Seek the Peak

The sensation to explore is insatiable when surrounded by the giant sandstone monoliths of Zion National Park. These red rock cliffs tower over visitors at the canyon floor, humbling a person with their enormity. They challenge the curious to hike to breathtaking peaks for a chance to feel on top of the world and reward the courageous with unbelievable views. Thrillseekers from across the globe flock to Zion for this opportunity.
Established as a national park in 1919, Zion is a southern Utah treasure that now draws more than 2 million visitors annually. The park lies just outside of Springdale, Utah, where guests will find lodging, dining and shopping.

LODGING
The only accommodation within the park is Zion Lodge, which offers 82 hotel rooms and suites and 40 cabins. There is a grill at the lodge currently offering takeout, as well as a nice gift shop on property with all manner of souvenirs — jewelry, clothing, picture frames, agate slices, prickly pear jelly, pins, posters and much more. If you forgot a necessity for your day in the park they also have chapstick, snacks, hats, neck gaiters, walking sticks and anything else you may need on the trails.
Additionally, Watchman Campground at the south entrance of the park is open. Reservations are required to secure a campsite — call 877-444-6777.

SHUTTLES
As March marks the beginning of the regular season within the park, visitors are required to use the shuttle system. Private vehicles are not allowed down the Scenic Drive within the park.
There are two different shuttle systems — the first operates in the town of Springdale and delivers guests to the park entrance. This town shuttle is free, and is usually the best option for getting to the park. The sole parking lot for private vehicles at the Visitor Center fills up very quickly in the morning so if you try to drive yourself to the park you may not get a spot. Visit www.nps.gov/zion to find a map of shuttle stops in Springdale.
The second shuttle operates within the park, taking guests from the Visitor Center up the Scenic Drive and making stops at the various trailheads. The first shuttle takes off at 7 a.m. and the last at 7:15 p.m. Masks are required on the shuttles.
There is a fee of $20 per person to enter the park, which does not include the shuttle ticket fee.
Guests need to secure a spot on these shuttles before arriving by booking a time slot at recreation.gov. The cost is $1 per person to book a ticket. Advance tickets are released twice a month, on the 16th and the last day of the month. Additional tickets will be released the day before your intended visit at 5 p.m.

TRAILS
Hiking is the main activity in Zion, with many trails ranging from easy to difficult, so all abilities can find a suitable hike. Don’t like heights? No problem. Zion is beautiful from the canyon floor looking up. Want a daring adventure? There are exhilarating routes to the mountain peaks as well. Some of the popular trails are listed below, but be sure to visit the website at www.nps.gov/zion before planning a trip to check trail closures.

Lower Emerald Pool Trail – Easy
Get off at shuttle stop 5 at Zion Lodge to begin this hike at the trailhead across the road from the lodge. Restrooms and water filling stations are available at the Zion Lodge. Roundtrip, the hike is 1.2 miles and takes about 1 hour. A paved trail leads to the Lower Emerald Pool where you will find a couple of small waterfalls — here the trail can be wet and slippery but there is a railing. Swimming is prohibited in the Emerald Pools.

Riverside Walk – Easy
Get off at shuttle stop 9, Temple of Sinawava, to start the walk. Restrooms and a water refill station are available at the trailhead. This trail is 2.2 miles roundtrip and takes about 1.5 hours. The paved trail follows the Virgin River along the bottom of a narrow canyon and ends at the access point to begin the bottom-up Narrows route (see below).

Middle Emerald Pools Trails – Moderate
Get off at shuttle stop 5 at Zion Lodge to begin this hike at the trailhead across the road from the lodge. This is a continuation of the Lower Emerald Pools hike, totaling 2.2 miles or 1.5 hours. This add-on includes an unpaved climb to a sandstone ledge that parallels the lower trail, but at a higher level. It connects to the other Emerald Pools trails and the Kayenta Trail.

Kayenta Trail – Moderate
Get off at shuttle stop 6, the Grotto, to begin this hike at the trailhead across the street from the shuttle stop and then across the footbridge. The distance is 2 miles roundtrip, taking about 1.5 hours. This is an unpaved alternate route to the Emerald Pools trails. From the end of the Kayenta Trail, you may continue to the Upper Emerald Pools, adding another mile to the trip. This trail is a sandy and rocky climb to the Upper Emerald Pool at the base of a cliff. Restrooms and water filling stations are available at the Grotto.

Angels Landing via West Rim Trail – Strenuous
Get off at shuttle stop 6, the Grotto, to begin this hike at the trailhead across the street from the shuttle stop and then across the footbridge. This is the most notorious hike within the park, leading to a stunning viewpoint that lives up to the trail’s name. This 5.4 mile-roundtrip hike takes about 4 hours and includes long drop-offs. The last section is a route along a steep, narrow ridge to the summit, which is only 2 feet wide in some spots with a drop off on either side. It is not suitable for young children or anyone fearful of heights, however you may choose to turn back on the West Rim Trail before finishing the last stretch to Angel’s Landing.

The Narrows via Riverside Walk – Strenuous
Get off at shuttle stop 9, Temple of Sinawava, and proceed to the end of the Riverwalk Trail to begin the Narrows. This is the other trail that Zion is famous for, with the name coming from the narrow distance between the canyon walls. This hike can be up to 9.4 miles roundtrip, but you can turn back whenever you please. This route is known as the bottom-up Narrows and does not require a permit. Upstream travel beyond Big Spring or in Orderville Canyon is prohibited. At least 60% of the hike is spent wading, walking, and sometimes swimming in the river. Travel is rough and slippery in cold, fast flowing water and high water levels can prevent access.

ACTIVITIES
If you’re looking to further immerse yourself in nature, rockclimbing, cycling and kayaking are also allowed in the park. Bicycling is permitted on all park roadways and on the Pa’rus Trail. Permits are not required for day climbing, but all watercraft use in the park requires a wilderness permit.
Outside of the park, there are more trails and viewpoints. Drive the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway for a winding mountain adventure to the Mt. Carmel Tunnel. Finished in 1930, it was one of the greatest engineering feats of modern times, with the construction of a 5,613-foot tunnel through the vertical sandstone cliffs with “windows” cut out to see through to the other side of the canyon. The shuttle does not take you through the tunnel, visitors must drive themselves. Oversize vehicles, such as trailers, must pay a fee to pass through the tunnel, as they require traffic control.
Immediately after exiting the tunnel is the trailhead for another popular hike, Canyon Overlook. Continue driving down Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway for more scenic views and to connect to the East Entrance of Zion, as well as Highway 89 to Bryce Canyon National Park.