Zion National Park is a stunning place, with deep valleys, narrow slot canyons, and breathtaking scenery. It was Utah’s first national park, and it’s one of the most popular parks in the United States – for good reason! From the famous Angels Landing trail that will give even experienced hikers an adrenaline boost to easy walks in the valley, the park truly has a hike for everyone. This guide will tell you about the best hikes in Zion National Park, along with some tips for exploring!
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Table of Contents
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Getting to the Hikes in Zion National Park
If you’re flying in to explore the park, most people fly into the Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. From there, it’s a 3 hour drive to Zion National Park. There is also the St. George Regional Airport in St. George, Utah, which is smaller, but you can usually get there with a layover.
Expedia is a good way to find flights and rental cars, I also super recommend signing up for Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) – they send you amazing deals, so you can find cheap flights to Vegas, and to destinations all over the world. The free account is great and totally worth the few minutes it takes to sign up, and I do recommend the premium account too!
Taking a Shuttle to Zion National Park
If you don’t want to rent a car, there is an option for exploring Zion National Park with public transportation. You’ll need to get to the town of Springdale, and once you’re there, Springdale has a free shuttle that can take you to the visitor’s center!
Once you’re in the park, you’ll take the park shuttle. Be aware that it only runs during the busy season, usually from the beginning of March through the end of November, as well as at the end of December for the holiday season. The shuttle runs on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, and private vehicles are not allowed on this road when the shuttle is operating. This is where most of these best hikes in Zion National Park are located, but there are a few that are in less popular areas of the park, where you can take your own car.
Driving to Zion National Park
You can also drive into Zion National Park. If you fly in to explore, you can rent a car through Discover Cars or Rental Cars. But, a great alternative to a rental car is a tiny home on wheels! With a camper van, you get a vehicle and a place to sleep, all in one! This is my favorite way to travel, and you can rent a fully decked out van with Escape Campervans. Another option for vans is to use Outdoorsy, which is more like Airbnb for campers – you can rent a van, RV, or trailer from a person in the area.
There are a few ways to enter the park – the most popular entrance is north of Springdale. To get to the park, you’ll take Highway 9 north from Springdale, which will take you right into the park.
One thing to note if you drive into the park – when the shuttle is running, private vehicles are not allowed on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which is where many of the most popular trails begin. If you visit during the busy season when the shuttle is running, you can park your car at the visitor center – I would definitely recommend getting there early in the day, as parking fills up quickly and lines for the shuttle can get very long.
Take a Tour of Zion National Park
Another option for exploring Zion National Park is to take a tour! This is a great option for people who want a guide to show them all the best spots, or those who don’t want to find their own transportation.
Check out some tours of Zion National Park here:
Entrance Fee for Zion National Park Trails
To hike at Zion National Park, you will need to pay the entrance fee – and you’ll need to display your pass in your car anytime you park.
It costs $35 per car, but if you visit national parks often (or at least more than twice a year), I recommend getting an America the Beautiful Pass! It’s an annual pass that will get you into every national park in the country for an entire year, for just $80.
You can purchase either pass on your way into the park, or get an America the Beautiful pass online ahead of time!
The Best Time for Hiking in Zion National Park
You can hike in Zion National Park any time of year, but I recommend going during the off season. Busy season in Zion National Park is March through the end of November – during this time you have to take the shuttle around the park, rather than driving. Winter can be a tough time to hike, because of snow, wind, and cold weather, and summers are very hot, but if you plan your hike for just before or just after the busy season, you’ll enjoy good weather and fewer people!
I recommend hiking in early March or late November, but be sure to check the weather.
What to Bring to Hike in Zion National Park
To help you pack for hiking in Zion National Park, here are some essentials to bring with you!
- Hiking Shoes – make sure you bring shoes with good grip. I prefer hiking in sandals and usually hike in my Chacos, but boots are a good idea for more ankle support. I love my Danner boots – and they come in men’s and women’s.
- Layers – it gets pretty chilly in Zion when you’re at high elevation, or hiking close to sunrise or sunset, so a lightweight windbreaker or a fleece is a good idea. If you’re hiking in winter or for sunrise or sunset, I love my Columbia puffy jacket – it’s lightweight, and water resistant!
- Backpack – you’ll need a backpack for water and snacks. I use an Osprey Hikelite 26L.
- Headlamp – always bring a headlamp just in case, or if you plan to do a sunrise or sunset hike.
- Hiking poles – if you have knee pain going downhill, poles help a lot with that!
- Water – water is a must, always. I usually bring my 2L hydration pack on hikes, along with a Nalgene water bottle that I put electrolytes in.
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Zion National Park Hiking Map
In the next section, I’ll talk about all of these hikes – but this map of the best hikes in Zion National Park will give you an overview!
The green hiker icons are easy hikes, and the orange ones are more difficult – the red icons are the hardest hikes.
The Best Easy Hikes in Zion National Park
There are trails for everyone – so if you’re looking for something that isn’t too challenging, here are the best easy hikes in Zion National Park! If you want to explore more of the park in a shorter amount of time, you can knock out a few of these trails in one day.
Remember – “easy” is definitely subjective! For this guide, I’m considering any trail with less than 200 feet of elevation gain to be easy, while anything longer than that will be in the next section!
This is a short, easy hike with great views of the river and the surrounding cliffs. It’s accessible for wheelchairs and strollers, and is the only hike in Zion National Park where dogs are allowed!
Distance: 3.2 miles (5.1 km) out and back
Elevation Gain: 134 feet (41 m)
Zion Narrows Riverside Walk
The Narrows is a famous hike in Zion National Park that requires hiking (and sometimes basically swimming) in the river – and the Riverside Walk is the beginning of that trail! This is perfect for people who don’t want to do the entire trek, but want to see the river. This easy, mostly paved path takes you along the river, with views of the canyon walls.
