Guide to Zion National Park

HikeSnobs rate this: 3.5thumb


Visited: May 27, 2016 – May 30, 2016

Description: Located in Southwest Utah, Zion National Park is home to the most scenic canyons in the country.

Fees: Entrance $30 per vehicle

Recommended Duration: 2-3 days

Hours: Open 24 hours a day, everyday of the year. Hours of operation here.

Wildlife: Home to 78 species of mammals, 291 species of birds, 44 species of reptiles & amphibians, & 8 species of fish. Read more here.

Pets: Leashed pets may be walked on the Pa’rus Trail. However, pets are not permitted on any other trails, on shuttles, in public buildings, or in the wilderness.

Parking: Visitor Center (37.2001022,-112.9891577)
Parking areas in Zion are usually full from 10a-3p so get there early! Otherwise, you can park in Springdale and ride the free shuttle to the park. Street parking is available in many locations in Springdale.

Best time to go: Anytime but definitely better if you avoid summers and major holiday weekends because this place gets CROWDED.

Bring: Camera, water, food, hiking shoes, camping gear

Zion National Park is the oldest and most popular park in Utah. With the most scenic canyons, steep red cliffs and flowing rivers, Zion is one of the most beautiful National Parks in the United States. Visitors of all ages come far and wide to hike the trails, camp, climb and to make amazing memories.

The Hikesnobs were excited to have the opportunity to explore Zion, it’s been on both of our bucket lists for the longest time. With Linda’s carefully planned itinerary, hiking shoes and camelbacks, we were ready for anything and everything!  We put together this general guide complete with campsite and shuttle information to make things easier for you.  Check out some of the hikes we went on and see what kind of trouble we got into this time around.  😉

Happy Hiking!!

Campsites: Zion National Park has three main campgrounds. Unfortunately we were unable to snag any camp spots… Campsites fill up fast and there will be a line of cars.

So if you’re going on a holiday or weekend, have a plan B! We just slept in the bed of our truck which actually worked out better than expected.

  • The Lava Point Campground:  1 hour drive from Zion on Kolob Terrace Road. 6 primitive first-come, first-serve campsites. No camping fee.
  • South Campground: 1/2 mile from the South entrance. 117 first-come, first-serve. Campsites usually fill up between 9AM – noon (with the exception of Holidays). Campsite is $20/night.
  • Watchman Campground: 1/4 mile from the south entrance. 176 sites available by reservation from March to October. (May be made 6 months prior to arrival date).

UPDATE*** Watchman Campground will be closed for renovation starting October 1, 2016 and reopen Spring 2017.

Lodging: If you feel like being a little more fancy, you can make reservations for Zion Lodge. Rooms, suites and cabins are available but plan months ahead to make a reservation! It fills up QUICK.

Showers: Just take a dip in the river! That’s all you need 😛 But if you desire a more comfortable way of cleaning yourself, pay showers are available in Springdale and east of the park. The availability of these services varies throughout the year.

Emergencies: For 24 hour emergency response, call 911 or 435 772 3322. The Zion Canyon Medical Clinic is located in Springdale near the south entrance to the park. For hours, please call 435 772 3226. Other medical clinics are located in Hurricane. The nearest hospitals are in St. George, Cedar City, and Kanab.

Transportation: Due to Zion’s increasing popularity, in 1997 the national park established a shuttle system to eliminate traffic and parking issues while preserving the vegetation and wild life of the park.

Shuttle Schedule 2016 


Pets are not permitted on shuttles 😦

Be warned: There will be a line later in the day 😱 but it does go by pretty quickly.

Fuel: There are no gas stations in Zion but there are two service stations 1 mile from Zion’s south entrance.

Food: We packed all of our food this trip but there are many places to get food in the Zion area.

Zion Lodge: Red Rock Grill & Castle Dome Cafe (we saw quite a few people eating some delicious-looking soft serve ice cream :P); serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner reservations are required.

If you didn’t bring enough food or other necessities, you can find grocery and convenience stores in Springdale, La Verkin, Hurricane, Kanab, St. George, and Cedar City.

