Distance from Las Vegas: 254 km Travel time: approx. 3 hours
Route: Interstate 15 North, at Harrisburg Junction US 9 (Exit 16) to Springdale. Admission: $35 per vehicle (motorcycle $20) valid for 7 days (incl. tickets and parking information).
The Zion National Park with its red sandstone rocks and picturesque canyons is one of the most beautiful national parks in the USA. Numerous trails make the park ideal for hiking.
Often the Zion National Park is only used as a passage between Bryce Canyon and Las Vegas. The route is beautiful and of course an experience, but if time permits, you should at least drive the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
This particularly scenic route is closed to private vehicles in the summer months (April to October) and can only be used by the Zion Shuttle. The buses depart from the Visitor Center in Springdale and run approximately every 10 minutes. The shuttle is free and you can get on and off as often as you like at the eight stops in the park. This is also ideal for hiking between stops. The round trip takes about 90 minutes.
Hiking in Zion National Park
From quiet walks to challenging climbing tours, there is something for every level. Here is an overview of the most popular hikes. Further information and maps are available free of charge at the entrance to the park or in the Visitor Center. The following applies to all hikes: sturdy shoes, sun protection and sufficient water!
The 1.6 km long, rocky loop starts on Highway 9 just before the tunnel (coming from Bryce Canyon). The trail offers some nice views and is relatively easy to walk in an hour. Steep slopes are mostly secured by fences.
Starting point is at Zion Lodge. First we go two kilometers to the Lower Pool, a water pool with overhanging rocks and a small waterfall. The paved footpath is easy to walk, even with children. Afterwards the trail becomes a bit more challenging and it goes steadily uphill to the Upper Pool. There too, water flows from a high rock into a deep green basin. This is bigger and has a small beach.
The medium-difficulty circular route (4.3 km) starts directly behind the Visitor Center. There are also plenty of parking spaces. Due to the temperatures it is best to start early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The path is sometimes very narrow and steep, hardly any shade. It takes about 2 – 2.5 hours to get there and back.
Riverside Walk – Zion Narrows
To get to the Zion Narrows, take the Zion Shuttle to the last stop (Temple of Sinawava) and walk along the Riverside Walk. The asphalt road ends after 2 km at the river. Experienced hikers can then wade through the water. The up to 600 meters high sandstone cliffs move up to a few meters together and behind every bend new fantastic views arise. Many hikers try to reach Orderville Canyon, a tributary about 2 hours upstream, where the Narrows are perhaps the most beautiful.
This trail is certainly one of the highlights in the Zion National Park. But the tour is really only for people with good fitness and no fear of heights. Especially the last 700 m are very exhausting. For the hike (8 km) one needs altogether approx. 5 hours.
From the starting point at The Grotto, the trail first goes flat along the Virgin River and then leads up in serpentines.
Lower part Angels Landing Trail
In the further course it goes sideways along the mountain to the back. From there 21 serpentines, the so-called Walter’s Wiggles, lead to Scout Lookout. The last 700 meters are very steep and not harmless. The track is secured with chains, but in some places it goes down several hundred meters steeply to the left and right.
Weather in Zion National Park
Spring and autumn are ideal times to visit the park, although the weather can change in spring. Wild flowers bloom from April to June. In summer it can get quite hot during the day, but at night it cools down pleasantly. Short afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon in July and August. In autumn the days are usually clear and mild, the nights cool. The autumn colours in the canyon are most beautiful at the end of October. The winters are rather mild with an average of 5°C, in the higher altitudes snow has to be expected.
Checkerboard Mesa (at the east entrance)
If you want to visit Zion National Park for two or more days, it is best to take a motel in Springdale (at the park entrance). From Springdale you can take the free shuttle bus to the park. The motels in Hurricane or St. George (approx. 40 km towards Las Vegas) are cheaper.
Hotel tip for Zion Park: Zion Canyon Lodge