Towering rock formations, colorful slot canyons, and a maze of hiking trails make Zion Canyon the heart of activity in Zion National Park. The Virgin River courses through the green valley floor and painted sandstone cliffs, creating a desert oasis that draws hoards of visitors to the scenic park.
Zion Canyon is the top destination in Utah’s first national park. Most of the attractions are conveniently located along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, accessed by shuttle bus during the summer and by car in the winter.
If you’re using the shuttle, hop off at any of the nine stops situated along the route from the visitor center to the Temple of Sinawava. Popular trail options include the watery Narrows, the perilous cliffside trail to Angels Landing, and the Observation Point. Take a look at the Zion website for detailed information on all the trails (distance, elevation change, level of difficulty, and so forth).
Things to Know Before You Go
Zion Canyon can be extremely crowded. Be prepared to wait in long lines for shuttles and on hikes.
The Narrows are accessible only at certain water levels, and may require special gear. Consult with the visitor center before attempting this hike.
The shuttle buses and some trails are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get There
During the high season (April to October), private vehicles aren’t allowed into Zion Canyon. Park in the nearby town of Springdale and take a free shuttle to the park. Once inside the canyon, ride the shuttle from one attraction to the next.
When to Get There
In general, Zion Canyon teems with visitors from April to October. If possible, avoid going on weekends or holidays, and get up early to catch the first shuttle into the park. Or, visit in winter.
How to Beat the Crowds at Zion National Park
The easiest way to beat the crowds is to visit during the off-season. Otherwise, consider staying in Zion Lodge, so you can start exploring early before the shuttle buses arrive. You might also check out some of the lesser-known parts of the park—Kolob Canyons, for example, boasts some of the same geological wonders with way fewer people.