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Zion National Park

Updated on March 20, 2012

Experience the Beauty of Zion National Park Through Hiking, Lodging and Sightseeing

Zion National Park sits right at the top of my most favorite National Parks. The unbelievable canyon that has been carved by the flowing Virgin River is one of the most tranquil, serene, and visited places in the United States National Park System. Red sandstone is contrasted against lush green trees and hanging wildflowers in the summer, brilliant fall foliage in autumn, and bright spring blooms just after the snow melts in April-June.

Often named as one of the best hikes in the world, the Zion Narrows taper down to just a distance of nearly 20 feet wide at some points, while the canyon still shoots 2000 feet into the air.

The park also contains some incredible places to stay just outside the park in Springdale. This small town is just a mile or two from the park entrance, and has some great restaurants and amazing scenery all around, so you'll have some sightseeing even while in your hotel.

Zion National Park Paul Kehrer under CC 2.0.

- The park has endangered peregrine falcons nesting in the park.

- Zion was set up as a National Monument in 1909.

- It was designated a National Park in 1919.

- The Kolob Canyons contain the world's largest natural arch, Kolob Arch.

- Zion Canyon is 15 miles long, as much as 1/2 mile wide, and as little as 20-30 feet wide.

- Humans inhabited Zion as far back as 8000 years ago.

- European settlers first came to the park in 1776.

- Mormon farmers were the first Europeans to inhabit the park in 1847.

- The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel was constructed by 1930, making the park much more accessible and visited.

- 90 million years ago, the park was underwater and has shifted over time to where it currently is located through plate tectonics.

- Zion is part of the massive Grand Staircase of the southwest.

- The east entrance of Zion is only 72 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park.

The North Fork of the Virgin River in Zion

Zion lies at the merging of three dry desert zones of southern Utah, which means its hot in the summer, and very cold in the winter. Most people agree, that the most scenic times of year in the park are spring and fall. The spring foliage offers vibrant yellows and greens against the striking earth tones of the valley walls, and cool, comfortable temperatures for hiking. The Virgin River is also heavier during this time of year.

The fall months at Zion are also cool, but dry, and the autumn foliage hits peak. Fall foliage hits early in late September here, and you'll also miss those crowds. Past October, and you can expect a possible snowstorm in Zion. The contrasting colors of the old trees of Zion against the flowing Virgin River and the dark reds and browns of the canyon will stick in your brain forever. The best time of year to visit the Narrows area of Zion is also in early fall/late summer, when the Virgin River has finally died down and is able to be hiked. You can read more about the best time of year to visit Zion on this thread on Trip Advisor.

Scenic Driving in Utah - A guide to the memorable roads of Utah

Are you leaving Utah high and dry? This amazing state has a huge concentration of National Parks in a small area, and one of the most unique cities in America, Salt Lake City. Find the best roads around Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and throughout the entire state with this awesome road guide.

Scenic Driving Utah, 2nd (Scenic Driving Series)
Scenic Driving Utah, 2nd (Scenic Driving Series)

Inside you'll find:

* Itineraries ranging from 5 miles to more than 150 miles in length

* Route maps for each drive

* In-depth descriptions of five national parks, six national monuments, and two national recreation areas

* Where to find Utah treasures, such as ancient pictographs and Indian ruins, ghost towns, and stunning sandstone spires

* Historical information and suggested side trips

* Tips on camping, travel services, and best driving seasons

 

Get on the Bus!

To see the sites along much of the Virgin River and inside Zion, you need to take a bus from Springdale, which is free and operates daily. Private vehicles are not permitted from April-October.

Zion on Google Maps - Zoom in or out to see more/less detail!

A markerZion National Park in Southern Utah -
zion national park
get directions

Recommended Books on Zion - Learn more about this incredible park with these guides

Southern Utah and the Zion-Bryce region are unlike other regions in the United States in the fact that there are so many National Parks and sites within a small area, it's a good idea to do some research and to have an-hand guide with you to find the best that each area has to offer. These books will give you a greater understanding of the beauty of Zion, from breathtaking photography to once-in-a-lifetime hikes that you'll remember forever.

