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Visiting Zion National Park: The Complete Guide

Post Summary: Visiting Zion National Park

Zion National Park is one of the ICONIC American National Parks. This sweeping canyon park provides some of the most scenic views in any National Park. Two of its hikes are regularly found on people’s hiking bucket lists. All this combined makes for one spectacular National Park that has significant crowds. This makes visiting Zion National Park a must-do for even the most casual National Park explorer.

In this guide, we will be exploring Zion National Park and providing helpful hints and tips for planning a trip to Zion. We will help you avoid the crowds as well as find the best Zion hikes, and where to stay.

The Quick Guide to Visiting Zion National Park National Park

Map of Zion National Park

Click on the Zion Map above to download the official brochure map. If you’d like a PDF copy of this Zion Map click here.

Zion National Park Basics

Region: Intermountain / Rocky Mountains

Park Size: 146,597 acres (229.06 sq miles) (593.26 sq km)

Location: Washington, Kane, and Iron counties

Closest Cities: Springdale and Orderville, Utah

Busy Season: May to September

Visitation: 3,437,286 (in 2019)

How much does Zion National Park Cost?

Zion National Park costs the following:

  • 7-day Passenger Vehicle Pass – $35
  • 7-day Motorcycle Pass – $30
  • 7-day Individual Pass – $20

An annual Zion National Park Pass costs $70 but it is not recommended you buy this pass. For an extra $10 you can get an American the Beautiful Pass. This $80 pass offers free admission to all 116 fee-charging National Park Units.

When is Zion National Park Open?

Zion National Park is open year-round.

Are dogs allowed in Zion National Park?

Yes, pets are welcome in Zion but are limited to developed areas such as roads, parking areas, picnic areas, campgrounds, and Pa’rus Trail. Pets are not allowed on any other trails in the park. Please review the Zion Pet Policy before bringing your dog to Zion.

Where are Zion National Park’s visitor centers?

Zion Canyon Visitor Center – Open Year Around

Zion Human History Museum – Open Year Around

Kolob Canyon Visitor Center – Open Year Around

Land Acknowledgment

The National Park known as Zion National Park sits on Southern Paiute and Pueblos land.

Thank you to the Native Land Digital for making the Indigenous territories accessible to all. They have mapped the known territories to the best of the current knowledge and is a work in progress. If you have additional information on the boundaries of the Indigenous nation, please let them know.

Native Land Digital is a registered Canadian not-for-profit organization with the goal to creates spaces where non-Indigenous people can be invited and challenged to learn more about the lands they inhabit, the history of those lands, and how to actively be part of a better future going forward together.

When was Zion National Park Created?

Zion National Park was created on July 31, 1909 as Mukuntuweap National Monument by President Howard Taft. In 1918, Horace Albright, then acting director of National Park Service, proposed expanding and renaming the monument to Zion National Monument. In 1919, the park was elevated to National Park status as Zion National Park.

The Kolob section of Zion National Park was proclaimed a Zion National Monument in 1937 (the second Zion National Monument to exist). In 1956, it was incorporated into the existing Zion National Park.

Fun Facts about Zion National Park

  • The highest point in Zion National Park is the summit of Horse Ranch Mountain which is 8,726-foot (2,660 m) above sea level.
  • The lowest point in Zion National Park is Coal Pits Wash which is 3,666-foot (1,117 m) above sea level.
  • At the time of completion, the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway was the longest non-urban road tunnel in the United States.
  • Zion National Park protects 527 archeological sites.
  • Zion by the numbers
    • 36.6 miles of paved roads
    • 2.4 miles of unpaved roads
    • 89.4 miles of hiking trails

When to Visit Zion National Park

Zion National Park Visitation

Zion is busiest from May to September.

Zion National Park Weather

Zion National Park is located at the intersection of the Colorado Plateau, the Great Basin, and the Mojave Desert. As such the park is a desert National Park. Its summers are hot and its winters are relatively mild. Snow can be expected at higher elevations.

During the summer, the park regularly sees temperatures exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Hiking during the summer should be done in the mornings or late afternoons and all hikers should carry lots of water.

How to Get to Zion National Park

Getting to Zion depends on where you live and how much time you have for your visit. If you live within 6-8 hours of Zion National Park, you are better off driving to the park. Outside of the 6-8 hour radius, flying may be your better option time-wise.

Unless you are taking a day tour from Las Vegas, there is no public transportation to Zion National Park.

I recommend weighting the time you have versus the costs before deciding to fly vs. driving.

Flying to Zion National Park

There are really two main options if you are looking to fly to Zion National Park.

Option 1 – McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, Nevada is about two and three-quarters of an hour away from Zion National Park. Las Vegas generally has a good number of flight options and is a hub for Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Spirit Airlines. The US legacy carries offer direct flights to Vegas from most of their major hubs.

Option 2 – Salt Lake City International Airport (SLT) in Salt Lake City, Utah is about four and a half hours from Zion National Park. Salt Lake City is a hub for Delta’s west coast operations and most of the other US airlines offer flights to Salt Lake City.

If you are planning a road trip to visit other Southwest or Southern Califorinia National Parks, you may want to consider the cities of Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Denver.

What kind of rental car do you need in Zion National Park?

For Zion National Park, any rental car you want will work. Unless there has been major flooding in the Kolob Canyon region, all the park roads are acessible for 2wd vehicles.

I book most of my rental cars through RentalCars.com. They have a great selection of rental cars from most major agencies and the best prices – check prices here.

How to use Zion National Park’s Shuttle

Zion is one of the most popular National Park. The VAST majority of visitor to Zion come to explore the 8 mile Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Due to the massive crowding along this road

From March to October, access to Zion Scenic Canyon Drive is to the Zion Shuttle. This free shuttle helps reduce traffic jams and congestion in the park. Learn more about the Zion Shuttle.

The park shuttles depart from the park visitor center in Springdale, Utah. This lot will fill early in the morning and you may need to find parking within the town of Springdale. The city offers a free shuttle from town to the visitor center. Be prepared to pay to park in Zion.

National Park Obsessed’s Detailed Guides to Zion National Park

Zion National Park Lodging

Zion National Park Activity Guides

Zion National Park Activity Guides

Road Trips that Include Zion National Park

Zion Wildlife Viewing Guides

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