Distance: 1.9 miles (3.1 km) out and back
Elevation Gain: 193 feet (59 m)
Hike Time: I consider myself to be an average hiker, and this trail took me 54 minutes. You can check out my hike on Strava!
Zion Canyon Overlook Trail
This trail is short, but incredibly scenic! It starts out pretty steep, with stairs chiseled into the rock, and follows along a cliff side (people who are afraid of heights might want to sip this one) to a really stunning view of Zion Canyon. The view is similar to what you would see at Angels Landing, but with a much easier hike!
Distance: 1 miles (1.6 km) out and back
Elevation Gain: 187 feet (57 m)
Hike Time: I consider myself to be an average hiker, and this trail took me 39 minutes. You can check out my hike on Strava!
The Best Day Hikes in Zion National Park
Here are a few harder hikes in the park – these Zion National Park day hikes are more challenging, so make sure you’re prepared!
If you do one hike in Zion National Park, it should be this one! The Angels Landing trail is a stunning, though at times slightly terrifying, hike that requires navigating on narrow rock ledges, holding onto chains for support, and a little bit of scrambling. Though this hike isn’t recommended for people who are afraid of heights (unless you’re ready to tackle that fear), it’s a really rewarding, incredibly scenic, and super fun trail. A permit is required year round, so read this guide to find out how to get one!
Length: 5.4 miles (8.7 km) out and back
Elevation Gain: 1488 feet (454 meters)
Hike Time: I consider myself to be an average hiker, and this trail took me 4 hours and 2 minutes, including taking a snack break at the top. You can check out my hike on Strava!
I’ll be honest – the actual pools weren’t really anything special, but the views along the trail are! You’ll have views of the canyon, and see a few small waterfalls along the way. Some people turn back after the Lower Pools, but I recommend continuing on to the Upper Pools too.
Length: 3 miles (4.8 km) loop – but a bridge was closed when I went, so I had to do this trail as an out and back, and it ended up being about 4 miles (6.4 km)
Elevation Gain: 620 feet (189 meters)
Hike Time: I consider myself to be an average hiker, and this trail took me 1 hour and 50 minutes. You can check out my hike on Strava!
This trail begins in the same place as Angels Landing, but stops just before the chain section. Scout Lookout is a great place to end the hike if you weren’t able to get a permit for Angels Landing, or if you’re afraid of heights! You’ll have amazing views of the cliffs surrounding the valley below.
Length: 3.6 miles (5.8 km) out and back
Elevation Gain: 1115 feet (340 meters)
The Watchman Trail begins by the visitors center, with views of the river before ascending up. The views get better and better, and you can see Zion Canyon and the town of Springdale!
Length: 3.1 miles (5 km) out and back
Elevation Gain: 636 feet (194 meters)
Hike Time: I consider myself to be an average hiker, and this trail took me 1 hour and 44 minutes. You can check out my hike on Strava!
This was one of my favorite hikes in Zion National Park, second only to Angels Landing! It’s in a more remote, much less popular area of the park, so there were very few people on the trail. The hike takes you through a forest of ponderosa pines, which is a nice change from the dry desert scenery, starting out flat and easy. But, once you get to the peaks, you’ll need to scramble up the rock – it’s challenging, but the view at the top is really incredible! One of them is accessible without climbing experience, though it definitely requires some thought and occasional crawling on all fours. The other peak is a class 3 scramble, which requires some rock climbing gear and experience, so I didn’t attempt that one.
Length: 6 miles (9.7 km) out and back
Elevation Gain: 1118 feet (341 meters)
Hike Time: I consider myself to be an average hiker, and this trail took me 3 hour and 11 minutes, including a snack break at the top, but I did skip the second peak because I don’t have rock climbing experience. You can check out my hike on Strava!
Where to Stay When You Hike in Zion National Park
You can definitely do these hikes as a day trip, but it’s also fun to turn your trip into a little getaway! If you want to stay near the park, here are some ideas.
Glamping, Cabins, & Yurts
For a unique place to stay during your trip, check out Hipcamp! It’s like Airbnb for campsites – and you can find yurts, cabins, glamping sites, and more. There’s a unique spot right outside of the park called Under Canvas, which offer unique glamping tents to stay in!
You can even get $10 off your first booking here!
A Camper van
With a camper van, you get a vehicle and a place to sleep, all in one! This is my favorite way to travel, and you can rent a fully decked out van with Escape Campervans. Another option is to use Outdoorsy, which is more like Airbnb – you can rent vans, RVs, and trailers from people who live nearby!
Find a Campsite
Whether you car camp, tent camp, or rent a tiny home on wheels, The Dyrt is the best way to find campsites! There are campgrounds in the national park, as well as plenty of BLM land surrounding it – which means you can camp for free!
There are lots options for free camping near the park – for tips on finding the best ones, check out this guide.
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Lodges & Hotels
There are also plenty of hotels and vacation rentals just outside the park. Springdale is the nearest town, with lodging options like the Zion Park Motel. Virgin, Utah is also just a short drive away, and has some unique places to stay – like Autocamp, where you can stay in a unique Airstream!
Booking.com is a great place to find lodging, and for more options, check out this map of places to stay. Make sure to change the dates, and zoom out to see all of your options!Booking.com
More Adventures Near Zion National Park
Have you done any of these hikes in Zion National Park, or have any recommendations for other trails? Let me know in a comment below!
For more adventures, check out Valley of Fire State Park, not too far away in Nevada!
For more US national parks, check out these guides:
Pin any of these photos to save the best hikes in Zion National Park and reference this guide later!