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What We Learned About Visiting Zion National Park

When we are craving adventure, we will often embark on an overland trip in our Jeep, this spring, we decided to find a new kind of adventure. Our family left the Jeep behind and explored the areas of Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Pink Sand Dunes.

If you are an overlander, the proximity of Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon to amazing off-road adventure destinations like the North Rim of the Grand Canyon makes this a great choice to take a break from exploring trails in your Jeep to explore national monuments by foot, or bike.

Read on for some pro tips from our most recent visit.

Zion National Park Sign

1. We stayed in an air-bnb near the east entrance of the park. This provided easy access to the "quiet side" of Zion National Park, as well as offering convenient access to other parks and landmarks you might want to visit such as Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This side is also a little higher in elevation, resulting in cooler temps.

2. If you aren't the waiting-in-line type, you can walk right in without waiting for a shuttle. Once you pass the park entrance in Zion Canyon Village, it's a short walk to the Pa/Rus Trail, which follows the Virgin River. If you want to ride the shuttle, mornings are the busiest times, while afternoons are shorter. If you take the shuttle, some drivers play recordings pointing out interesting facts. Be warned though, do not miss the last shuttle out of the park, and it is a nine-mile walk back to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.

3. You can hike the lower part of Angels Landing without a permit. If you want to hike the upper parts, you do need a permit. This is a strenuous trail that is not recommended for children.

4. The most popular trails in Zion National Park are: Angels Landing, Emerald Pools Trail, The Narrows, Zion Canyon Overlook, The Watchman. These are beautiful and iconic hikes, and depending on seasonality, they can also be the most crowded.

5. Less Crowded trails? Kolob Canyons where you can see the Kolob Arch - the world's largest free-standing natural arch, The Watchman Trail, Timber Creek, Taylor Creek,

ATV's at Pink Sand Dunes

6. You can rent e-bikes for the day and bike into the park and explore. This is a really fun way to see a lot of the park. Other non-hiking adventures include horseback riding, atv trails, guided photography tours, and other adventurous tours like rapelling.

7. Before you go, take time to research and plan your time of year, and where you want to go. Some parts of the park are more prone to cold, flooding, or heat, depending on when you go. The Narrows trail can reach 115* in the summer heat. While winters can be cold, wet, or snowy with highs of 50-60 during the day and below freezing at night. One perk of visiting Zion in the winter is that Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is open to vehicles. Other times, you are required to take the shuttle.

Whatever you do, you are sure to have a unique adventure. Covid changed the way people adventure more than any event I can remember. As indoor venues shuttered their doors or struggled with restrictions, more and more people started exploring our national landmarks, parks, and attractions. Often making the visits unpredictable and crowded. Thankfully, park conditions and systems have improved greatly, and with a little planning, there are still plenty of tricks to make sure your trip is enjoyable while avoiding crowds.


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