Tips for Visiting Zion National Park
Zion National Park is such an iconic and highly popular place to visit in Utah. I can see why! With beautiful peaks, deep canyons, wonderful trails and views, what’s not to love about this national park?
Located in Springdale, Zion National Park is near the southwestern part of Utah. The park displays its beautiful but steep sandstone red cliffs with green trees. This contrast of steep red cliffs, green trees, and high peeks makes for some amazing views!
The drive to Zion National Park from Salt Lake City, Utah is about 4.5 hours! It’s a bit of a drive. If you plan on staying put in the town of Springdale to explore the park for a few days, then it’s worth it.
You can check out my previous blog post where I detail my 3 day solo trip itinerary in Utah, Zion being on the itinerary of course, and my experience in the park!
If you’ve read that post, then you know the hassle I went through with trying to get into the park and onto the trails. Long story short, I never made it onto any trails.
The link to check out National Park Service (NPS), from shuttles to trails, will be here for you to use for your trip. To save you some pain and headache, here are some tips for you to use when you visit Zion National Park
1. Go before or after peak hours
If you plan on visiting Zion National Park, especially if you’re planning to go on the trails, get there before 9am or after 2pm. Why? Because 9am to 2pm is a peak time for the park. When I visited the park, I arrived around noon. Needless to say, I waited for a while in line with no parking options in the town or in the park.
To ensure you get a spot and a shuttle to the trails, take my advice and head to the park during off peak hours.
2. Have a full tank of gas
This goes without saying but definitely fill up your tank prior to entering the park, if you decide to drive through it. There are no gas stations in the park at all. Get gas in the town of Springdale prior to entering the park. Once you’re in the park, there’s nothing until you exit the park.
To prevent being stranded in the middle of the park, fill that tank up before hand!
3. Catch the free shuttle
Did you know there’s a free shuttle that takes you to the trails in Zion? Park in the town of Springdale and catch the free shuttle. The shuttle makes stops within the town prior to going into the park. So, make sure you park somewhere in Springdale, walk to the shuttle stop and wait for the free shuttle to arrive.
4. Purchase your shuttle ticket at 9am the day before
This paid shuttle is relatively new, just starting in either February or March of 2021. When I was doing my research for this park, this paid shuttle wasn’t operating at the time.
The shuttle ticket costs $1. You should buy it either weeks ahead before you visit the park or at 9am the day before you plan on visiting the park. The ticket(s) have to be purchased online, beforehand and not at the park. If you try to pay for the shuttle at the park entrance, they won’t do it.
5. Catch the free shuttle inside the park
The other option, if you can’t find parking in Springdale like me, is to catch the free shuttle from inside the park. Just go through the entrance, park in the visitors parking center and wait for the shuttle to pick you up.
6. Drive through the park and make multiple pit stops
If you get to the town or the park, and cannot find parking anywhere like myself, don’t worry! You can still go through the park, it just won’t be in the conventional sense like going on a trail.
What you can do is drive through the park! That’s right, you can DRIVE through this national park. There are multiple pull off or pit stop points along the curvy roads. You call pull your car or motorcycle off to the side, take pictures, videos, or wander down the canyon below. Once you’re done, you get in your vehicle and carry onto the next stop.
This is such a cool way of seeing the park because you get to see more of the park, at various points and heights, in the comfort of your car with the AC on (because it’s hot out there!) and do some off the beaten path exploration.
7. Bring snacks and water with you
This is super important. Make sure you bring lots of snacks and water with you. It’s important to stay hydrated and fed while going on hikes or trails. If not, you run the risk of becoming very sick. Simply pack things before you enter the park or get some supplies in the town of Springdale.
8. Bring comfy shoes for walking
People tend to neglect this aspect of walking. Be sure to wear comfy but durable shoes meant for trails or hiking. Not only will you have comfort but also ankle support when you’re walking over rocks and uneven surfaces.
9. Bathrooms don’t have running water or soap – hand sanitizer or wet wipes
Just know that there are a few bathrooms here and there throughout the park. However, they don’t have a sink with running water or soap to wash your hands. There’s a sanitizer station in them if you don’t have anything on you, so at least you can sanitize your hands.
If you’re like me, and don’t like using public sanitizer stations, I highly recommend you bringing hand sanitizer wipes or wet wipes. These types of wipes can be used to sanitize the surface of things and your hands as well. They’re great staples you should have on hand when you’re traveling, especially when you’re in public bathrooms like the ones in Zion National Park.
10. Have a First Aid kit on hand
You never know what’s going to happen to either yourself or someone else. For those “just in case” moments where yourself or someone else is injured or hurt, you’re able to have basic first aid supplies to help the situation.
When I travel, I have a travel sized first aid bag. Not only does it have band aids and gauze pads, but also items such as blister pads, Pedialyte to replenish electrolytes, Ibuprofen, Imodium tablets, allergy medication, and other items. You just never know and it’s better to be prepared than to have nothing at all!
11. Download trails offline
If you go on any of the trails, I recommend downloading the AllTrails app. This app allows you to find trails and download them so you can access them offline. Although, this feature is only on the paid version. However, you can save the trails onto a list, you just may not have service/signal when you’re out in the park.
I hope you use these tips on your next trip to Zion National Park, happy travels!