An Introduction to Zion National Park

The wondrous Zion National Park is situated to the southwest of Utah and is near the Nevada and Arizona borders. It is at the end of Colorado Plateau. It is approximately a three-hour drive from Las Vegas and is among the major tourist attraction in the “Grand Circle Tour”: which is a list that has the parks that people visiting Utah and Arizona should tour. This list includes the Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

Activities to Do

The first and most common activity thing that people do is sightseeing. All the tourists are very inspired by the amazing beauty of the Zion Canyon. Its towering sandstone rocks have a deep orange color as the weeping walls have very delicate plant life growing on them. There are as well as canyon streams throughout the park. Any first timer is advised to begin on the Zion Shuttle which starts from Visitor Center. The shuttle driver has buses taking the tourists into the main canyon and provides an audio introduction tour of the park. It makes various predesigned stops at various scenic locations and trails. Make sure you always get out of the bus and enjoy the air and sights.

There are many hiking opportunities that the hikers can experience if they have the ability to do so. They vary from the short easy strolls, to the long and strenuous and difficult hikes that will take you to remote viewpoints. Even for the casual hikers, the easy hiking trails lead to some of the best scenic points. For the experienced hikers, there are longer, remote hikes that have backpacking routes which provide an alternative to the crowded areas.

With the huge and beautiful scenery everywhere, it is very important for you to take into account photography. This is very rewarding as it allows you to have a pastime activity and also makes you relive the moments. Also, for those who love canyoneering, the Zion National Park is the epicenter of this activity.

For more leisure things to do, there are horseback rides available in the park. They are just across the Zion Lodge. They also have fishing in the national park. As long as you have the required Utah fishing license, though it is not very popular as Virgin River and other streams do not have big game fish. One can also stroll to the various artisan shops that are available in Springdale.

Biking is also available in the Park. As bicycles are not allowed on the national park trails, one can do it at along the paved trails and on the roads.

National Park Charges

Any visitor who wants to step into Zion Canyon must pay for a “recreational use pass”, a standard payment. There are entrance booths that are located on the south entrance, the east entrance along Route 9, and also at the Kolob Canyon entrance. From 2011, the charges and passes are:

• $25 for any vehicle (as long as it isn’t commercial) It is valid for seven days and is inclusive of everyone in the car.
• $12 for any person who enter the park, either on foot, by bicycle or motorcycle. It is valid for seven days
• $50 Zion Park Annual Passes. This is valid for one year. Sensible for someone who wants to visit for more than a couple times a year with the family or more than a few weeks.
• $80 Interagency Annual Parks Pass. This allows anyone who wants to visit any Federal recreation sites that have a standard charge for an year. This is very helpful if you would like to visit plenty of national parks for one year.
• $10 Senior Parks Pass. This is restricted for those who are 62 years and above as it allows them to have a lifetime access to any of the recreational sites that have an entrance fee.

You will require filling in the fee information on the NPS Fees and Reservations website page. There are no charges for riding in the Zion Shuttle as well as a single day’s hike on the Zion trails. However, backcountry permits are needed for an overnight trip, a top-down hike via the Zion Narrows, a hike via the Subway or the Left Fork of North Creek, or any canyoneering route.

The Permit fees vary based on the amount of people: $10 for about $1-2 people, $15 for around 3-7 people, and $20 for around 8-12 people.

Seasons and Temperature

The park is accessible all year round and summers and autumn are the peak times.

During spring, that is March to May, the seasonal waterfalls burst through the many cracks observed in the canyon. This is when the Virgin normally starts it spring runoff and renders the Narrows (Zion Narrows) completely unhikeable until around the months of June and July. The cottonwood trees begin blooming at mid-April from the winter, start coming to life. For most of the Upper East Canyon and the main parts of Zion canyon are unpassable but the Lava point and Kolob terrace may still have snow till mid-April.

1. Summer starts mid-June with the daytime temperatures ranging 90 to 105 degrees F. The Zion Canyon Narrows are usually open from mid-June but it may vary depending in the snow amount. All the trails and other sections of the park are open and accessible but the desert lowlands can be very hot at this point. Bring a lot of water and try to limit your activities either in the morning or evening.

2. During autumn, there are a lot of wonderful things to observe. You can get to enjoy the color changes during these few months. Kolob Section and Kolob Terrace, among higher sections of Zion National Park, have their leaves starting to turn during September. In the Zion Canyon, cottonwoods turn to golden yellow in mid-October. The hiking trails still remain open but river hikes such as Zion Narrows, require more protection from cold. The other park sections remain open until the first snow signals start showing.

3. When winter streaming in during December all the way to February, the Zion Canyon as well as Route 9 remains open but most businesses in Springdale are closed. The Zion Shuttle does not run thus you will be required to come with your own car. High day temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit but the night temperatures are freezing. Kolob Canyons section remains open with lower temperatures but the Kolob Terrace and other higher elevation are not accessible by car as they are fully covered by snow.


Post by: Clay Hunter – Travel Writer,