Zion National Park Travel & Hiking

This Zion National Park hiking guide is a must-read! It covers the top hikes, where to stay, and how you can plan your trip.

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Although I wouldn’t recommend driving through the desert with no air conditioner in September, we are living proof of it.

We traveled from Southern California through the scorching heat of Arizona and Nevada before arriving in Southern Utah. Our plans to drive over 800 miles and cross two states for a weekend were well received by our friends. Many Californians believe that Nevada and Utah have nothing to offer, and have no desire to travel there.

This was a common misconception that many people believed until they discovered Zion National Park. We have been able to see the many natural wonders Utah offers since we visited this refuge.

Zion is home to massive canyons that appear to merge with an immense sky. The walls of sandstone look like oil paints on canvas as hues of red, cream and pink dance across them. We arrived here on a whim, and left with a new appreciation for the beauty of this rugged area that is only seven hours away from our home.

  • Stay Near Zion National Park

If you have the opportunity, I recommend camping in Zion National Park. You have many options inside and outside the park.

When searching for places to stay in Zion National Park, one thing you should remember is to get a campsite number when making a reservation at an RV park or campground.

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Many RV parks offer tent camping. However, it might not be what your looking for if you love the outdoors. Willow Wind Resort in Hurricane is a good option if you prefer to sleep next to the main road in your tent. They will most likely have room for you.

Sand Hollow State Park is located about 45 minutes from Zion and offers a camping option that isn’t in the center of town. You can choose from primitive campsites starting at $13 per night, or full hook-ups with showers starting at $25 per night. The site overlooks Sand Hollow Reservoir, where swimmers may inadvertently contract their itching according to the signs at the gates. You must be aware that the park gates close at 10:00 PM. Late arrivals will not be accepted.

There are also hotels available in St. George. You can find reviews about cleanliness at these hotels. The Sands Motel was a good place to rest your head. However, I will admit that we did use our blankets as they were ours.

Springdale is home to many lodging options. However, you might find that the accommodations are too costly or not enough.

  • Zion National Park: Where to Stay

A few campgrounds are also available within Zion National Park. The Watchman Campground can be reserved, but reservations are required in summer. South Campground is available first-come, first served. Get there early.

  • Tips for Travel to Zion National Park

Zion is not in the middle of nowhere as we expected. It isn’t as primitive as other National Parks that we have visited. If you’re willing to spend a little more, Springdale has many shops and restaurants.

Park parking is easy since there is a free shuttle bus from Springdale to the park entrance. If you’re arriving early or visiting during the off-season, you might be able to get a spot in the park lot. Zion has a shuttle service that runs from April to October. You are not allowed to drive your vehicle during this period on the scenic drive through Upper Zion Canyon.

The park shuttle operates from 6:30 am until 11:00 pm during the summer months. This is a great way to explore the park. They explain the park’s history and show which trails start at each of eight stops. If you travel during summer, be aware that it can get hot and may make it difficult to do some of the more strenuous hikes.

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The Best Hikes in Zion National Park

  • Hike to Emerald Pools

The popular Emerald Pools hike has three levels: the lower, middle, and upper. It is hot and strenuous to climb to the upper pool in the summer. Bring a bathing suit, or at the very least, a towel. It’s worth the effort to visit this pool and cool off with a bit of rest.

  • Riverside Walk Trail

Riverside Walk (Gateway to the Narrows Trail) is the park’s most popular attraction. The trip takes approximately 1.5 hours and follows the river. There will be many wildlife on the trails, including friendly squirrels asking for food, a family deer or a tarantula. It was a hairy spider that scared me to death!

You can continue on the Riverside Walk trail for approximately two miles, wading through water between narrow canyons. Some areas can be quite deep so water shoes are recommended. Others may even use wetsuits. Although the narrow trail is quite challenging, flash flooding can be a concern so it’s worth being aware of your surroundings. This trail is most safe to hike in June or September, when thunderstorms are less likely.

  • Angels Landing Hike

Angels Landing is a more challenging and adventurous hike. The trail follows a narrow rock fin that drops down to 1,000 feet on either side. This trail is not recommended for the faint-hearted. You can watch videos of people hiking it on Youtube if you’re interested in seeing it.

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There are many trails that can be done in this park, from easy to difficult to challenging and even places to go canyoneering. To cover the majority of the hikes, allow yourself two to three days when planning your visit. Zion is a refuge and sanctuary. You can easily get lost in the vast beauty of this place. There are many options for accommodation near Zion, whether you prefer to camp or stay in a hotel.