HikingZion.com has been created as a guide to help you with the planning of your trip to Zion National Park. All information courtesy of Zion Rock and Mountain Guides. These guys are a great source of information for any activity you have in mind while visiting Zion National Park.
Are you looking for... the best hike? a scenic drive? an easy trail suited for kids? the best coffee in town? a cool place to escape the summer heat? Or are you just looking for an evening hang-out to relax with friends, drink beer, and listen to live music? We have the answers to these questions and much more! This guide will help you make the right decisions based on your time, interests, goals and motivation.
Introduction to Zion National Park
A visit to Zion provides us with the opportunity to encounter spectacular and wild places. Often times, this requires the visitor to accept inherent risks involved with negotiating some pretty rugged and hairy terrain. Being keenly aware of and understanding these risks before you head out the door will help you safely enjoy your adventure.
Some of the trails in Zion are like big jungle gyms. They are fun and exciting, but they also require the hiker to be alert and careful. Trails like Angel's Landing and Hidden Canyon lure the hiker along uneven exposed steps with chains for balance. The Narrows hike is, at times, similar to hiking on greasy bowling balls. It also has a few small cliffs and waterfalls that become diving boards for excited children. The adventure factor is high, but the risk of injury is also high for the unknowing visitor. The number one reason to call out the Zion Search and Rescue Team is falling/slipping accidents. Don't be careless and keep your children close! The Canyon Overlook trail, Emerald Pools, and Observation Point have steep drop-offs, be aware of your surroundings especially around the cliff edges. Suppress the urge to jump, make good decisions. Not only are rescues in Zion labor intensive and difficult, but the rescuers are often putting their lives in danger to save you.
One of the most striking features of Zion are the sheer vertical sandstone cliffs. Many of the trails are quite steep. Hiking these natural stair-masters in the desert heat works up a great deal of sweat. Heat and sun exposure incidents are common in Zion. Drink! And Eat! It is important to keep your body well hydrated and fueled throughout the day with frequent snacks. Save your skin and regulate your temperature by wearing sunscreen, hats, and protective clothing. The desert is a harsh environment with extreme temperature changes in just one day. Sunny and hot one minute, freezing cold and storming the next. You should be prepared for anything! Weather happens! Cold, hot, wind, rain, hail, or snow can occur any time of the year. Always carry appropriate clothing for a wide range of conditions, you'll be happy you did!
This is canyon country. Flash floods are a serious threat in Zion. July, August, and September are considered our "monsoon season" and therefore, flash floods are more likely to occur during this time of year. However, these powerful and potentially fatal floods can happen any time of the year. Your ambivalence and lack of information can kill you. Before you go, be sure you know! Stop by the Zion Backcountry desk or Zion Rock and Mountain Guides to find out the current weather conditions and patterns, flash flooding potential, and specific trail information.
Zion Visitor Center
The Visitor Center in Zion Canyon is located just inside the south entrance of the park. There you will find helpful information from knowledgeable rangers, outdoor displays, and interpretive patio talks. The Zion Natural History Association offers an official gift shop and bookstore. This is also where you catch the free park shuttle. If your plan includes an adventure, permits for overnight backpacking, canyoneering, and climbing are available at the Backcountry Desk. Backcountry rangers can help you plan your backcountry trip. You can also make reservations for certain backcountry trips online at the Zion National Park website:
Zion NP General Information 435-772-3256
Zion NP Backcountry Information 435-772-0170
Leave No Trace
Since the 1960s, recreational use of America's public lands has increased dramatically. Because of this high use, our wildlands suffer and pay the price for our ignorance. It is our responsibility to maintain and care for this fragile desert ecosystem for future generations to enjoy. As you explore Zion National Park and all wild places, please be mindful of the following principles, so that you can "Leave No Trace."
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare-Do your homework! Read, Read! and then read some more! Ensure the safety of yourself and your group by gathering as much information as you can about your destination. This includes regulations, permits, maps, weather (current and typical patterns), proper equipment, hazards and risks, food and water, and skills. Be responsible!!
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces-Slickrock is your friend! Protect the desert by staying on resistant surfaces such as maintained trails, expanses of rock, established campsites, gravel, sand or dry creek beds. When hiking in the backcountry, take special care to not step on cryptobiotic soil crusts. These blankets of protruding black stalks are the key to life in arid lands. They nourish the desert soil, prevent erosion, and absorb water. Don't bust the crust!
3. Dispose of Waste Properly-Poop is your friend! Take it with you.
4. Leave What You Find-Mud handprints are not cool!
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts-Smokey says, "Only you can prevent forest fires!"
6. Respect Wildlife-Admire from afar, these cute little squirrels will tear your hand off! They might also carry infectious diseases.
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors-Make like a mouse, be quiet!
Stay Safe Be Prepared Have fun!-but remember, Your Safety is Your Responsibility!
Zion's Free Shuttle Buses
Need a ride?? There is a free shuttle service provided by Zion National Park. This service runs in both Zion and the town of Springdale. Please see the provided map for a list of stops and notable important locations. The shuttles run March through October. See the park newspaper for a specific daily schedule as schedules change with the seasons. During these months private vehicles are not allowed up the main canyon which starts at canyon junction. The ride from the visitor center to the Temple of Sinawava takes about 45 minutes. Feel free to get off at any of the shuttle stops and trail heads.
Zion Rock Shuttle Reservations- 435-772-3303
Many hiking trailheads in Zion are outside the scope of the free shuttle busses. If you are seeking transportation to one of these trailheads Zion Rock and Mountain Guides offers a daily shuttle service to: Chamberlins Ranch-Daily 6:00 and 9:00 am West Rim Trailhead at Lava PT. Lee Pass in Kolob Canyons and other locations by reservation.
Springdale- Java & Food
Get your mojo goin'. If your morning drug is caffeine, don't miss out on The Mean Bean. This is where the kool kats hang out and sip their coffee-a great meeting place to discuss the days adventures (and get that little kick to get up Angel's Landing!) A favorite gathering place for locals, you are sure to experience the flavor and flair of Springdale here-colorful personalities, lively conversations, ass-kickin' lattes, and perhaps, a quick witty one-liner from "Mean Joe Bean" himself. On your way to the park, pick up snacks at The Sol Foods Market which is just outside the south entrance. They have a great variety of snacks, treats, and drinks to keep you well-fueled all day long. Have fun in the park!
After an exciting and tiring day of exploring the park, it's now time to relax and enjoy the evening, and most importantly EAT! Springdale is small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in the quality of its restaurants and shops. The Bit & Spur offers a fun saloon atmosphere as well as a nice indoor and patio setting to enjoy a great Mexican influenced dinner. If you're here at the right time this is also a great place for live music. Flanigan's Inn houses The Spotted Dog Café, a very nice dining atmosphere and excellent food. (It also has a scenic porch set under the cliffs of Zion to enjoy a beautiful and yummy breakfast-check out the French Toast!) Head to The Pizza & Noodle with your family to enjoy a wide variety of delicious gourmet pizzas. Be sure to save room for dessert!-walk next door to The Zion Park Deli and grab an ice cream cone or sundae. (Mmmm.Moosetracks!) If your dogs aren't barking too painfully yet, take an after-dinner stroll along Zion Park Boulevard and check out Springdale's unique gift shops and amazing art galleries.
If you just couldn't leave home without your best friend, there are several options for you and your companion. In Zion, take your dog for a walk on the Pa'rus Trail. This paved trail begins at the Visitor Center and meanders along the Virgin River under the looming cliffs of The Watchman, Bridge Mountain, and The Streaked Wall. This trail takes you to the junction with the Scenic Drive and is about 3 miles round trip. Keep your dog on a leash-park regulations! This is the only trail in the park that you may take your dog, so venture a little farther outside of the park to other neat places like The Eagle Crags Trail in Rockville. If you like to bike with your "wander-dog", Gooseberry Mesa and The Rockville Bench Trail offer world class mountain biking and incredible views. But if you are really psyched on hiking The Narrows or hoofing it up to Observation Point, rest asure, there is a reliable and friendly place to leave your dog. The Doggy Dude Ranch will comfortably house your pooch for a reasonable fee. Give 'em a call at 435-772-3105.
Great stuff to see and do Beyond Zion
With your trip to Zion you have entered the gates to a vast array of outdoor opportunities. Southern Utah offers some of the best opportunities for Climbing, Hiking and Mountain Biking, Fishing and Boating.
Snow Canyon State Park is a spectacular setting for hikes and road cycling. Camping in Snow canyon is also available and is a great alternative for getting off the beaten path. Snow Canyon is also one of Southern Utah's premiere rock climbing destinations with moderate routes ranging from 100 to 800ft with spectacular red rock vistas. This is also a great place to take in your first day of climbing. Zion Rock and Mountain Guides offers climbing experiences for all levels. Call us at 435-772-3303 or stop by our shop for rates and family specials.
Saint George has two local reservoirs a short drive from Zion that are great for beating the summer heat offering swimming, boating and fishing. Quail Lake and Sand Hollow Reservoir are located on State Rte 9 between Hurricane and the I-15.
Gooseberry Mesa and Little Creek are two of Southern Utah's greatest draws for Mountain Biking. These slickrock riding opportunities, in many ways rival those found in Moab but without the drive and the crowds. Springdale Cycles has maps and guided tours to these and many other trails in Southern Utah.
Snow Canyon State Park
Cedar Breaks and Brian Head boast elevations exceeding 11,000ft. Along with Bryce Canyon National Park and The North Rim of the Grand Canyon these places offer opportunities to escape the summer heat and are within two hours of Zion National Park Recreational opportunities include mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking and fishing.