Zion Canyon as seen from Angel's Landing

Zion Canyon as seen from Angel's Landing
Zion Canyon as seen from Angel's Landing

Videos Featuring Mini Tours of Zion National Park - Take a tour from your computer!

It's the next best thing to being there, so you'll have to settle for these videos until you can get there again! Hand picked for their great content and imagery, take a virtual tour before you plan your trip to see if this is something you'd like to see in person.

A Guide to Bryce and Zion by Frommer's - A trusted guide to the beautiful parks of southwest Utah

These two parks are often lumped together by book publishers for their proximity to one another, and it only makes sense. A trip to one is perfectly complimented by the other. Under time constraints, you can easily see both parks in just a few days. This guide will tell you some of the best places to see, the best hiking, from easy to those that want to get a full workout, places to avoid, times of year to avoid, it will give you some illustrations, and best of all, this guide is perfect to take with you and just the right size for travel.

Frommer's Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks (Park Guides)
Frommer's Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks (Park Guides)

*The best strategies for seeing Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks--and the lowdown on equally stunning (and less crowded) natural wonders nearby

*Great places to stay: cozy park lodges, family-friendly gateway motels, and the best campgrounds

*The best hikes, from meandering garden paths to thrilling canyon trails--plus cross-country ski treks, mountain bike and horseback tours, and more

*Where to eat and stock up on supplies, both in the parks and in nearby towns

*Detailed, accurate regional, park, and trail maps

 

Hiking the Narrows - A video on wading and hiking in the beautiful Zion Virgin River

The Virgin River runs throughout much of Zion National Park, and has carved the delicate Narrows gorge section, which can only be accessed by hiking. And when I say hiking, it can be more considered wading 60% of the time, with some swimming, too. See the video...

Zion Narrows

The Narrows section is one of America's greatest hikes. Is it THE greatest? Find information on this extraordinary hike through Zion here.

Zion Narrows Photos

Photos of the beautiful Narrows, which shows off the gorge walls and uniqueness of it.

NPS.gov Narrows Page

Find out where to hike, when to hike, and more about the hanging gardens, skinny gorges, and spectacular grottos of the Narrows.

The Narrows on Wikipedia

All of the general technical stuff about the Narrows section, generated by the Wikipedia contributors.

The 3 Ways to Hike the Narrows

The three ways that you can visit the Narrows, which are bottom up, top down, and top down overnight, according utah.com.

Some words of caution from nps.gov about the narrows

Weather forecasts, flash flood potential ratings, and stream reports are available at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, (435) 772-0170. Permits are not issued when the flow is greater than 120 cubic feet per second. Flash floods do occur! Be prepared and stop by the visitors center before any hike.

Equipment You'll Need for Hiking The Narrows - Zion's famed Narrows section: hike it!

You'll need equipment like dry bags, neoprene socks, emergency overnight gear, water, and water shoes to make your trek through the Narrows. It's not an easy hike, it can be slippery, and can have some sections of heavy currents. You'll need to swim for short sections, and you'll need a couple of hiking sticks to make it through. Sounds strenuous, right? The views you'll receive along the way and in the Narrows will make it totally worth it. Plus, think of the story you'll have for the rest of your life!

Seirus Innovation 6901 Windproof Winter Cold Weather NeoSock with 50% More Stretch, Black, Small
Seirus Innovation 6901 Windproof Winter Cold Weather NeoSock with 50% More Stretch, Black, Small

Keeps your feet dry and comfortable. You HAVE TO have these for hiking the Narrows.

 
Hammers HP5 Anti-Shock Hiking Pole with Compass & Thermometer
Hammers HP5 Anti-Shock Hiking Pole with Compass & Thermometer

You'll need two of these for your Narrows hike!

 
Wild Planet Explorer Ops Water Pack
Wild Planet Explorer Ops Water Pack

No, you can't drink the water in the Virgin River, so you'll need to bring your own reliable water pack.

