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Guide to Zion National Park

The frequently asked questions and answers that you need to know before planning a Zion National Park adventure.

zion national park

Is the park open year-round?

 Yes, Zion National Park is open all year. The most popular time to visit is from April to October.

Where is the park located?

 Zion National Park is in Springdale, Utah, on State Route 9.

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How do I get around in the park?

 Highway 9, which traverses the park from east to west, is open to private vehicles year-round. The park offers a free shuttle service for access to the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, located off of Highway 9, from April through October, when private vehicles are banned. Bicycles are permitted on this road from April to October, but bicyclist must yield to shuttle buses.

How big is the park?

 The park is 229 square miles.

What activities are available?

 Some of the popular activities for a Zion National Park vacation include:

    • Backpacking and hiking: The park contains ninety miles of trails winding through 124,400 acres of designated wilderness. Whether visitors are seeking a short walk, a day hike, or a multi-day trek to take advantages of the thirty-seven designated backpacking sites, Zion National Park offers a wide variety of backpacking and hiking experiences. Wilderness permits are required for overnight hikes.
    • Birding: Up to 291 species of birds call this park home. Some of the most well-known species include the peregrine falcon, the Mexican spotted owl, ad the California condor. The visitor center offers a bird checklist for the park.
    • Rock climbing: Zion National Park contains world-renowned, 2,000-foot sandstone cliffs that are a popular destination for experienced climbers. Early- and late-season climbing is recommended to avoid the high temperatures of the summertime. A permit is required only for overnight bivouacs, not for day climbs.
    • Other activities: Guided horseback tours are also available as part of the Zion National Park vacation package. Boating is permitted on the Virgin River when the water flow allows; permits are required. Bicycling is allowed on the Pa’rus Trail and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The free shuttle buses are equipped with bicycle racks.

zion national park

Are pets allowed?

Pets are permitted only in limited areas of Zion National Park. They are not allowed in any wilderness areas or on trails, except for the paved Pa’rus Trail, which is accessed from the visitor center or Canyon Junction.

Are the trails accessible?

The Pa’rus Trail and the Riverside Walk are wheelchair-accessible.

What accommodations are available?

The Zion Lodge, three miles north of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, offers rooms and cabins year-round. Camping is permitted in designated camping sites only, not in parking lots or pull-offs. Zion National Park has three campgrounds: the Watchman and South campgrounds are near the south entrance, and Lava Point is about one hour from Zion Canyon, on the Kolob Terrace Road. In addition, several private campgrounds can be found just outside the park.

Are there restaurants in the park?

The Red Rock Grill Dining Room at the Zion Lodge is open year-round, and the Castle Dome Café, also at the lodge, is open seasonally. Other dining options are available outside the park.

What are the most popular areas of the park?

    • Zion Canyon Scenic Drive: This seven-mile drive along the canyon floor showcases the park’s magnificent scenery. Guests can enjoy it from the free shuttle bus, while bicycling or hiking, or from their own car from November to March.
    • The Narrows: This twenty- to thirty-foot-wide river gorge surrounded by 1,000-foot walls is the narrowest point of Zion Canyon and a popular destination in the park. Visitors can include the Narrows as part of a day hike or can view it from an accessible, paved path, the Riverside Walk, which follows the Virgin River. Short hikes in this area do not require a permit, but longer, multiday hikes do. Check with the park before setting out. Hiking the Narrows requires walking in the river, which can be dangerous in winter and early spring when the water is cold and the flow high. Summer is the most popular time, but that is also when flash flooding can occur during storms. Always check the weather forecast before setting out on a hike.
    • Kolob Canyon: This section of the park, about forty miles north of Zion Canyon, is quieter than other parts of the park. With its soaring red sandstone cliffs, pristine streams carving their way through the canyon, and waterfalls providing a cooling mist, the Kolob Canyon provides visitors a place to relax and take in the wilderness. Numerous hiking trails lead through the canyons.

Which national park would you like to visit most? Is Zion National Park on your list? Tell us in the comments.

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