Things to Do in Zion National Park Besides Hiking

Visiting Zion National Park is an unforgettable experience. From the majestic sandstone cliffs to the winding canyons, the park offers a variety of breathtaking views and activities for all ages.

If you love the outdoors, you’ll find a variety of things to do in Zion National Park besides hiking like scenic drives, biking, and photography!

Use this Zion National Park travel guide to know what to pack, where to stay and what to expect when visiting this park.

Zion National Park activities that aren't hiking

With its unique landscape and diverse wildlife, Zion is sure to leave you with lasting memories that will last a lifetime.

Plan your daily schedule with this list of activities you can do at Zion National Park. Here are some helpful done-for-you Zion itineraries to plan your vacation:

Plus grab the FREE Zion Travel Bundle Printable below1

zion NP travel bundle optin
Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Read the full Disclosure Policy.

A Photo Tour of Zion National Park

Take a visual tour through Zion National Park to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!

What to Expect When Visiting Zion National Park

Located in the Southwest of Utah, near the towns of Kanab, St. George, and Cedar City, a trip to Zion national park is a truly amazing experience that is not to be missed by anyone who loves the outdoors.

Zion National Park should be on your bucket list. The landscape includes narrow sandstone canyons, high plateaus with spectacular views, and the Virgin River as it flows through the park.

The hiking trails at Zion are world-famous and fun to explore. But there are so many other activities besides hiking that you can do to enjoy this stunning park!

Zion Operating Hours and Entry Fees

Zion National Park is open to visitors twenty-four hours day, every day of the year. You will want to check the website because some services and facilities do close or reduce hours during parts of the year.

If you plan on visiting other Utah National Parks like nearby Bryce Canyon, or any other US National Park during the year, we always recommend getting the US National Park pass. (Did you know when you buy the National Parks Pass from REI, they donate 10% to the National Park Foundation?)

Zion Shuttle and Parking

It’s important to know all the rules and regulations for parking at Zion National Park! Visitors can park only in designated parking spaces and should avoid parking along roadways, on vegetation, and in a way that blocks traffic. If a parking lot is full, do not wait for a spot to open up. Instead, move on and look for parking elsewhere. Anyone who fails to park in designated spots will be subject to a fine and may have their vehicle towed.

You can also park in Springdale, just outside the park entrance. Use the free shuttle that takes you to Zion. Be aware though that you must pay for parking in Springdale and that a park entrance pass does not include town parking, and vice versa.

The Zion National Park Shuttle begins operations during the weekends starting mid-February. Around the first part of March, the shuttle runs daily between Zion Canyon and the town of Springdale. While the shuttle is in operation, no vehicles are permitted on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The shuttle also runs during the Christmas holiday so check the website if you’ll be visiting Zion during that time.

Throughout the high season, buses run from the early morning and into the late evening, with departures about every seven minutes. There are two separate shuttle routes that guests can take when visiting Zion National Park. The Zion Canyon Shuttle connects the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to nine different stops along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The Springdale Shuttle has nine stops in the town of Springdale and will take you to the pedestrian entrance near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.

When the shuttle service is not in use, Zion National Park can still experience overcrowding. When this happens, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive will close to the public once all parking lots are full. Therefore, be prepared and make alternative arrangements if you’re planning a Zion itinerary between December and February.

Canyon Overlook at sunrise at Zion
Canyon Overlook at sunrise

Best Time to Visit Zion National Park

If you’re wondering about the best Time to Visit Zion National Park, below you’ll find specific information about what it’s like at different seasons and months of the year to help you decide.

You’ll also find links to different articles we’ve written about each season or month specifically: Zion National Park weather, services, and things to do that time of year.

Spring Weather at Zion varies quite a bit from month to month. It’s important to pack for all types of weather because you never know when the weather will change.

It is not unusual to get rain or even snowfall in March. We recommend you watch the weather and pack a winter coatwinter hat, and winter gloves when going to Zion in early spring. A fleece jacket, hat, and gloves should be fine later in the spring.

Spring is a busy time so you’ll need to use the Zion National Park shuttle system!

