Zion National Park Travel Guide - tips for your first visit

Zion National Park Travel Guide – tips for your first visit

Do you like hiking and are you planning a Southwest USA road trip? Then you just have to visit Zion National Park! The park is filled with great hiking trails and gorgeous viewpoints.

How to get there?

Entrance Zion

Zion National Park is located in the southwest of Utah and is a 3-hour drive from Las Vegas. If you’re coming from the east, it’s a 1.5-hour drive from Bryce Canyon National Park.

The entrance fee is $35 per vehicle, which is valid for seven days. Are you planning to visit multiple national parks within a year? In that case, it will be smart to purchase an America the Beautiful annual pass. This will cost you $80 and is valid for a year in all of the US National Parks.

Where to stay?

Flanigans Inn in Springdale

Zion is not one of those parks where you can just drive through (that’s not even allowed most of the year) and stop at all the viewpoints, but it’s highly recommended to go hiking. Because of that, it’s smart to stay a couple of nights.


Springdale is a very nice town near the southern entrance of Zion. The town is filled with cute hotels and lodges, so you probably will find somewhere to stay. Make sure to book ahead, because prices will increase closer to your visit. The earlier you reserve a room, the cheaper it will be.

I’ve stayed in two different hotels in Springdale:
Bumbleberry Inn
Flanigan’s Inn.

Both are great places to stay, with spacious rooms and a pool to relax after a long day of hiking. For me, I’d prefer Flanigan’s Inn over Bumbleberry Inn, because from here it’s only a 10-minute walk to the entrance of Zion.

If both hotels are not available, I would suggest checking out Booking.com and VRBO for other options.

TIP Have you never booked Airbnb before? Use this link to sign up, and you’ll get a great discount on your first reservation.


Since accommodation in Springdale can be very expensive, you might check out the campgrounds in or near Zion. I went for a stroll on the South Campground and it looked amazing. Great location, lot’s of trees for shade, and you will definitely see some wildlife (I saw many deer wandering around). In proximately, there’s the Watchman Campground, which also looks like a great place to go camping.

Both of these campgrounds are usually fully booked between the months of March and November, so you should book ahead. to get a spot.

How to get around?

Shuttlebus stop in Zion

For most of the year, Zion is only accessible by shuttle bus. There is not a lot of parking space near the visitor center, so it will be smart to park your car somewhere in Springdale.

There are shuttle buses from Springdale to take you to the entrance of the park. And you can also take shuttle buses to explore different areas of the park. The shuttle buses are free of charge.

During high season, the queue for the buses can get very long, so go as early as possible, or wait till later in the afternoon. Check this website for more information about the shuttle buses.

Best time to visit Zion National Park

Zion is open all year round, but a visit during some months is better than others. I visited Zion in March and I consider Zion as one of the best National Parks to visit in March. It was nice and quiet and the weather was perfect (not too cold and not too hot, perfect for hiking).

Other months to visit Zion National park that I can recommend are April – May and September – October. During the summer months, it can get really crowded, and you might have to wait for a shuttle bus for an hour. During the winter months, a lot of the trails will be closed because of snow.


Like I mentioned earlier, Zion National Park is a fantastic place for hiking. These are a couple of the most popular hikes in the park:

Angels Landing

Angels Landing met kettingen

For many people, the hike to Angels Landing is the reason to go to Zion. It’s one of the scariest hikes in the United States of America. The last section will take you over a narrow trail and on both sides, you’ll be able to see the bottom of the canyon, 300 to 400 meters below. There are a couple of poles with chains that you can hold on to if it gets too scary.

However, the view from the top is spectacular and you feel invincible if you’ve made it.

The Narrows

The Narrows is the narrowest place in Zion, and this is also a very popular day hike. Especially during the hot summer months, because you’re hiking as far in the canyon as you want to, in the water of the Virgin River.

Unfortunately, I haven’t done this hike myself. But I will definitely try this one during my next visit to Zion. You can find more information about hiking The Narrows on this website.

Observation Point

Uitzicht vanaf Observation Point

If you think the hike to Angels Landing is too scary, but you do want to have a spectacular view, then I would recommend hiking to Observation Point.

It’s quite a climb, but the views during the hike are amazing and you will see a beautiful slot canyon (Echo Canyon).

The view at the end of the trail is absolutely phenomenal, and you can even see the top of Angels Landing.

More tips for visiting Zion National Park

– It can be very crowded in the park, especially during the summer months. Go to the park as early as possible or after 4 p.m.
– If you don’t need to travel in the summer, I can recommend going to Zion in early March. Perfect weather for hiking and it’s really quiet.
– Trails or roads might be closed due to rockfall. Check out the official website before you go.
– It’s great to visit Zion during a Utah National Parks road trip. There are five National Parks in Utah, and each of them has something special.

You can also get one of these amazing travel guides if you’d like to read more about Zion National Park:

Lonely Planet Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks

Moon Zion & Bryce: With Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante & Moab

I’ve visited Zion National Park twice in the last couple of years. The first time, my visit was part of an amazing road trip in Southwest USA and the second time was during a multi-day trip from Las Vegas.

Would you like to read more about the National Parks in Southwest USA?

Check out these articles as well:
Bryce Canyon National Park: the best trails, the best viewpoints & practical tips
Yellowstone vacation: the ultimate guide
Tips for visiting Yosemite National Park


As a girl from a small town in the Netherlands, I always dreamed of traveling. I thought it would always be a dream, but nowadays, I travel 6 to 8 months a year and I hike thousands of miles on the most beautiful hiking trails. On this website you can read all about my favorite destinations.

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