Zion is known for its high plateaus, narrow, but deep canyons
cut in sandstone and its stately rock towers and mesas. As the original
flat the surface
material was subject to erosion, ravines began to form and channel
runoff into streams and rivers. These new agents opened even more of the
surface to the erosive agents of wind, gravity, rain, and the
powerful force of freezing and thawing. The result of this
concerted action produced the magnificent landscape of Zion Canyon,
which is known
massive sentinels and narrow, sometimes wild, canyons. The area's
rivers and streams continue to cut through the Plateau as they seek to
flow to lower elevations.
Flowing water is still at work in the park and when it rains
"up-canyon" the small streams you observe on
calm days can become raging torrents on others.. It has
been observed by scientists that some of the rivers in the park can have their flow volume
increased 100 times by intense thunderstorms. If you are going to hike
in to remote areas watch the weather and pay
attention to the information provided by the Visitor Centers about
important to know that the park is composed of a wide variety of
sedimentary rock layers. Some are brittle and may give way when
stepped on, others are slippery and some rock types have both
characteristics. Even worse when the weather turns wet many of these
rock layers are a danger for hikers and other rock scramblers.
There are two main entrances to the Park. The most popular is
the South Entrance near the town of Springdale, Utah. There is an
Eastern Entrance about ten miles east on the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway.
While the scenery along the eastern road is gorgeous, it does not quite reach
the level of Zion Canyon. If you desire more solitude than you
will find in Zion, you can head up the Kolob road to the Lower Kolob
Plateau area, although the Kolob Terrace Road is closed in winter.
Zion National park is closed to vehicular traffic. While there is parking lot
near the South Entrance to the Park, it is easiest to park in nearby Springdale (there are 9 stops
in this small town) and ride the free National Park Service Shuttle to
the Park entrance and Visitor Center. A second shuttle route runs the
six-mile long Zion canyon Scenic Drive and a ride on this
delightful circuit lasts approximately 90 minutes. Buses run from dawn to
dark, as often as every 7 minutes. You can get on or off the
shuttles at the stops
of interest to you. See the park website for more
details on the
Park elevations range from
around 3,500 feet to over 8,000 in the high country. The Zion
Canyon area is around 4,000 ft. in elevation, but everywhere from there is
uphill (except the exits from the Park).
The entrance fee to the park is $25 per private vehicle, $12 for
pedestrian or cyclist. Admission is for 7 days. Discounts are available
for seniors (aged 62 and older).
Open all year, although some facilities may be closed or offer
reduced hours during some parts of the year. The Zion Canyon
Visitor Center (highly recommended) is open daily, except Christmas, and
its hours are variable depending on the season. At the very least,
it is scheduled to be open from 8 am to 5 pm; it is open later in
summer and fall. See the official Zion National Park website for
more details on
are a number of programs led by park rangers, including walks and hikes,
shuttle tours and an interesting evening program. Trails that you might
consider hiking include Weeping Rock Trail, Court of the
Patriarchs Trail, Lower Emerald Pool Trail, Riverside Walk, Watchman
Trail, Hidden Canyon Trail and Angels Landing Trail. See this
downloadable file from the Zion National Park website for a thorough
introduction to the Park and its
Zion has three campgrounds, two of which are in Zion
Canyon while the other is in Kolob Terrace, about an hour's drive north.
Reservations for the campgrounds in the Canyon are recommended.
See this page from the National Park Service Website on Zion for more
experiences a wide range of weather conditions throughout the year and
extreme changes from day to night temperatures of over 30 degrees
are possible anytime of the year. .
Summer days are warm and sometimes hot, but nights are usually mild.
Afternoon thunderstorms are common mid-July through mid-September and
flash flooding in some of the narrower canyons is a possibility when
We think that September and October are the best times of year
to visit Zion. The autumn color change in foliage usually start in September
in the high county and peak in Zion Canyon in late October. Winter is
the most challenging season for a visit and you should be prepared for winter driving conditions
anytime from from November through March (when precipitation peaks). As you know,
weather can be variable and the guidelines we have provided here may not
be exactly the weather you experience on your journey.
The nearest major airports are Las Vegas, Nevada (164 miles) and Salt Lake
City, Utah (309 miles).
Many visitors prefer to stay at the Lodge at Zion National Park.
You can find more about the lodge
here, as well as make reservations. As
in the other National Parks in Utah, the reservations are provided by Xanterra,
a company that holds the exclusive license to manage the lodging
properties within the park.
A wide variety of lodging and restaurants can be found in Springdale, Utah, just
outside the park. Springdale is a pleasant, little town, with some
pizza parlors and modest shopping.
Canyon National Park is approximately 54 miles to the east of
Zion, while the Grand Canyon's North Rim is around 128 miles. The
Grand Canyon's panoramic South Rim is 248 miles, a function of the fact
that you need to detour around the
Grand Canyon to see
see the South Rim.
National Park is 286 miles southwest and should be combined with a visit to
Vegas (142 miles), as long as you are in the area. If you do
wander down to Vegas, you will enjoy the ride and might want to take at
quick look at St. George, Utah (45 miles) one of the fastest growing
cities in Utah due to its attractiveness as a retirement community for
those attracted to the great outdoors.