Planning a trip to Zion National Park? If you’re looking to make the most of your time in this incredible place, you’ll be blown away by how much you can discover with just two days in Zion National Park.
Zion National Park, located in southwestern Utah, is a true gem of the American West, and one of my all time favorite Parks to visit! Here you’ll find breathtaking landscapes and exhilarating hikes like no other. This itinerary guide covers everything you need to know to plan the ultimate two days in Zion National Park.
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Why Visit Zion National Park?
With stunning red rock canyon vistas around every corner, soaring sandstone cliffs and narrow slot canyons, Zion National Park is a jewel of the National Park system. Whether you’re into strenuous hikes, family-friendly strolls, climbing, canyoneering, or scenic driving, there is bucket-list adventure to be found in Zion National Park.
The awe-inspiring scenery and world-famous hikes and canyon climbs makes Zion one of the most popular National Parks in the United States.
In 2022, nearly 4.7 million visitors made their way to Zion National Park. Although Zion National Park is nearly 230 square miles (146,597 acres) in size (the 36th largest National Park) most of those 4.7 million visitors congregate in the narrow but beautiful Zion Canyon.
Zion Canyon is the beating heart of Zion National Park. Only one road, Zion Canyon Drive, runs 6 miles through the Canyon from the entrance of the Park in Springdale, Utah to the Temple of Sinawava, where the Virgin River forms the stunning slot canyon known as The Narrows.
Powerful flash floods along the Virgin River carved through layers of Navajo Sandstone to form Zion Canyon. Over time, the river sliced the narrow Zion Canyon as we know it today. The Canyon is nearly 3,000 feet deep in some places, and is known for its famous slot canyons and soaring sandstone peaks like Angel’s Landing.
Zion National Park is one of five National Parks within the state of Utah, known as Utah’s “Mighty Five.” In addition to visiting Zion, it’s possible to see dozens of other National Parks, National Forests, National Monuments and State Parks within a few short hours of this Park, making Zion one of the ultimate US Road Trip destinations!
Zion National Park Quick Facts
Where: Springdale, Utah
Entrance Fee: $35 per vehicle. $20 per person if entering as a pedestrian or via the Springdale Shuttle. (More about Shuttles in ‘Getting Around Zion National Park’ below).
Traveling to more than 2 National Parks or National Forests this year? Purchase an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass for $80, which covers entrance fees at all National Parks and NPS managed sites.
Kid Friendly: Yes. Several trails in Zion are easy enough for even young children. Note that some trails, like Angel’s Landing, are not appropriate for children, and many trails feature steep canyon drop offs with no railings. Watch your children carefully at all times.
Dog Friendly: No. Dogs are only permitted on the paved Pa’rus Trail. Toxic algae blooms in the Virgin River are toxic to dogs, and have resulted in pet fatalities. Do not let any pets enter or drink from the Virgin River.
Zion National Park is divided into two districts: Zion Canyon and the Kolob Canyons. Most visitors will spend their trip in the Zion Canyon area. The Kolob Canyons area is not accessible from Zion Canyon. It takes approximately 1 hour to drive to Zion Canyon to Kolob Canyons.
Zion National Park is Indigenous Land
Zion National Park was home to the Ancestral Pueblo people until approximately 1300 AD/CE. Ancestral Puebloan rock houses and petroglyph carvings are found throughout the Park and the Southwest.
The Southern Paiute called Zion Valley home when Mormon settlers began arriving to the area in 1858. The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah continue to live in the Zion and Bryce Canyon area to this day.
Explorer John Wesley Powell is alleged to have coined the name “Mukuntuweap” for Zion Canyon, thought to be an Indigenous name for the canyon meaning, “straight canyon.” Zion was first designated Mukuntuweap National Monument in 1909, and re-designated Zion National Park in 1919.
Never deface or disturb archaeological sites and always practice respect and Leave No Trace when visiting.
Is 2 Days Enough in Zion National Park?
Is it your first visit to Zion National Park? Once you get a taste of this red rock wonderland, you’re probably never going to want to leave. But if you’re short on time, I recommend first time visitors should try and spend at least two full days exploring Zion National Park.
