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Zion National Park

Updated on November 29, 2012

Experience the Beauty of Zion National Park

Zion National Park, in southwestern Utah, is truly one of the most magnificent of America's national parks. It attracts nearly 2.5 million visitors each year.

As you enter the vast 229-square-mile expanse that is Zion National Park, you'll be awed by the amount of things there are to do and see here, especially if you're more adventurous than the average traveler.

Public domain photo from NPS Staff

Sandstone Formations at Zion

Avid national park visitors know that when you visit Zion, you need to look up to see the spectacular scenery, unlike the Grand Canyon, where it's necessary to look down into the canyon to see the amazing colors and formations.

At Zion National Park, the beauty is above the ground. The sandstone formations that have stood here for millennia boast the incredible colors of nature, from reds and browns to muted tones of white and gray and, it seems, nearly everything in between.

Rain has carved the rocks into interesting shapes as have the bodies of water that flow through Zion. You'll find spires, domes, and other formations that resemble things we find in everyday life. But there's nothing "everyday" about this national park.

Public domain photo from National Park Service Staff

Visiting Zion

Most visitors make their first stop the Zion Canyon Visitors Center, an excellent place to gather information about the history of the park, learn how to get around Zion easily, or pick up fliers on the activities and programs going on throughout the park. This is also a good place to grab a map.

The Visitors Center boasts an excellent outdoor interpretive center that will interest visitors of all ages. Lectures usually happen at this location and guided walks generally begin at the Center.

After a trip to the Visitors Center, many guests head to the main canyon, the most-visited section of the park, where the sights are spectacular and the terrain is easy to navigate. From here, you can access the 8-mile scenic drive via shuttle in the busy months of April to October and by automobile during the other months.

Public domain photo from National Park Service Staff

Hiking at Zion National Park

There are so many wonderful things to see in Zion but much of the park is only accessible to those who are willing to do a bit of hiking. Trails range from pretty easy to downright dangerous.

The National Park Service stresses the fact that all hikes in Zion, whether short or long, require advance planning to ensure your safety.

Many avid hikers head straight for The Narrows, where weather and flash flooding can be quite unpredictable. This is one of the most challenging sections of the park and the 12.5 mile hike will have you walking through water much of the time. Floods can occur without any notice so checking with rangers before hiking The Narrows is a must.

The Emerald Pools Trails also attract a large number of visitors, ranging from easy to moderate. Much safer than some of the other trails in the park, they provide views of crystal clear waterfalls and sparkling ponds.

Overnight backpacking trips require a permit and there is a fee for this activity as well.

More Information on Hiking at Zion

Best Trails in Zion National Park

Lists and gives descriptions of trails of various difficulties and remoteness: easy trails, easy remote trails, and backpacking trails, as well as view points.

Recommended Hikes at Zion National Park

Extensive list of recommended hikes from "short and easy" to canyoneering routes. Includes detailed descriptions, maps, and photos.

Hiking in Zion

Offers a printable map of the hiking trails at Zion National Park. Includes trail descriptions. From the National Park Service.

Hiking the Narrows at Zion

Provides extensive details about this strenuous hike. Includes photos and a topo map.

Public domain photo from National Park Service Staff

Other Activities at Zion

Just like hiking, mountain climbing is popular here as well, but demands experience as well as the proper equipment in order to protect both the park and the climber.

Bicycling is allowed in certain parts of Zion National Park. Maps should be consulted in order to locate bike trails.

From spring through fall, horse aficionados can enjoy guided horseback riding tours that take visitors to some of the most breathtaking areas of Zion.

Public domain photo from National Park Service Staff

Where to Stay

The closest city to the park is Springdale, Utah. As a matter of fact, the park pretty much surrounds the city, located near the Main/South Entrance. There are numerous hotels, motels, B&Bs, and inns located in Springdale. Other towns within 25 miles of the park offer a host of lodging options as well.

A few campgrounds are located inside the park. Some are first come/first serve, but for Watchman Campground, advance reservations are suggested.

Public domain photo from National Park Service Staff

When to Visit Zion

Most choose to make their way to Zion National Park in the summer months, when the kids are out of school.

Spring, however, is an ideal time to visit as the wildflowers are at their peak and the temperatures are moderate. Fall at Zion National Park is also beautiful, with cooler and more pleasant weather.

Public domain photo from National Park Service Staff

Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks

Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, 2nd (Regional Hiking Series)
Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, 2nd (Regional Hiking Series)

This guide features fifty-nine of the best trails at these two national parks, from day hikes to backcountry treks. Includes trail descriptions, trail maps, route profiles, and difficulty ratings. Provides accurate directions to the trailheads.


All comments are greatly appreciated.

Thanks for stopping by!

Comments on Zion National Park

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      It's been years since I visited Zion Natl. Park. Your selection of photos brought back great memories of this beautiful spot.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      these pics ar amazing!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: it is

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a beautiful park this must be to see first hand. Lovely! :)

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 6 years ago

      @Gypzeerose: and pinned to my board "squidoo lenses worth blessing."

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 6 years ago

      Zion National Park is spooky it is so pretty. I visited it with my ex-husband as we traveled from New England to Alberta, on the cross country trip we took. The formations are like nothing else I have ever seen. Angel blessed lens, and pinned out to my Favorite Places board.

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      JoshK47 6 years ago

      Wow - this looks positively gorgeous! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 6 years ago

      Oooh, I'll have to suggest that my family visit this over fall break - your lens will help me convince everyone!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Looks like a great place to visit. Great lens!

    • profile image

      Terrie_Schultz 6 years ago

      I was there quite a few years ago, and I'd like to go back.

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      SteveKaye 6 years ago

      We just returned from two weeks in Zion.

    • waterlily78 profile image

      waterlily78 6 years ago

      Gorgeous photos!

    • Einar A profile image

      Einar A 6 years ago

      Beautiful photos and a good article on this magnificent place! I always get the urge to head out that way for a week or two this time of year, and as you mentioned, spring is indeed the time to visit, before the heat really sets in.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Sounds like a great place to visit! Love the pictures... :)