 
Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30, Ultra Sweat-Proof, 8-Ounces. (Pack of 2)
Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30, Ultra Sweat-Proof, 8-Ounces. (Pack of 2)

Don't forget this! A sunburn is the last thing you'll need while hiking this strenuous section of Zion.

 


Browse other Zion Mousepads

If given the opportunity, would you hike the Narrows section of Zion?

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How's the weather?

Springdale lies just outside the park's boundaries on Highway 9 in Southern Utah. This page gives you a good idea of the weather and what to experience throughout the seasons in Zion.

Zion has great accomodations around the park, and just one in the park. All of these hotels have decent reviews from customers. Most of these hotels are also an easy bus ride into the closeby park. The lodging in Springdale, UT, in particular, is very close to the park entrance, and has some spectacular views even outside the park.

Cliffrose Lodge

I've stayed at Cliffrose Lodge and was impressed with the botanical gardens and serene canyon atmosphere! The backyard is a huge oasis of manicured lawn, trees, and gardens, along with the beautiful pool area. It's also very conveniently located to Zion, just a few minutes down the road.

Pioneer Lodge

The Pioneer Lodge has a great restaurant on location, which has great reviews, along with the hotels. Guests love the hotel for its extraordinary views of Zion, the convenience and proximity to the park, and the clean, comfortable rooms.

Bumbleberry Inn

The great rooms at Bumblerry Inn are quiet, serene, and close to the park. Located in Springdale, this area has much to do after your long days of hiking and sightseeing in the Canyon.

Zion National Park Lodge

The only accomodations within the park. Remember, it's location, location, location! While this lodge may not be all that fancy, you'll have all day and night to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Zion.

Best Western East Zion Thunderbird Lodge, Orderville,UT

Just around 7 miles from the park entrance in Orderville on Highway 89, you can find the conveniently located Best Western Thunderbird.

Quality Inn At Zion Park

Located just 1/2 mile from the park entrance, this clean and dependable hotel also affords the dramatic scenery leading into Zion all around you.

Flanigans Inn

A year round eco resort with a classic park lodge atmosphere, the on site Spotted Dog Cafe is a great place to dine and unwind (there was a really interesting menu when I visited!).

Days Inn Hurricane/Zion National Park Area, Hurricane,UT

The Days Inn in Hurricane offers a budget friendly alternative, around 20 miles from the park, which lies to the east.

Majestic View Lodge

Another prime location in Springdale, right outside the park, with a steakhouse and gift shop right on site!

More Zion National Park Hotels

Find more lodging and accomodations in the Zion area.

More Lenses in the Grand Circle: - Visit America's Southwest!

Bryce Canyon National ParkBryce Canyon is located in the southwestern portion of Utah, and is home to the famous red and white hoodoos spire formations, with remarkable hiking trails and scenic opportunities.

Capitol Reef National ParkA 70 mile wrinkle in the earth's crust resulted in the massive Capitol Reef area and National Park. Giant sandstone domes line the tops of this beautiful Utah plateau.

Canyonlands National ParkWind and water carved stone resulted in the area near Arches known as Canyonlands. The area boasts impressive, wide canyons, unique desert wildlife, and unmatched hiking.

Zion National ParkThe majestic Zion region has been eroded over time by the Virgin River, which slims down to the challenging hiking area of the Narrows.

Mesa Verde National ParkRemnants of a long lost culture can be found in the Colorado ruins of Mesa Verde National Park. Visit to gaze upon the incredible Puebloan Cliff Palace and ancient petroglyphs.

Monument ValleyDeep in the four corners region of the southwest is the often filmed Monument Valley reservation area. Now under the rule of the Navajo tribe, the area is open for touring, hiking and photography.

Arches National ParkSee the most natural sandstone arches anywhere in the world in Arches National Park of Moab, Utah. Erosion has left thousands of these unique stone structures standing in the park.

Black Canyon of the GunnisonDeep, black canyons leave a lasting impression in Colorado's Black Canyon of the Gunnison, with an impressive 2700 foot drop over into the Gunnison River.