With 2 full days in Zion National Park, you’ll have time to experience the best highlights this Park has to offer. This 2 day Zion National Park itinerary includes both the Narrows and Angel’s Landing (or another canyon rim hike), as well as drive the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway.
Really short on time? If you only have one day in Zion, it’s still possible to see some of the best sights and hikes. Check out How to Spend One Epic Day in Zion National Park, here.
If you have three or more days to spend in Zion, you can explore both the Narrows and Zion’s famous canyon hikes, as well as some of Zion’s lesser known trails, spend a night or two backpacking in the red-rock wilderness, or take a day trip to nearby Bryce Canyon National Park. Explore more things to do in Zion National Park if you have 3+ days, here.
Tips for Planning an Epic 2 Days in Zion National Park Itinerary
When planning your 2 days in Zion National Park itinerary, here are a few important tips I’ve learned from my own visits to Zion over the years.
First, some hikes in Zion require a permit. The only permit required for this two days in Zion itinerary is an Angel’s Landing Permit. Don’t want to hike Angel’s Landing or can’t get a permit? This guide includes sevearl alternative suggested hikes. Learn more about what kinds of hikes require permits (and how to score one yourself) by scrolling to the the “Angel’s Landing Permits, Wilderness & Canyoneering Permits in Zion” section, below.
Start early. Zion is a very busy park, so to avoid the worst crowds, try and start your day as early as possible. The first shuttle leaves the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 6 a.m. during peak season.
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to personal vehicles when the Zion Canyon Shuttle is operating (usually late-May to Thanksgiving). That means most visitors will have to use the Shuttle system to access most stops on their itinerary, including Angel’s Landing, the Narrows, and Emerald Pools.
Check updated Shuttle schedules here, and learn more about Getting Around Zion, below.
Plan your hardest hikes (Angel’s Landing, Observation Point, the Narrows) first thing in the morning when desert temperatures are at their lowest and crowds are at their smallest.
Don’t forget lunch! Hiking in the desert is hard work, and you’ll want a midday break to relax, re-energize, and avoid the peak crowds during your Zion National Park itinerary. Pack a lunch to enjoy at the Visitor Center or on the grassy area in front of Zion Lodge.
The Castle Dome Cafe at Zion Lodge offers coffee and breakfast pastries in the a.m. and burgers, hot dogs, and french fries for lunch.
If you are staying outside the Park, consider returning to your hotel in Springdale for a few hours to grab lunch before returning to do some easier hikes in the afternoon.
Two Days In Zion National Park Itinerary
With two full days, you’ll have time to experience both the Narrows and Angel’s Landing (or another canyon rim hike), as well as drive the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway.
Check out this sample two day Zion National Park itinerary that covers the best must-see highlights of Zion National Park.
Day 1: Angel’s Landing & Canyon Overlook
Your first day in Zion is all about adventurous hikes and absolutely epic canyon views! Get an early start to beat the heat and the crowds.
Depending on your hiking abilities, tolerance for risk, or fear of heights, there are a few different hikes you should consider exploring today. I recommend hiking one of the following epic hikes on your first day in Zion:
- Angel’s Landing (Strenuous, 5 hours)
- Scout’s Lookout (Moderate,3 hours)
- Observation Point (Strenuous, 5 hours)
Not sure which hike is right for you? Keep reading to explore each of these hikes in detail.
No matter which hike you pick, make sure to pack plenty of water, bring a map or GPS download (cell phones won’t work on these trails!), and carry the rest of your day hiking essentials.
After finishing your hike, return on the shuttle and enjoy a well deserved lunch in Springdale, and a quick rest at your hotel or campsite.
If you plan on renting gear for the Narrows tomorrow, now is a good time to pick it up in Springdale. Here you can also get updated information of conditions on the Virgin River and inside the Narrows.
In the afternoon, drive the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway to the Canyon Overlook parking area.
The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway connects Zion Canyon with Bryce Canyon National Park and the Grand Canyon North Rim via Highway 89. Spend a few hours exploring this magnificent scenic drive, with views of Pine Creek Canyon and Zion’s famous sandstone rock formations. Along the drive, stop and explore the overlooks and short hikes like Grand Arch, Checkerboard Mesa and the Canyon Overlook hike.
