- Clear sky chart to determine the best day and time for astronomical viewing: https://www.cleardarksky.com/csk/prov/Utah_charts.html
- Flash flood potential: https://www.weather.gov/slc/flashflood
- National Weather Service extended forecast: https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?site=slc&textField1=37.2098&textField2=-112.9774&smap=1#.YOOFy-ROKEc
- Shuttle Information: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/zion-canyon-shuttle-system.htm.
Shuttle and Parking Information
- Private vehicles are not permitted on the Zion Scenic Drive. To visit Zion National Park visitors are required to utilize the shuttle. The first shuttle arrives at the Zion National Park Visitor Center and Store at 6:00am and shuttles continue arriving about every 10 minutes. The 2 car shuttle seats 66 people total.
- Get in line for the shuttle early. To be on the first shuttle leaving the Zion National Park Visitor Center and Store plan on being in line for the shuttle by 4:45am on a holiday weekend. Getting in line at 5:30am we boarded the 7th shuttle around 6:30am.
- Nearby parking lots fill up early, but if you arrive early to board one of the first shuttles parking should still be available. There is a flat daily rate of $30 per car for the closest Springdale parking lot. Here are walking directions from Springdale parking to the Zion Pedestrian Entrance. If the parking lots near the Zion Pedestrian Entrance are full, there are additional parking lots throughout Springdale with shuttle services to Zion National Park Visitor Center and Store (this shuttle is not the same shuttle used throughout the park).
- There are 2 waiting areas at the shuttle stops in Zion National Park: one for shuttles heading to Zion Lodge/Zion National Park Visitor Center and Store to exit the park, and one heading to Temple of Sinawava, The Narrows. Confirm the direction of the shuttle before boarding.
- The Zion National Park Visitor Center and Store opens at 8:00am. We arrived at 5:30am and weren’t required to pay an entrance fee to visit the park.
- There are water bottle refill stations through the park and noted on the map.
Traveling Gingerbread Tip: Springdale hotels were extremely limited and expensive booking a month in advance, so we chose a hotel in Hurricane. It was much more affordable, less crowded, and only 30 minutes from the Zion Pedestrian Entrance.
The Most Popular Hikes
The Narrows via Riverside Walk
- The Narrows (Bottom Up) hike allows hikers to experience the narrows up to 9.4 miles round trip without a permit. The Narrows (Top Down) is a 16 mile one way hike requiring a permit. Hikers are responsible for checking current conditions, weather, water levels, and flash flood potential before beginning the hike. There are no bathrooms in The Narrows and there aren’t bushes to hide behind, spur trails, or nooks to offer privacy in the canyon. If you must go number 2 remember pack it in, pack it out.
- Exit at shuttle stop 9: Temple of Sinawava to access The Narrows (Bottom Top) via the Riverside Walk. The 1 mile paved Riverside Walk ends at the Virgin River, the Gateway to The Narrows. The Narrows hike is rated strenuous. It took a lot of concentration to find solid footing and trekking pole placement hiking through the rocky river. While a lot of this hike is spent looking down at the rocks, take time to stop and admire the canyon towering above.
- Soon after entering Gateway to The Narrows we reached The Lower Narrows. Visiting during a drought in July during the deepest water was about pocket level, but most of the river was about knee deep. We highly recommend renting or bringing trekking poles and water shoes for this hike to help navigate through the water.
- Water boots and a trekking stick can be rented just outside Zion Pedestrian Entrance. We overheard the price was about $30 per person. We brought our own water shoes and trekking poles. Although our water shoes didn’t have the ankle stability of water boots, we felt having 2 trekking poles was more beneficial.
- Before reaching 2 miles (including the 1 mile Riverside Walk) is House Rock (pictured left), and Mystery Canyon Falls (pictured right), a 110 foot waterfall. There are no mile markers or trail signs along The Narrows.
- About .5 miles later we reached a Y in the Virgin River: Orderville Junction and the beginning of Wall Street. Here 1,500 feet high canyon walls tower above the 22 feet wide Virgin River. We explored a short distance in each direction before turning around.
