You’ll find Zion National Park tucked away in southern Utah, just a few hours away from the bright lights of Las Vegas—but Zion feels more like a world away. The park’s vistas are so beautiful that when paintings of them first started making their way back east, some believed the painters had made the place up. It’s time to hit the road to figure out what makes Zion so special and see it for yourself.
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Best time of year to visit
There isn’t a bad time to visit Zion, but your best bet is probably fall. Summer is the busiest season at Zion—and the hottest. With high temperatures that can sometimes reach more than 100 degrees, you may need to find some shade in the middle of the day and keep your outdoor activities to the morning and evening. Spring gives your milder temperatures, but snow melt causes higher water levels, potentially closing some trails (including the Narrows). During fall, the weather is typically mild with low water in the canyon, keeping more hikes open for you.
Regions to explore
When you think of Zion, the main canyon is probably what you have in mind. Carved out by the Virgin River, which snakes through the canyon, it’s home to the most legendary Zion hikes, including Angel’s Landing, the Narrows, and Observation Point. There isn’t a time of day when the canyon doesn’t look stunning, but it’s especially beautiful in the morning and evening, as the shadows creep across the landscape.
Looking to escape the crowds? Take a 45-minute drive from the main Zion visitor center to the Kolob Canyons region of the park. Think of Kolob Canyons as the backyard of Zion National Park. It’s quieter and offers different views of the park. Check out the Taylor Creek Trail. It follows the creek, crossing over the creek dozens of times in about two and a half miles.
Zion National Park visitor centers
Zion National Park is open 24/7, but if you want to talk to park rangers to get info, stop in at anyof the visitor centers below during opening hours. The Zion National Park Visitor Center is the primary visitor center, found at the main entrance of the park.
Must-sees of Zion
There is no shortage of things to do when you visit Zion. With a a new stunning view around every corner, here are some you really do not want to miss. You can find Checkerboard Mesa by driving Route 9 east from the entrance of the park. Hike to the other points from stops along the park shuttle.
Zion National Park shuttle
Parking in and near Zion National Park is extremely limited. Instead, use the park’s shuttles that run from March through November. There are two shuttles operated by the national park: One runs from nearby Springdale and drops you off in the park, and the other runs from the visitor center, making nine stops along the park’s scenic drive. The shuttle inside the park will drop you off within a short walk of the most popular hikes in the park, and a shuttle arrives at each stop every 10 minutes.
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