When you travel to Utah you will find several more national parks in the State and they are all worth visiting, but this one is not to be missed. Is awesome!
In this post you will find a practical guide on how to visit Zion National Park, the best views, the best treks and I will give you several tips to make you fall in love with this place.
The first thing you should keep in mind if you are thinking of traveling to Utah is that you will need to rent a car. It is necessary to visit practically all the interesting places of the State. You will love traveling through the desert roads where the landscape is like a movie.
You have several options to enter the park. Most car rentals you can choose the navigation option. But if you buy a sim card for the United States (something I advise) you can use the google maps application to get there.
1. Zion National Park from Springdale
This is the most common option. Access the Park from the south, from Springdale. Here you will find the Zion National Park Visitor Center.
The high season and with more visitors runs from the end of March to the beginning of November. And don’t be surprised that if you arrive after 9am you already find the parking lot full. You can leave the car in the town. From the same town every day there are free transfers to the park.
This service has 8 stops and only runs from March to November.
2. Zion National Park from the North
If you want to access the Park from the north, you must do so via the road that connects the Park with Mount Carmel.
This area is less popular, so you will find far fewer people. As soon as you arrive at the park you will be amazed by the views.
3. Zion National Park from Kolob Canyons
Kolob Canyons is an area that belongs to the National Park, but it is an annex. It is the least popular part. Although I recommend that you visit the main entrances, if you have time to spare and want to explore this area, you should add one more day to your route through the Park.
2. Zion National Park Hours and Fees
Zion National Park is open 24 hours. However, the visitor center as well as the booths where you will have to buy the ticket are open from 8am to 5pm every day.
The ticket price changes depending on the ticket you choose. And all passes are valid for 7 days.
Prices (remember that prices may have changed):
– For walkers or bicycle: $20 per person
– For motorcycles: $30 per vehicle
– For cars: $35 per vehicle
If you are thinking of visiting more National Parks in the United States, there are many in Utah! It is more worthwhile to buy the annual ticket to enter all the National Parks for $80. It is valid for all passengers in the same vehicle or for 4 people, if you access on foot.
You can buy the “Annual Pass” at the ticket offices of any National Park in the country or online.
3. How to get around Zion National Park
Most of the most popular and marked routes depart from Zion Canyon Scenic Highway. You can use this road without problems from November to March. Once high season arrives, from March to November the road is closed. So if you go in high season, you can only drive to Canyon Junction, which is the point from where this photogenic road starts.
During these high season months, you have buses to move around the park. This service connects the main places of interest and they have a very fluid frequency. They pass every 10 minutes approx.
Take in the views from the Canyon Junction Bridge
You will find one of the most impressive views of Zion National Park from the Canyon Junction Bridge. It does not require any type of effort, you can arrive by car, make a stop and enjoy this wonder.
Zion-Mt. Carmel Scenic Highway
The road that connects Zion National Park with Mount Carmel is beautiful. It is a 12-mile road (almost 20 kilometers approx) where you can enjoy different landscapes of a thousand colors and shapes. The road is passable and in very good condition, the bad thing is the curves for those who get dizzy.
Along the road you will find some areas to be able to stop the car, and depending on the time of year, you may be able to stop at each curve because it is barely passable. The views from any point are impressive! You will take thousands of photographs, I assure you.
Court of Patriarchs
When you get on the park bus you will see that you have many options for stops. And you will have to decide between some if you have little time to enjoy the Park. One of the stops is Court of Patriarchs and I totally recommend it. Once you arrive, walking a couple of minutes you will reach a viewpoint to enjoy spectacular views. The three rocky mountains named Abraham, Isaac and Jacob after the three biblical patriarchs.
Checkerboard Mesa is one of the most famous formations in Zion National Park. It is grayish in color that stands out against the reddish landscape that surrounds it. If you go by car, there are several areas where you can park.
Its popular name is said because over the years a grid of cracks has been formed, reminiscent of a checkerboard.
Zion Human History Museum
In the park you can also visit a museum, which you will find near the entrance. In it there is a huge model of the Park and you can see a short documentary about the changes that have been experienced over the years.
Most notable are some exhibits of American Indian culture.
As I mentioned before, Kolob Canyons is the least popular area of the park. From the north entrance you will have to drive almost 1 hour to get there. It is an elevated area from where you can enjoy better panoramic views of the park. The most popular time to visit this area is in the afternoon, since when sunset begins the red of the park intensifies much more.
Where to stay to visit Zion National Park
Stay inside Zion National Park
Inside the Park you have a couple of options to stay. One of the most popular is camping. There are three camping areas; South Campground, Watchman Campground, and Lava Point Campground. You will find them open from March to November. They are arid areas with hardly any shade, and very basic. You must book in time, at least 2 or 3 weeks in advance online. The cost is $20 per night.
If you want to stay in the park, but you prefer it to be in an accommodation , the only one inside the enclosure is the Zion Lodge.
If you have it clear, you will have to book many months in advance and you must take into account that it is not very cheap. Prices start at $200 a night.
Sleeping inside the Park is impressive. Also, when day visitors return to town or leave, you will find another facet of the place that is worth knowing. Tranquility, starry nights…
Staying in Springdale
Springdale is the closest town to the Park entrance. In addition, you can leave the car in the town and access the park with the free transfers.
Sleeping in Springdale is cheaper (although it is still expensive) and you also have shops, restaurants.
When to visit Zion National Park?
We traveled to Utah in May and had sunny and hot days, reaching 30 degrees.
The high season is considered from the end of March to the beginning of November, with the busiest peaks in summer. So if you are available to travel whenever you want, I would recommend doing it in April, May or October , so you can enjoy a more neutral climate and fewer people. Try to avoid holidays like Easter. They say it’s crazy!
In summer temperatures are around 40-45 degrees. So if you are thinking of going on walks, make sure you always go very well protected from the sun and with plenty of water. Despite the heat, summer storms are usually common, although not long lasting.
In spring , the green color of the vegetation contrasts with the more arid areas and the clay of the mountains. The climate is usually milder and yes, the rains are usually common, although not long lasting.
Autumn has even more warm colors in the park. The temperatures are milder and it is perfect to get to know the area with few people.
From the beginning of November the temperatures begin to fall. And that is when the rainy season begins and even snow at some points in winter. The worst thing is the layers of ice that accumulate on the trails. That is why the Park receives few visitors during these months.