- At the Y hikers can continue 1 mile towards Orderville Canyon to reach Veiled Falls (anyone without a permit is required to turn around here) or continue left to Floating Rock (3 miles including the Riverside Walk), Hiccup Spring, the end of Wall Street around 4 miles (including the Riverside Walk), and nearing mile 5 (including the Riverside Walk) at Big Springs anyone without a permit is required to turn around.
- We arrived at Temple of Sinawava on the first shuttle and began hiking the Riverside Walk at 6:30am. After turning around near Orderville Junction, our hike back through The Narrows was much more difficult. We had to maneuver through a crowded river of 2 way traffic, the cloudy water made it harder to find solid footing, and trails along the river were muddy and slippery.
Traveling Gingerbread Note: This was our favorite and most unique hike we’ve done. If you’re planning to visit Zion National Park and hike The Narrows and Angels Landing, we recommend visiting 2 days if possible. Both hikes get extremely crowded quickly and early. We started our first day hiking Angels Landing and our second day hiking The Narrows. We had the trail to ourselves at times during both hikes.
- Angels Landing is a 5.4 miles round trip hike rated strenuous. We highly recommend shoes with good traction for this hike. We encountered a couple hikers unable to complete the final 1.1 mile because of inadequate footwear causing them to slip before the steepest and most dangerous part of the trail.
- To access Angels Landing trailhead exit at shuttle stop 6: the Grotto. The start of the trail is across the road from the shuttle stop at a pedestrian bridge. We reached the trailhead at 6:45am and waited in line about 15 minutes to begin our hike.
Traveling Gingerbread Note: Above was the line to Angles Landing trailhead Sunday at 10:00am on a holiday weekend. Hikers going to the Kayenta Trail towards Emerald Pools weren’t required to wait in line, but don’t try to skip the line! Our hands were stamped as we began the hike and we had to show the stamp at Scouts Lookout to access the remaining 1.1 mile hike to Angels Landing.
- We felt the most beautiful views were along the beginning of the trail. If you have a fear of heights, we recommend hiking part of the trail for an elevated view of the canyon and turning around before reaching Walter’s Wiggles, a series of steep switchbacks.
- At Scout’s Landing we waited another 40 minutes before hiking the final and steepest 1.1 miles to Angels Landing. Scouts Landing has bathrooms and an area to rest or fuel up while waiting to continue the hike.
- This part of the trail is more than 1,400 feet above the canyon along a cliff and is the most challenging and unnerving. We aren’t afraid of heights, but this portion of the hike gave us butterflies. The narrow one way trail is difficult to navigate against the 2 way flow of hikers and requires letting go of the chain to pass. On our return trip we waited for a break in traffic, hiked until we encountered another group, and looked for a tree to hold allowing other hikers to pass using the chain. When there was another break we returned to the chain and continued our descend.
- Rather than crossing the pedestrian bridge and returning to the Grottos from Angels Landing, continue onto Kayenta Trail to Lower Emerald Pool to hike behind a waterfall. From here, continue .6 miles to Zion Lodge, shuttle stop number 5, or return to the Grottos.
- Visiting during the dry season in July the waterfall had receded to a small trickle, but the mist felt great in the summer heat. Upper and Middle Emerald Pools are also accessible from the Kayenta Trail.
Traveling Gingerbread Note: After a morning of hiking, we recommend having lunch at Zion Brew Pub just outside the Zion Pedestrian Entrance in Springdale. To enjoy a cold beer without food, enter the Zion Brew Pub and turn left into Zion Brewery. We recommend Burnt Mountain Brown, a brown ale with flavors of dried fruits and pecans.
- The Kolob Canyons are in the Northwest corner of Zion National Park. Take exit 40 off US Route 15 to Kolob Canyon Visitor Center. The 5 mile Kolob Canyons Road scenic drive begins through the canyons ending at Kolob Canyons Viewpoint (video above)/Timber Creek Overlook Trail.