Zion National ParkUtah 

Utah’s First National Park

Zion National Park

An amazing place to hike.

Zion is a 147,000 acre park built around Zion Canyon and the Virgin River in southwestern Utah.  Popular activities include hiking, bird watching, rock climbing, canyoneering and camping.

History

President William Howard Taft designated the area Mukuntuweap National Monument in 1909.  In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson expanded the protected area and renamed it Zion National Monument.  In 1919, Congress passed the bill to establish Zion National Park and it was dedicated in 1920.  The Kolob Canyon section of the park was added in 1956 after being designated a national monument in 1937.

Zion Park Shuttle

Due to the popularity of the park, Zion now restricts access by private vehicles from reaching Zion Canyon from March through November. Instead, a free shuttle system provides rides on the six mile scenic drive.

Distance from Nearby Major Cities:

Salt Lake City, UT: 300 miles (4.5 hours)
Las Vegas, NV: 160 miles (2.5 hours)

Busiest Months (Percentage of Annual Visits)

Don’t Miss:

  • Hiking
  • Canyoneering
  • Rim Overlooks
  • Wildlife

Other Activities

Hiking and Backpacking

Zion has almost 125,000 acres of wilderness, 90+ miles of trails, 37 designated backpacking campsites and a few at-large backpacking areas.

Angels Landing: This is one of the most popular day hikes in the park. The five mile round trip starts from Grotto Trailhead on the West Rim Trail which intersects with Angels Landing. Grotto Trailhead is the sixth stop on the shuttle. The hike climbs the canyon and then proceeds on a series of switchbacks to the ridge above the canyon and Scout’s Lookout. The final section of the hike climbs the narrow spine of the mountain (with dropoffs on both sides!) as it ascends another 500 feet to Angel’s Landing and an unrivaled 360 degree view. This trail is not for the out of shape (quite strenuous), children, or for climbing when rainy/wet/snow.

The Narrows: A world famous hike in the narrows of the North Fork of the Virgin River. A permit is required to either day hike or overnight backpack the 16 miles from the top down, which includes several miles of walking in the river. A full or half day hike from the bottom does not require a permit and is a popular option for those who cannot secure a permit.

Trans-Zion Trek: A 48 mile backpacking adventure across the park which starts in Kolob Canyon and travels southeast to the East Entrance.

Rock Climbing:

Fishing Zion

Fishing is not a big draw to Zion. The Virgin River, as well as its North and East forks, does have a few different fish populations, including rainbow trout, if you are looking to wet a line. For nearby trout fishing opportunities, try Navajo Lake and Duck Creek in Dixie National Forest (about an hour northeast of the park) and Kolob Reservoir, which can be reached by taking Kolob Terrace Road about fifteen minutes north of the park.

Recent Bird Sightings

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Camping and Lodging in the Park

Xanterra operates the Zion Lodge, a 1924 facility created for Utah Parks Company, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad designed to increase passenger rail traffic to the national parks of Utah. There are hotel room snad suites in the main lodge building and 40 cabins.

Zion National Park has three campgrounds. South and Watchman Campgrounds are in Zion Canyon near the South Entrance to the park. The Lava Point Campground is in Kolob Canyons (about an hour drive) and is open May through September depending on weather. Lava Point has six primitive campsites available first come, first served. There are pit toilets but no water at Lava Point. Camping is a popular activity in the park and campgrounds are often full every night from mid-March through November. Watchman Campground allows recommendations and there are several nearby private campgrounds for those that are unable to find a spot. As you are planning your trip, remember that the park is in a desert, there are few trees to provde relief from the sun and it is hot in the summer. Also, note that the Western tent caterpillar can be a problem in the park for campers in April and/or May.

Campground Reservations:

Watchman Campground
179 Sites

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Nearby Hotels and Other Lodging Options:

Springdale, La Verkin and Hurricane on the west side of the park all offer hotel and vacation home rental options.

Vacation Packages:

Roundtrip Flights to Las Vegas:

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