The 1.1 mile Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel is an engineering marvel. The Highway and Tunnel were constructed over 3 years and completed in 1930. They are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Zion Canyon Overlook Trail is one of Zion’s best easy to moderate hikes.
The Overlook has breathtaking views of Zion Canyon, comparable to Angel’s Landing, This trail however is kid-friendly and theres no death-defying climbing at the end. The 1 mile out and back trail is mostly flat and easy. There are some steep canyons drop offs on the side of the trail, so watch small children carefully.
After savoring the views, return to your hotel or campground. Enjoy dinner at some of the many restaurants in Springdale or at the Red Rock Dining Room in Zion Lodge.
No Zion 2 day itinerary would be complete without mentioning Angel’s Landing, Zion’s most famous, and infamous, hike. This 4.3 mile, 1,850′ gain strenuous hike is commonly called “The Most Dangerous Hike in America.”
After ascending 21 steep switchbacks called “Walters Wiggles”, hikers make it to Scout’s Lookout.
Here, a ranger will check your permit. Hikers must climb the final 0.5 miles over a narrow ridge with 1000’+ cliff drops on either side. At times the trail is only a few feet wide (or less) and requires the use of anchored chains to climb up and down.
Make no mistake, this is NOT the hike for you if you have any fear of heights. Fatalities do occur. Brave hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of Zion Canyon below.
If you secured an Angel’s Landing permit, head out on the earliest shuttle possible (6 a.m. during peak season) to the Grotto shuttle stop and start your climb. The entire hike takes about 5 hours.
About Angel’s Landing Permit Reservations:
As of April 1, 2022, a permit is required to hike to Angel’s Landing past Scout’s Lookout. A permit is not required to visit Scout’s Lookout, a canyon overlook that does not require chains to access and is a worthy hike in its own right. Angel’s Landing permits are issued by lottery. Most lottery permits will be issued through quarterly preseason lotteries. A select number of permits will be issued in daily day-before lotteries. Learn more about Angel’s Landing permits in the dedicated section, below.
Don’t have an Angel’s Landing permit? Traveling with kids? Or just don’t love the idea of dangling 1000 feet above the canyon floor? You can still hike the Angel’s Landing trail until Scout’s Lookout.
This 3.6 mile round trip hike with 1,200′ elevation gain ascends the same route to the canyon rim as Angel’s Landing. You’ll be rewarded with awesome views of the canyon below, and a peak at the perilous permit-only chains section that you won’t have to traverse.
The hike to Scout’s Lookout takes approximately 2-3 hours.
For a longer hike, with arguably even BETTER views than Angels Landing, hike to Observation Point via the East Rim Trail.
On this strenuous trail, you’ll climb through the narrow Echo Canyon to arguably the best view in Zion National Park.
This 7-mile hike starts at the Weeping Rock trailhead and climbs a series of switchbacks to the East Rim Trail. After 2,650 feet of elevation gain, hikers are rewarded with incredible views looking down on Zion Canyon and Angel’s Landing.
To access the trail, take the Zion shuttle to Weeping Rock (Shuttle Stop #7). This hike takes approximately 5 hours round trip.
East Rim Trail is closed until further notice due to a major rockfall. Observation Point can be accessed via a 7.0 mile round trip hike via the East Mesa Trail This trailhead is located outside the National Park. A 4×4 vehicle is required to make it to the trailhead. East Zion Adventures offers a paid seasonal shuttle to the trailhead.
Day 2: Zion Narrows & Emerald Pools
On day 2 in Zion National Park, you’ll get up early again to tackle one of my favorite hikes in any National Park: The Narrows.
There are multiple routes to access this 16 mile slot canyon, and this route, commonly called “bottom-up,” is the most popular.
To access the trail, ride the shuttle all the way to the last stop (#9) the Temple of Sinawava. The paved Riverside trail takes you from the Shuttle to the river.
Here the wide Zion Canyon narrows significantly until it is just wide enough for the Virgin River to flow through. There is no trail here, just follow the Virgin River up to 5 miles upstream, before turning around.
This route does not require a permit or canyoneering experience. Flash floods are deadly in this canyon. Learn more about safety and hiking the Narrows, here.
