Zion National Park is a visitor's center next to the IMAX Theater.During high season (start of April to end of October), the 6mi/10km Zion Canyon scenic drive is only accessible via shuttle which is included in the Park's admission fee. The only exception is for visitors with a room reserved at Zion Lodge who are allowed to proceed in their cars or in motor coaches only as far as the lodge.Campgrounds are located a short distance from the entrance.
Emerald Pools Trail
The Emerald Pools Trail (2mi/3.2km) leads to the Emerald Pools, which are fed by waterfalls.Visitors may choose to hike to any or all of the three pools in this area. These trails vary in length from 1 mile round-trip to 3.5 miles round trip. This area features stunning scenery and is popular with children.
The Zion Narrows
The most challenging hike in Zion National Park is the 16mi/25.5km Zion Narrows. The route follows the Virgin River through the narrowest points in the canyon - sometimes as little as 20ft/6m wide with walls up to 2,000ft/610m high. This hike is through the river, walking in the water almost the entire time. Information should be obtained at one of the park's visitor centers before attempting this hike.
From the south entrance of the National Park at Springdale the park road runs past the Watchman (6546ft/1995m; on right) and the West Temple (7809ft/2380m; on left) and up the deeply indented valley of the Virgin River.At the end of the Watchman Trail (2mi/3.2km) there are fine views of the lower part of Zion Canyon and into Oak Creek Canyon.
Weeping Rock Trail
On the Weeping Rock Trail an unusual natural phenomenon can be observed. A nature trail (0.5mi/0.8km) leads to the Weeping Rock, a rock overhang overgrown with plants known as the Hanging Gardens. Water seeping down through the rock encounters an impervious stratum and emerges from the rock above the plants; the rock thus "weeps".
The Pa'rus Trail is a 2mi/3.2km paved route in lower Zion Canyon that follows the Virgin River from the Watchman campground to the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. No cars are allowed on the path. Pa'rus is a Paiute word meaning "bubbling water".
From the south entrance of the National Park at Springdale the park road runs past the Watchman (6,546ft/1,995m; on right) and the West Temple (7,809ft/2,380m; on left) and up the deeply indented valley of the Virgin River.
Canyon Overlook Trail
The short Canyon Overlook Trail (1.25mi/2km) offers a magnificent prospect of Pine Creek Canyon and the Towers of the Virgin on the west rim of Zion Canyon.
East Rim Trail
Hidden Canyon Trail
Riverside Walk (formerly Gateway to the Narrows)
The Riverside Walk is an easy hike that follows the Virgin River for 2mi/3km from the Temple of Sinawava to the beginning of The Narrows.
Sand Bench Trail
The 3.6mi/5.8km Sand Bench Trail in Zion National Park is moderately strenuous, climbing 500ft/152m to an excellent viewpoint of Zion Canyon.
West Rim Trail
On the West Rim Trail (27mi/43km) a tent should be taken for an overnight halt.The strenuous hike has an elevation gain of 3,593ft/1,095m.
The hike through Wildcat Canyon in Zion National Park is a 6mi/9.5km route with majestic views.
Kolob Canyons Section
In the northwest section of the park, are the Kolob Finger Canyons. This section of Zion National Park is less visited, but still incredibly scenic. Located here are a visitor center, a picnic area, a 5-mile paved scenic drive, and 3 hiking trails of various lengths.The sandstone Kolob Canyons get their name from the Mormon scriptures in which "Kolob" is "the star nearest the throne of God".
Kolob Arch Trail
In this part of the park is the strenuous Kolob Arch Trail (14mi/23km), which leads to a free-standing rock arch 310ft/95m high. An overnight halt is possible on this route, but many people do it as a day hike.The Kolob Arch is one of the largest natural spans in the world. Waterfalls can be seen along the trail during and after rainstorms.
Kolob Canyons Visitor Center
From Interstate-15 the Kolob Canyons Road runs past the Visitor Center in the northwest of the park. The road and visitor center are open all year round, unless closed briefly by snow storms.The visitor center is near the site where the first white men known to visit the area passed on October 13, 1776.
More Zion National Park Pictures