Summer Weather at Zion will be HOT HOT HOT! Since the temperatures are brutal this time of year, plan your outdoor activities for the cooler mornings and evenings!

With the hot temperatures during the summer months, you’ll want to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a sun hatsunscreen and sunglasses. It’s important to stay hydrated and carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack.

Summer is a great time to enjoy the AC as you explore the three Zion National Park scenic drives where you can drive private vehicles and avoid using the shuttle.

Monsoon season at Zion is late summer through early fall. Be aware of potential flash floods at Zion: sudden increase in the depth and speed of water in rivers, streams, or washes due to heavy rain from thunderstorms. These flood waters carry large debris like tree trunks and boulders. When it rains at Zion, you’re in for a treat to see the pop-up waterfalls around the park!

Fall Weather at Zion starts to cool down making it a great time to explore the park because it will be cooler in the mornings and evenings, and the daytime temperatures aren’t too hot compared to the summer.

With the cooler temperatures at night, you will definitely want to bring a fleece jacketwarm hat and gloves for the nights and early mornings. 

Fall is a nice time to be in the park on a sunny day when the air isn’t stifling! The fall months are still busy so the shuttle will be in operation.

Winter Weather at Zion is when the temperatures really drop. It’s also the least busy season. We don’t mind the colder weather for enjoying outdoor activities, which makes the winter the best time for us to visit to escape the crowds!

BUT the cold winter weather may not be for everyone.

During the winter it is especially important to dress in layers. We recommend an insulted winter jacketfleece jacketwarm hat and gloves if you’ll be doing any outside activities. Here’s the full list of the outdoor winter clothing we use!

We enjoy Zion National Park photography in the winter – check out these awesome photographer gloves and rechargeable hand warmers we use!

Virgin River along the Pa'rus trail in the winter
Virgin River and the Watchman

Things to Do in Zion National Park Besides Hiking

Here’s a list of things to do at Zion National Park for those who enjoy the outdoors, but don’t want to hike!

Zion Visitor Centers

Zion National Park is open all year long, every day of the year. We always recommend a stop at the Visitor Center to see what programs are available when you are there. Check the website for the most current Zion facilities hours:

  • Zion Canyon Visitor Center
  • Zion Human History Museum
  • Zion Nature Center
  • Kolob Canyons Visitor Center

Zion Ranger-Led Activities

You’ll find a variety of Ranger-led programs at Zion:

  • Patio Talks
  • Ranger-led Walk
  • Watchman Evening Program
  • Junior Ranger Programs
  • Zion Nature Center
Zion National Park in the winter Highway 9
Highway 9 scenic drive

Zion Scenic Drives

There are four Zion National Park scenic drives to see and photograph the landscape in the park. The views you’ll see along each scenic drive is breathtaking!

Zion Canyon: When you’re planning your Zion National Park vacation, you’ll find that the Zion Canyon is the hub of the park. But most of the year, you’ll need to use the shuttle to access Zion Canyon.

Mt. Carmel Scenic Byway: This section of road through Zion National Park never closes, and you can drive your personal vehicle. There’s no shuttle bus along this route. Along the scenic drive from Springdale to the East Entrance, you’ll encounter two tunnels, switchbacks, slickrock and fantastic views. There are many things to do near Zion National Park accessed from the East.

Kolob Terrace Scenic Drive: This road starts near the town of Virgin. Because it’s a bit away from Zion Canyon and Mt. Carmel, it’s not as crowded. Kolob Terrace is a high plateau area towering above an open desert with amazing views of the colorful rocks famous at Zion.

The road is open all year, but if you’re visiting Zion National Park in the winter, be prepared for unpredictable weather in this area. Access to the upper part of the Kolob Terrace Road, including Lava Point, closes in the winter.

Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive: This section of the park is located 40 miles north of Zion Canyon at Exit 40 on I-15, about 17 miles south of Cedar City. The Kolob Canyon road is a five-mile drive that accesses the northwest corner of the park.

biking near Zion National Park
Biking near Zion National Park

Bicycling at Zion

Riding your bike is a great way to explore the park and avoid the shuttle. Bicycling at Zion is also a great alternative to riding the shuttle to access Zion Canyon. You can rent bicycles in Springdale.