Do not ever drink the water or submerge your head in the river. The Virgin River has experienced high-levels of cyanobacteria, a toxic algae, in recent years. Learn more, here.
What Gear Do I Need for Hiking The Narrows?
You WILL get wet on this hike. Depending on conditions and how far you hike, you may be wading through water up to your waist. Wear moisture-wicking layers you don’t mind taking a swim in (not jeans or cotton), and don’t forget to bring a warm layer jacket. It gets chilly in the shaded canyon, even in summer. For shoes, it’s best to choose sturdy, closed-toed shoes with a good grip like hiking boots, trail runners, or canyoneering boots. Some hikers opt to wear closed-toe water sandals, but the riverbed is full of small sharp rocks and slippery boulders, so I was glad for the stability and production of real shoes.
Trekking poles will help you keep your balance on the rocky riverbed. A dry bag will keep your electronics, snacks, and warm layers safe if you take a fall or have to wade through high water.
In colder temps, you may need to wear waterproof pants, or dry suits to protect yourself from the cold water temperatures.
Waterproof gear can be rented from outfitters in Springdale like Zion Outfitter.
After finishing your hike, return on the shuttle and enjoy a picnic lunch in front of Zion Lodge or grab a burger and fries from the Castle Dome Cafe.
If you still have the energy, cross the street and over the bridge from the Zion Lodge to access the Lower Emerald Pools Trail. Lower Emerald Pools is an easy 1.5 miles round trip. Middle and Upper Pools is a moderate 2.5 miles round trip.
2023 Update: The bridge to access the trail from Zion Lodge / Shuttle Stop #5 is closed indefinitely due to structural issues. Unfortunately, that means there are no easy ways to access this trail while the bridge is closed. To access the Lower Pools trail, bridge access is available from Shuttle Stop #4, Court of the Patriarchs, which adds 3 miles of moderate hiking, and Stop #6, the Grotto, which adds 2 miles of moderate hiking. Check trail updates, here.
Explore the verdant cascades before returning to your hotel or campsite. Its time to relax and unwind after two epic days in Zion National Park.
Want to take this itinerary to-go? Download a printable PDF Zion Itinerary Guide and shop other National Park Guides, here!
Looking for more things to do in Zion? Extending your trip, or maybe only have 1 day? Check out the Epic Zion National Park Itinerary Guide: How to Plan 1, 2 and 3+ Perfect Days in Zion.
Ready to plan your trip to Zion National Park? Learn about the closest airports, driving directions, and more in my in-depth guide, here: Closest Airport To Zion National Park: How To Get To Utah’s Best National Park
The Best Times to Visit Zion National Park
Zion National Park is open all year. During summer, expect scorching hot temperatures and big crowds. The shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall are my favorite times to visit Zion. There are far fewer visitors and generally mild weather.
Spring in Zion National Park (March – April)
Spring is a popular time to visit Zion. Crowds are especially large during spring break when kids are out of school. Daytime temperatures are in the 60s and 70’s nighttime lows in the 30s.
Snow and ice are still possible well into spring. When we visited in March we experienced a full snowstorm and ice on Angel’s Landing!
The Zion Canyon shuttle resumes operations in spring, which means you will not be able to drive your own car on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
Be aware, that you may not be able to hike the Narrows in spring. Water levels on the Virgin River can get very high. The Park service closes the canyon when the river flow is over 150 cubic feet per second, or when there is a flash flood warning.
If you do plan on hiking the Narrows in spring, be sure to visit one of the outfitters in Springdale to rent waders and canyoneering boots with waterproof socks to keep dry in the cold, deep water.
Summer in Zion National Park (May – September)
Summer is the most popular time to visit Zion National Park. That means you’ll need to book lodging, rental cars, and other reservations as far in advance as possible.
If you plan on visiting Zion between and early September, prepare for VERY hot temperatures and lots of crowds.
During the day, temps regularly soar above 100, and fall to the70s at night. Make sure to stay hydrated and bring plenty of water on hikes.
Fall in Zion National Park (October – November)
Fall is my favorite time to visit Zion National Park. Daytime temperatures hover around a reasonable X, and nighttime temps dip down to X. Visitor numbers also go down after Labor Day, so you’ll be able to enjoy the Park with far fewer crowds.