Points of Interest: While we wish we had more time to explore every single hike, here are the places that we were able to explore this time around. We will definitely be back again.


One of the most famous and popular hikes in Zion. The most notable sections of the hikes are the anchored support chains at the last half mile of the hike. This strenuous 5.4 mile out and back hike is absolutely breathtaking and definitely HikeSnobs approved.

  • Emerald Pools  1.5thumb

A quick and relative easy hike to the lower, middle and upper emeralds pools. Most commonly described as an oasis in the middle of the dessert.

  • Hidden Canyon   2.5thumb

An exciting hike with chains railings on the east rim of Zion canyon. If Angel’s Landing is a bit too crowded check out this 4.5 mile trek to feel the tingle of the dramatic cliff-sides.

A classic hike to the highest point in Zion. This 8 miles out and back trail provides stunning views the entire way up. At the top you’ll be able to spot Angel’s landing from a distance.

  • Riverside Walk   

A 1 mile, one way walk to the start of the Narrows on a well-maintained trail with a few minor elevation changes.


A very popular hike in the Virgin River through gorgeous slot canyons. Be prepared, the water is freezing if you are not in the proper gear.

Other hikes we did not attempt:

  • Pa’rus Trail: (3.5 miles RT, 2 hours) Paved trail follows the Virgin Ricer from the South Campground to Canyon Junction. Wheelchairs may need assistance. Pet-friendly.
  • Archeology Trail: (.4 hours RT, .5 hours) Short, but steep. Starts across from the entrance to the visitor center parking lot. Climbs to the outlines of several prehistoric buildings. Trailside exhibits.
  • The Grotto Trail: (1 mile RT, .5 hours) The trail connects the Zion Lodge to the Grotto. Can be combined with the Lower Emerald Pool and Kayenta and Upper Emerald Pool Trails.
  • Watchman Trail: (2.2 miles RT, 2 hours) Moderate drop-offs. Ends at viewpoint of the Towers of the Virgin, lower Zion Canon, and Springdale.
  • Sand Beach Trail: (7.6 RT, 2 hours) Commercial horse trail from March to October. Hike atop a massive landslide under The Sentinel. Deep sand and little shade.
  • Kayenta Trail: (2 miles RT, 2 hours) Moderate drop-offs. An unpaved climb to the Emerald Pools. Connects The Grotto to the Emerald Pools Trails.
  • Canyon Overlook Trail: (1 mile RT, 1 hour) Long drop-offs, mostly fenced. Rocky and uneven trail ends at viewpoint of Pine Creek Canyon and lower Zion Canyon. Parking lot is right-turn only.
  • Taylor Creek Trail: (5 miles RT, 4 hours) Limited to 12 people per group. Follows the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek past two homestead cabins to Double Arch Alcove.
  • Timber Creek Overlook Trail: (1 mile RT, .5 hour) Follows a ridge to a small peak with views of Timber Creek, Kolob Terrace, and Pine Valley Mountains.
  • Kolob Arch via La Verkin Creek Trail: (14 miles RT, 8 hours) Limited to 12 people per group. Follows Timber and La Verkin Creeks. A side trail leads to Kolob Arch, one of the world’s largest freestanding arches.

The more you explore Zion National Park, you’ll see that it’s very organized. From the perfectly time shuttles to the well maintained trails, we never got lost! Not even once! Being HikeSnobs, we tend to end up in some sort of snafu… But hey, it gives for a great story! Too bad the only ones on this trip were a few blisters and bruises…

Nevertheless, after two awesome days and 35+ miles of hiking, we were able to complete everything we intended to do and still had time to just relax. It was such a great feeling to get away and submerge ourselves into nature. Zion is a truly beautiful place, we’ll be back to tackle more hikes next time!

@HikeSnobs Tips:

  • It will get extremely crowded O_O Not sure how much more we can express this…

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Leave us a message below!

5 thoughts on “Guide to Zion National Park

  1. Some great detail here for all the hikes. I’m a little sad that when i visited it was during a flood warning so we didn’t manage to hike out far at all. Against a clear sky though the red rocks stand out so much!


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