Be aware of the rules for riding your bike at Zion:

  • Bicycling is permitted on the park roadways and the Pa’rus Trail. The areas closed to bikes: all other park trails, off-trail routes, and the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. 
  • Bikes must be ridden single file on the right side of the park roads and Pa’rus Trail. Due to the narrow park roads, there is a limit of 6 bicycles or less for every cycling group.
  • Wear your helmet.

Pay attention to the unexpected turns, frequent wildlife, and blind corners along the Pa’rus Trail. Cyclists must warn pedestrians before passing. All traffic rules and regulations must also be obeyed and observed. 

Zion makes it easy for cyclist with bike racks located at major shuttle stops and trailheads. You may also take your bicycle on the shuttle bus as long as you can get the bikes on and off the front racks by yourself.

Horseback riding near Zion
Horseback riding near Zion

Horseback Riding at Zion

Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon are the only two parks in Utah that offer horseback riding.

This fun activity will give you a view of Zion many don’t see as you ride through the iconic red canyons and cliffs of this park.

For those who have their own stock animals, read more about the Zion guidelines for riding your own horse into the park.

Photographer at Zion at sunrise
Photographing sunrise at Zion

Zion Photography

The Zion landscape is filled with amazing things to photograph: towering rock walls, the majestic Virgin River, intricate canyons, and views from above after a hike.

Here are some of the best photo spots for sunrise at Zion National Park to catch the reflected light on the canyon walls:

  • Towers of the Virgin on the Museum patio in the back
  • Canyon Overlook trail
  • Zion-Mt. Carmel Scenic Highway
  • The Three Patriarchs

We enjoy these spots for taking sunset photos at Zion:

  • Pa’rus Trail (great time for wildlife)
  • The Watchman with the Virgin River
  • Kolob Terrace
  • Kolob Canyons
hoodoo light trails at Zion National Park
Star light trails at Zion National Park

Stargazing at Zion

Remember to take time to enjoy the park after dark! The vast and dark sky in Zion National Park is something you have to see to believe!

If you’re there during a new moon (no moon in the sky) you might experience your first encounter with the Milky Way!

When stargazing at Zion, be sure to carry a flashlight or wear a headlamp with a red light. You don’t want to shine a white light into someone’s eyes!

It’s important at night to never stop or stand in the roadway. Always use pullouts and parking lots. This is a good safety tip in daylight or at night!

RV camping at Zion National Park
RV camping at Zion

Camping at Zion National Park

There are three campgrounds for camping in Zion National Park:

  • South Campground – Zion Canyon
  • Watchman Campground – Zion Canyon
  • Lava Point Campground – Kolob Terrace Road

These campgrounds are busy from March to November so be sure to plan ahead and make reservations to camp at Zion!

If you are interested in winter camping in Zion National Park, the Watchman Campground is the only one open. Always check the NPS website for the most current camping information and rates.

The two campsites in Zion Canyon (Watchman and South Campground) are drive-up and allow a maximum of two vehicles. Only one RV or trailer is allowed. Each campsite allows a maximum of six people and two tents. Hammocks are allowed but are limited to the footprint of the campsite.

There are flush toilets, cold running drinkable water, and trash containers, but no showers or electrical outlets. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire pit with attached grill.

The Lava Point Campground is the right location if you want to get away from the crowds and enjoy the Zion Wilderness area in the Kolob Terrace area.

It’s usually open May through September, depending on weather. Its high elevation is 7890 feet above sea level!

Lava Point is toward the end of the scenic Zion National Park scenic drive, Kolob Terrace. It’s 25 miles north of the town of Virgin, and takes about an hour and twenty minutes to drive there from Springdale.

You can find more camping options in and near the park:

BUY ZION GUIDES & MAPS AT AMAZON

Zion national park guides and maps

Plan Your Vacation To Zion National Park

Things To Do Near Zion National Park

There are even more activities and things to do near Zion National Park:

get the free Zion National Park packing lists

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *