This post may contains affiliate links, including Amazon Associate links. I may earn small commission if you click one. This is at no extra cost to you.
November 1919, President Wilson established Zion as a National Park. Since then, Zion National Park, became one of the most touristic and popular national parks in the nation. It’s definitely a bucket list destination for adventurous people around the world. The views are breathtaking, and the hikes are incredible!
It is the perfect place for memorable hikes, adventures, and stunning views!
Here you’ll find everything you need to know for the perfect, most memorable trip! Starting from safety information, recommended hikes, what you need to bring, and some logistics.
Flash Flood Warning–
Make sure you check the weather- there are Flash Flood warnings in Zion. In cases of floods, the water levels can rise rapidly in the narrows which can be extremely dangerous. Hikers have died when they got caught in flash floods. Check out the weather and the risk for flash floods before you start your trip!
Wildlife in Zion-
There are 78 species of mammals in Zion. The most popular animals are mule deer, squirrels, bats, foxes, and desert bighorn sheep. You are not allowed to feed them, and you should keep a safe distance.
There are cougars, mountain lions, bobcats, grey foxes, and coyotes. They’re usually active at night.
There are plenty of bucket list hikes and adventures in Zion National Park!
Shuttle stop: Temple of Sinawava
Distance: 5 to 9.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous
Recommended equipment: Waterproof phone case, dry bag, walking poles, waterproof socks, hiking boots, clothing that isn’t made from cotton. You can bring them in advance or rent them at Springdale.
One of Zion’s classic hikes. You can reach it if you take the shuttle (it is the last stop). In order to get to the trail, you need to take the Riverside Walk (or The Gateway to the Narrows). It is an easy trail that fits everyone. It takes less than a mile to reach The Narrows where you will get wet immediately, even if you’re not hiking the whole trail. Pay attention to your bag (I recommend having some waterproof bags to put your phone and other important stuff). You can rent walking poles and river-specific shoes at the park entrance.
Personally, I think the walking poles are extremely helpful and can make hiking much easier. As for the shoes, it’s up to you, you can carry dry shoes with you to change later, continue the trip with your wet shoes (not so bad, I did it and the trail back isn’t long, you get into the shuttle back to your car and can change your shoes there).
Shuttle stop: Temple of Sinawava
Distance: 2.2 miles
If you don’t want to do The Narrows, you can walk along the Virgin River. It is the most accessible trail in Zion and fits families and wheelchairs (wheelchairs may need assistance). It is beautiful diverse scenery that makes that time fly! You can walk inside the river if you want or continue to the Narrows as much as you like.
Distance: 1 mile
Location: East of Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel
Unlike most of the hikes in this guide, you will need a car to get to this trail. It is a breathtaking trail and one of my favorite hikes. The views are incredible, and you get to see a beautiful viewpoint at the main canyon. People like going there during sunrise or sunset where you can watch the skies and enjoy the place. It is a MUST-DO hike!
Pay attention- It is considered moderate because there are a few exposed spots where falls may be dangerous. Be cautious if you have troubles with balance or are hiking with children.
Extra- Mt. Carmel Tunnel is amazing! I highly recommend driving through it during your trip. I drove through it when I hiked Canyon Overlook and then to Bryce National Park. It is a 1.5-hour drive from Zion to Bryce if you take this road through Route 9.
Shuttle stop: Zion Lodge
Distance: 1.2 miles to the Lower Pool, 2 miles to the Middle and Lower, 2.5 miles for all three pools
Difficulty: Easy (lower pool); moderate (middle and upper pools)
There are three options for this trail, and you may choose from a short 1.2 miles to the Lower Pool, 2 miles to the Middle and Lower, 2.5 miles for all three. The Lower Pool is accessible and people in wheelchairs can travel with assistance. The Middle and Upper are more challenging and rockier.
Extra– the Zion Lodge stop is a great spot to take a break. You can get coffee and sit on the grass of one of the picnic tables. The view is incredible and it’s the perfect spot to relax after a hike.
Distance: 5.4 miles round trip
Shuttle stop: The Grotto
I couldn’t finish this guide without writing a little about Angel’s landing. It is one of the most iconic hikes at Zion and offers one of the world’s most spectacular views. This is a challenging hike that doesn’t fit everyone. Some claim it may be one of the most dangerous hikes but if you come prepared and hike safely, the view is unreal.
Things to Bring
- National Park Permit- the entrance fee is $35; I recommend buying the yearly pass for $80 (especially if you’re planning on visiting more parks)
- Snacks and sandwiches
- First aid kit- always good to carry
- Comfortable hiking shoes- bring extra shoes if you’re doing the Narrows.
- Water Water and Water- it is extremely hot in Zion, especially during the summer. You don’t want to get stuck without water. You want to bring at least 1.5 liters of water per person for 4 hours.
- Waterproof phone case
- Walking poles- recommended if you’re doing the Narrows. You don’t have to bring in advance, you can rent there.
Pay attention- there is no service at the park. Make sure you download your maps in advance. It’s fairly easy to navigate but if you’re driving long distances (I drove from Zion to Bryce, and it took a while until the GPS worked).
Zion National Park’s Shuttle information-
Some places mention that you need a permit for the scenic road shuttle. The permit costs $1 online but it’s hard to get a reservation unless you book right when they release tickets.
When I arrived, we didn’t have permits because the trip was a last-minute decision. However, the shuttle was free and arrived every few seconds. It was extremely easy to use them and enjoy the hikes on Zion’s scenic road. When we asked the national park services, they said the service is for free. I recommend calling the visitor center if you can’t get tickets in advance and make sure the free shuttles are still available.
Another option is renting bikes and ride until you reach your destination. There are some companies in Springdale that offer shuttles, but the price is around $40 per ticket.
Saying this, if the shuttle is unavailable there are a few hikes and places you can explore without the shuttle. One of them is Kolob which is located in the northwestern section of Zion. It is less crowded but provides unique and spectacular views. Another option is driving through the Mt. Carmel tunnel and explore the east rim. After you cross the tunnel, you can hike the Canyon Overlook, Cable Mountain trail, or the Observation Point.