Fall is also the best time for hiking in Zion. Water levels in the Narrows are low after a long hot summer, and ice and snow haven’t yet settled on higher elevations like Angel’s Landing.
If you time it right, you’ll also get to see beautiful fall color on the trees in Zion Canyon.
Winter in Zion National Park (December – February)
Winter in Zion is a quiet and magical time. It can also be cold, wet, and icy. Temperatures range from the 50’s during the day, to below freezing at night.
The Zion Canyon shuttle generally does not run during winter. The Shuttle may run during the holidays, and between Christmas and New Years. When the shuttle is not running you can drive your car directly to the trailhead. But be aware, parking is very limited, so make sure to arrive early.
Ice and snow can cover most hiking trails during winter. Bring appropriate winter hiking gear and plenty of warm layers. Do not attempt Angel’s Landing when ice or snow is present. The Narrows will be very cold – make sure to bring or rent drysuits and winter-appropriate canyoneering gear.
Angel’s Landing Permits, Wilderness & Canyoneering Permits in Zion
There are 3 types of permits commonly required for visiting Zion National Park:
- Angel’s Landing Permit
- Canyoneering Permits, including the Zion Narrows (Top-down) and The Subway (Left Fork of the Virgin River)
- Wilderness Backpacking Permits
The only permit required for this two days in Zion itinerary is an Angel’s Landing Permit. Don’t want to hike Angel’s Landing or can’t get a permit? Check out the great alternative hikes in the itinerary guide, above.
Angel’s Landing Permits
Permits are required for the popular, though dangerous, day hike to Angel’s Landing as of April 1, 2022.
A permit is required for all hikers traveling beyond “Scout’s Lookout” to Angel’s Landing (aka all “chains” sections). A permit is NOT required to visit Scout’s Lookout (worth the hike even if you don’t have a permit!) or the West Rim Trail.
Angel’s Landing permits are issued by lottery. Most lottery permits will be issued through quarterly preseason lotteries. A select number of permits will be issued in daily day-before lotteries.
Day-before lottery applicants should apply on recration.gov between 12:01AM and and 3PM the day before they intend to hike. Applicants will be notified by 4PM.
Quarterly permit lottery dates for 2023 are:
For hikes on March 1 to May 31, lottery applications are open January 1 to January 20, 2023. Lottery results are announced January 25, 2023.
For hikes on June 1 to August 31, lottery applications are open April1 to April 20, 2023. Lottery results are announced on April 25, 2023.
For hikes on September 1 to November 30, 2023, lottery applications are open July 1 to July 20, 2023. Lottery results are announced on July 25, 2023.
For hikes on December 1, 2023 to February 29, 2024, lottery applications are open October 1 to October 20, 2023. Lottery results are announced October 25. 2023.
Wilderness & Canyoneering Permits
A wilderness or canyoneering permit is to required to hike The Narrows from the “bottom-up” as described in this itinerary guide, above.
If, however, you’re looking to hike all 16 miles of Zion National Park’s most famous canyon on your itinerary, you will need a day use canyoneering permit.
When hiking the Narrows as an overnight backpacking trip, you will need a wilderness permit and a campsite reservation. You must camp in designated spots assigned to you. There is no at-large camping inside the Narrows.
For both day hikers and campers hikers, permits are obtained online using the Zion reservations system . Reservations are released on the 5th of every month at 10:00 am MT, for the next month. Permits can be reserved up until 5:00 pm MT, the day before, as long as spaces are still available.
When all day-use and backpacking permits are fully booked, additional permits will be made available via the “Last Minute Drawing.” Applications can be submitted up to 7 days prior to your trip date, and until 2 days before at 12pm MT. The drawing is held at 1pm, 2 days before your trip.
A select number of campsites are available on a walk-in first-come-first-served basis. Permits can be obtained in-person the day before or day of your trip at the Wilderness desk.
A canyoneering permit is required for explorations of all Zion canyons requiring the use of descending gear or ropes. A permit is also required for all trips to the Subway (left fork of North Creek). Learn more about canyoneering permits in the Epic Zion National Park Itinerary Guide.
All overnight trips into the Zion wilderness require a wilderness permit. There are dozens of designated backcountry campsites and several at-large dispersed camping zones within Zion.
Getting to Zion National Park
Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah, near the borders of Arizona and Nevada. This area is not exactly remote compared to other Parks, but you will need to plan out your transportation as part of your Zion National Park itinerary.
This section covers the basics of getting to Zion National Park and how to get around Zion. For more details, check out this ultimate in-depth guide to the closest airports, driving directions, and
Ready to plan your trip to Zion National Park? Learn about the closest airports, driving directions, and more in my in-depth guide, here: Closest Airport To Zion National Park: How To Get To Utah’s Best National Park
Zion National Park is not easily accessible by public transportation. That means visitors to Zion will want to drive to the Park or fly into a nearby airport and rent a car. The nearest airport to Zion is St. George Regional Airport.
This map shows the nearest roads, major towns, and other Parks near Zion National Park.
The closest town to Zion is the city of Springdale, Utah. There are many hotels, restaurants, shops, and gear outfitters in town. Springdale is located directly outside the southern entrance to Zion Canyon, on Utah Scenic Byway 9 / Zion-Mt.Carmel Highway / Zion Park Blvd.
A free shuttle runs from Springdale to the Visitor Center inside Zion National Park. Learn more about the Springdale shuttle and Zion Canyon shuttle in the “Getting Round Zion National Park” section, below.
Flying to Zion National Park
Zion National Park is accessible from several regional airports and a few hours from major international airports.
The best airport to get to Zion is Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airpot. LAS is the best combination of inexpensive flights from major airlines and a reasonable driving distance from the Park.
This chart shows the approximate distance to the Zion Visitor Center outside Springdale, Utah.
|St. George Regional Airport (SGU)||47 mi / 1 Hour|
|Cedar City Regional Airport (CDC)||60 mi / 1 Hour|
|Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)*||172 mi / 3 Hours|
|Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)||315 mi / 5 Hours|
Driving to Zion National Park
The Park is bordered by Utah Scenic Byway 9, which runs through the southern portion of the park to Zion Canyon, and Interstate 15, which runs along the western edge of the Park.
Zion Canyon is only accessible from Utah Scenic Byway 9. The Kolob Canyon area is only accessible from Interstate 15.
Zion is a relatively accessible Park, and is located within a day’s drive of many major cities and National Parks. This chart shows the approximate driving times to the Zion Visitor Center outside Springdale, Utah.
|St. George, Utah||47 mi / 1 Hour|
|Bryce Canyon National Park||85 mi / 2 Hours|
|Las Vegas, NV||172 mi / 3 Hours|
|Page, AZ||115 mi / 2.5 Hours|
|Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim)||150 mi / 3 Hours|
|Salt Lake City, UT||315 mi / 5 Hours|
Getting Around Zion National Park
There are a couple of important things to know about getting around when planning your Zion National Park itinerary. This section covers how and when to use the Zion Canyon Shuttle, biking around Zion, as well as shuttles into the Park from Springdale, and vehicle restrictions on the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway.
Zion Canyon Shuttle
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private cars when the Zion Canyon Shuttle is running.
The shuttle typically operates daily from March through November, as well as during the December holidays. That means you’ll likely be using the Shuttle when visiting most of your stops on this Zion National Park itinerary.
Guests of the Zion Lodge can drive on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive in order to access the Lodge.
The Zion Canyon Shuttle connects the Zion National Park Visitor Center with trailheads and sights along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Most visitors board at the Visitor Center. Guests staying at the Zion Lodge can also board the bus to go up canyon from the Zion Lodge Shuttle Stop (#5).
Stops include: The Zion Canyon Visitor Center (Stop #1); the Zion Human History Museum (#2); Canyon Junction (#3); Court of the Patriarchs (#4); Zion Lodge (#5) – stop here for the Emerald Pools; The Grotto (#6) – stop here for Angel’s Landing; Weeping Rock (#7); Big Bend (#8); and The Temple of Sinawava (#9), stop here for the Narrows.
To board the shuttle, park at the visitor center (arrive early!) or take the free Sprindgale Shuttle.
The Springdale Shuttle runs through the town of Springdale and provides service to Zion’s pedestrian and bike entrance, a short walk from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.
This Shuttle is free to use and runs April – October.
The Springdale line makes 9 stops along Zion Park Blvd (Utah Scenic Byway 9) throughout the town of Springdale. Most stops are located at popular hotels and restaurants. If you are within walking distance of the main road through town, Zion Park Blvd, chances are there is a Shuttle stop within easy walking distance.
If you aren’t staying in Springdale, you can park in one of the several paid parking lots around town and walk to the nearest shuttle stop.
Biking Around Zion
Bikes are permitted on all roadways in Zion. Given the crowded parking situation in Zion, biking has become a popular way to get around the Park.
Bikers can cruise 8 miles from Springdale to the Temple of Sinawava / Narrows in about 50 minutes. Bikes are allowed on Shuttle busses, but riders must lift their own bikes on and off the front rack.
Bikers should ride single file on the right side of the road and obey other rules. Helmets are required for all bikers. Class 1 pedal-assist E-bikes are allowed everywhere regular bicycles are permitted.
Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway Vehicle Restrictions
If you’re driving an RV or towing a camper there are important things you need to know about driving during your Zion National Park itinerary.
The narrow and winding Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel was built well before modern RV’s and trailers became commonly used recreation vehicles. A 1989 study found that large vehicles cannot navigate the Tunnel without crossing the double yellow line, leading to several accidents and near-misses.
As a result, all large vehicles must be escorted through the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel by an NPS Ranger. The ranger escort will temporarily limit tunnel traffic to one-way, to ensure safe passage.
A $15 tunnel permit is required to drive all vehicles over 7 feet 10 inches (2.4 meters) in width and/or 11 feet 4 inches (3.4 meters) in height or larger through the tunnel.
Large vehicle permit holders are only permitted to drive the Tunnel during posted seasonal hours. A ranger will assist oversized vehicles in safely navigating the narrow, winding tunnel. Learn more about Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel permits, here.
Where to Stay in Zion National Park
There are tons of options to consider when deciding where to stay during your Zion National Park itinerary. From rustic campgrounds, glamping tents, chain hotels to classic National Park lodges, there are dozens of accommodations available when staying in Zion.
Be aware, reservations during the peak season can book up months to a year in advance (especially for Zion Lodge).
Lodging Inside the Park
In my experience, staying at the Zion Lodge inside the Park is the best option if you really want to maximize your time inside the Park.
Staying inside the Park means you don’t have to battle long lines at the entrance station and can more easily get on an early shuttle to popular trailheads like the Grotto and Temple of Sinawava.
The Zion Lodge, like most National Park lodges, is fairly rustic but in a superb location. Rooms are comfortable and conveniently located. Wi-fi and cell service are both unreliable at the Lodge, so plan on unplugging!
The Red Rock dining room is open year round breakfast – dinner. The seasonal Castle Dome Café offers to-go food for breakfast and lunch.
Campgrounds Inside Zion National Park
There are two established campgrounds inside Zion Canyon. Both tents are RV spots are available at both campgrounds. All campgrounds include drinking water, fire pits, flush toilets, and dump stations.
The Watchman Campground is open year round and located next to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. Reservations are required and can be booked 6 months in advance.
The South Campground is located just south of the Visitor Center along the Pa’rus Trail and Virgin River. Reservations are available 2 weeks in advance.
The Lava Point Campground is located in the Kolob Canyons area of the Park, about 1 hour driving distance from Zion Canyon.
There are no showers or laundry services inside Zion. Both services can be found at retailers in Springdale.
Lodging Outside Zion National Park
Most visitors stay in the town of Springdale, which is located directly outside the Zion Canyon park entrance.
In Springdale, there are dozens of chain and independent hotels. Prices range from “budget” to luxury – but even the budget options may still cost a pretty penny in peak seasons.
The Springhill Suites by Marriott (Shuttle Stop #6) has particularly stunning views of the red rock formations, plus a pool and free breakfast. Other options include, The Best Western Plus (2.5 stars, free wifi, pools & breakfast) the Cliffrose Inn & Suites (4 Star luxury), or the budget-minded Bumbleberry Inn in downtown Springdale.
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