Great Basin National ParkGreat Basin National Park contains the beautiful underground Lehman's Cave, and the mammoth peak of Mount Wheeler. Hike the area from its 13,000 feet peak, to beneath the earth's surface.

The Grand CanyonThe Grand Canyon is one of the wonders of the world, with an unforgettable hiking, photography, and road trip experience.

Thanks for Visiting!

Have You Been to Zion? Tell Us About Your Trip! - Recommend a trail, what to bring, a local hotel, or route!

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    • Kiwisoutback profile image
      Author

      Kiwisoutback 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @Pat Goltz: It's a great place. The Narrows and the Virgin River valley are really something to see.

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      I went to Zion twice. The first time was as a teenager, and I didn't have a camera with me. I remember the chipmunks in the tunnel. The second time, I had a camera, but it was rainy and foggy and not at all pleasant, so to get the really colorful and spectacular views, I will need to go back. Your lens will help me plan my trip.

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 5 years ago

      This is on my list. I can't believe I haven't visited the Utah parks yet!

    • Tracie-Fisher profile image

      Tracie-Fisher 5 years ago

      I so loved Zion. Thanks for the quick trip down memory lane. The images you selected were beautiful!

    • Jillynn profile image

      Jillynn 5 years ago

      I grew up near Zion and have many wonderful memories of it. There is an amazing hike in the back-country called the subway that is my favorite of all! I also highly recommend dining at the Bit and Spur. Thanks for a great lens!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      We like to visit Zion during the winter season for two weeks at a time. The lodge in the park changes almost half as much and the park is really quiet.

    • LDWorld profile image

      LDWorld 5 years ago

      Wow, I definitely going to visit next time I'm going that direction, thank you for great info!

    • JenaleeMortensen profile image

      JenaleeMortensen 6 years ago

      I got to visit Zion's when I was a teenager. I want to go back again. Thanks for this beautiful lens.

    • profile image

      ShamanicShift 6 years ago

      Awesome lens about a wondrous park -- blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I was lucky enough to work for 8 days in Zion, absolutely beautiful place! Wonderful lens!

    • DailyRogue profile image

      DailyRogue 7 years ago

      Great lens. I love the pics! I've never been to Zion, but you have inspired me to make that trip. Maybe this summer. Thanks.

    • AlishaV profile image

      Alisha Vargas 7 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      I visited Zion last year, and it's now one of my favorite National Parks. It was so beautiful! And I think it would be amazing to hike The Narrows. Lensrolled this to my National Parks #51-58 lens.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Looks like one amazing place to visit. 5***** for another great lens.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      Lots of great information for anyone planning a trip to Zion National Park. So much to see!

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Excellent lens. I was there last year: beautiful

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 8 years ago from Royalton

      Thank you for joining us on A Walk in the Woods and don't forget to add your lens to the appropriate plexo.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      wonderful lens about a really wonderful place. 5* and added to ny Natural Wonder lens.

    • profile image

      enslavedbyfaeries 8 years ago

      Absolutely gorgeous! I am lucky enough to live only a few hours from Zion National Park. You've done a superb job of capturing some of it's beauty on this lens. Rolling to my Best Friends Animal Sanctuary lens. :)

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 8 years ago

      Excellent lens. Squid Angel Blessings to you for another well researched informative lens.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Fantastic lens, chockful of info about one of my favorite National Parks as well. In fact, we go up there (from here in Flagstaff) two or three times a year, usually right around Thanksgiving and again around Easter, which is what we'll be doing the week AFTER Easter this year. (A little less crowded the following weekend.) With all the hiking we've done up there, we've yet to do the Narrows, other than walking up it a couple of miles. It's on the list! Anyhow, great job on this lens and, as usual, lensrolling it to mine about hiking the Grand Canyon.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 8 years ago

      Doesn't look like you've left out anything! Great lens 5*s

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 8 years ago

      Wonderful lens. I was in Zion National park once, but didn't have nearly enough time to see everything, I would love to go back!

    • profile image

      jura 8 years ago

      Great viues it must to be great place