It’s all about sightseeing and outdoor activities in Zion National Park. There are several highlights you must see, regardless of whether you only have a few hours to travel through the park or several days to explore it in greater depth.
The locations along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway are the main draws in Zion. For those looking for activities, there are hiking paths for all skill levels, equestrian opportunities, and, for the more daring, canyoneering and rock climbing. Be sure to visit the Human History Museum if you want to learn more about the people who have lived in this area over the years.
Best Places to Visit in Zion National Park
A free shuttle bus service runs from the middle of March to the end of November, both inside Zion National Park and from the town of Springdale to the park. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to vehicular traffic during these months; however, shuttle buses within Zion can take you to stations along this route. Check out our list of the top things to do and see before entering Zion National Park.
1. Investigate the Attractions Along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
Zion Canyon is the area of Zion National Park that is the most dramatic. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, an in-and-out road that travels down the canyon bottom with enormous sheer cliffs on both sides, provides access to the canyon.
This route provides views of several of the park’s most well-known locations, including an upward vista of Angels Landing. The Narrows, one of the park’s most recognizable features, is where the road comes to a stop. Most of the park’s main sights are situated along the route.
2. Visit the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway
While the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is undoubtedly more picturesque, the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, which travels through the park from the South Entrance to the East, offers a strikingly different viewpoint as it winds high above the valley, providing dramatic views from one side of the valley to the other.
As it ascends the mountainside, the road clings to the cliff face. After a gradual ascent, the route enters a brief, 1.1-mile tunnel. RVs cannot fit through the tunnel because it is too narrow, so traffic is stopped in one direction.
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A pass must be obtained in advance before you and your RV are allowed to proceed, and RV drivers must pay a fee before they enter the park in order to pass through the tunnel.
3. Go for a Day Hike on the Trails
Outstanding hikes in Zion National Park range in length from a mile or less to multi-day excursions. In the park, Angels Landing and The Narrows are two of the best-known walks.
At stop number six on the shuttle, Angels Landing, a challenging hike leads to a breathtaking viewpoint with views of Zion Canyon. The track is not for everyone, especially not for those who are afraid of heights, because it follows a ridge with huge drop-offs.
4. Rock Weeping
Weeping Rock is a significant landmark along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. This dripping stone overhang provides a close-up view of the hanging gardens that cling to the otherwise vertical rock side.
Depending on the time of year, there may be drips, a stream, or a full waterfall emerging from the rock. You can see the valley from a new angle and truly appreciate the size of the canyon walls by standing at the base of Weeping Rock.
5. Waterfront Walk
You don’t have to walk the entire 2.2-mile roundtrip Riverside Walk pathway to appreciate this part of the park. The Temple of Sinawava, station #9 on the Zion shuttle bus, is the last stop along this paved trail that follows the Virgin River.
The trail traverses hanging gardens, hugging a rock wall occasionally, and spurs descend to the water’s edge. Large waterfalls may be gushing from the cliff face across the valley, on the other side of the river, especially in the spring. Birds and other wildlife can be seen here as well.
6. Emerald Pools, Lower
Lower Emerald Ponds, which resembles Weeping Rock in many ways, has a weeping wall and ponds at the base. A 6.8-mile roundtrip paved route leading to the location departs from Zion Lodge.
When the leaves are out and the water is running over the wall in the spring, this is a very pleasant walk. If you have the time and energy, you can trek past this point and reach the Middle and Upper Emerald Pools by going around the falls.
7. Checkerboard Mesa with Zion National Park’s Eastern Side
There is a parking lot and an informational plaque at Checkerboard Mesa, but there are several additional nearby mountainsides that beckon exploration.
Small pullouts on this side of the park can only fit a few cars at once, but if you can find a spot, it’s worth stopping so you can take in the unusual surroundings.
8. Museum of Human History
Visit the Human History Museum, the first stop on the shuttle bus, to discover more about Zion’s cultural past. The museum has expansive, easy-to-read exhibits as well as a sizable scale model of the park and its surroundings.
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Information about American Indian culture, early settlements, and park development can be found in the permanent collection. Additionally, there are a number of topic-specific temporary displays on display. Every half hour, a video is shown, and rangers are on hand to answer any queries.
9. Rides Along the Canyon
From March to October, horseback riding excursions take visitors on a picturesque hour-long ride through one of the park’s most stunning regions along the Virgin River. For cyclists with more experience, longer journeys are also offered.
This might serve as a pleasant diversion from or replacement for trekking and sightseeing. It’s a much-liked family activity as well. To guarantee a spot, it is advisable to reserve trips in advance. A concessionaire that has received approval from the National Park Service leads all tours.
10. Rock climbing and Canyoneering
Canyoneering is a well-liked pastime in Zion due to the slot canyons and distinctive topography of the area. Numerous outfitters in the neighboring town of Springdale provide instruction, equipment rentals, and general information about canyoneering in the region.
There are classes available for novices as well as experts. These outfitters are fantastic places to start even if you are not interested in lessons, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area.
Zion National Park, one of the best national parks in the country, is filled with breathtaking scenery and outdoor activities, particularly for hikers. Along any of the famous out-and-back hiking trails in the park, like the 5-mile-long Angels Landing, visitors may see the canyons’ sunset-colored hues.
Both the mile-long Lower Emerald Pool route and the half-mile Weeping Rock trail offer shady, flat terrain for family-friendly treks. Adventure seekers can, however, traverse The Narrows, the narrowest part of Zion Canyon, to wade into the Virgin River.