Zion Hikes Without the Shuttle

If you’re looking for Zion hikes without the shuttle, check out this list!

Use our Zion National Park travel guide and the tips below for a list of things you can do on your own schedule away from the shuttle crowds!

There are amazing Zion hikes to be found in all these parts of the park: Zion Canyon, Kolob Terrace, Kolob Canyon and along Highway 9.

It’s important to know that the most-visited part of Zion National Park is Zion Canyon. For the majority of the year, the only way to access this part of Zion is by using the shuttle system.

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HIKING GEAR FOR ZION NATIONAL PARK

To make your hiking adventures as successful as possible, it’s essential to be prepared for the trails you’ll encounter when hiking in Zion.

1. Hiking Shoes – Wear sturdy shoes with enough tread to give you good traction. Do not hike in smooth-soled shoes or boots. Some trails cover uneven terrain and follow rock ledges. Sandals and sneakers are NOT safe hiking footwear. → Check out our hiking shoes!

2. Darn Tough Socks – Seriously, these are the BEST socks ever. They help prevent blisters, keep your feet dry, and last forever.  → Check out our favorite socks!

3. Water – Always carry water with you during all hiking activities. → Check out our hydration packs and hydroflask bottles we carry in our camera backpack.

During the summer, the weather at Zion is hot with low humidity, and the sun is intense. Avoid hiking in the middle of the day. Save strenuous activity for early mornings or evenings. 

Plastic water bottles are not sold in the park, but reusable bottles are available for purchase in the gift shops located in the Visitor Center, Museum, and Zion Lodge. Water refilling stations are located throughout the main canyon in the following areas:

  • Visitor Center – shuttle stop 1
  • Zion Human History Museum – shuttle stop 2
  • Zion Lodge – shuttle stop 5
  • The Grotto – shuttle stop 6
  • Temple of Sinawava – shuttle stop 9

Reusable bottles and a water station are also available at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center.

Remember it’s just as easy to become dehydrated in the cold as it is in the heat so carry plenty of water during the winter, and not just during the summer.

4. Snacks:  Pack healthy snacks. It’s just as important to give your body food energy as it is to drink water.   → Check out the healthy snacks we pack.

5. Sun Protection – Sunburns lead to dehydration. Wear a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses to protect from the sun overhead and reflected UV light.

Utah’s high elevation and dry air can be hard on your skin so we always carry lip balm with sunscreen and hydrating lotion to apply as needed when we’re out exploring the trails.

Clothing to Wear When Hiking in Zion

Summer at Zion National Park means high temperatures, unrelenting sunlight, and low humidity. To keep cool, wear light colored, loose fitting clothing that does not absorb sunlight.

During the winter, be sure to wear the right cold weather clothing to stay dry and warm.

National Parks Pass

Before you visit Zion Canyon National Park be sure to pack your The America the Beautiful Annual Pass.

Other items we recommend you pack for visiting Zion:

Be aware of all potential hazards you could experience at Zion National Park.

ZION HIKES WITHOUT THE SHUTTLE

All Zion National Park hikes are terrific ways to explore the park! Most people focus on the popular hikes found in Zion Canyon.

But there are other areas in Zion that don’t require using the shuttle. Check out the Zion National Park scenic drives you can access year-round with your vehicle. Every route has amazing hiking trails to explore.

Here’s our list of Zion hikes without the shuttle!

Pa’rus Trail 

Hike length: 1.7 miles one way

Time Required: 1-2 hours 

Hike difficulty: Easy 

Trailhead Location: Zion Visitor Center/South Campground, Zion Museum, and Canyon Junction

One of the most accessible trails in Zion Canyon is the Pa’rus Trail. It’s the only hike in Zion that allows pets and bicycles. Enjoy the scenery as you walk near the river and cross over bridges. It’s not surprising to see mule deer grazing making this trail more exciting.

Highlights: 

  • Wonderful location to see the reflected light on the “Watchman” at sunset.
  • There is not much shade on this trail.

Watchman Trail

Hike length: 3 miles round trip

Time Required: 1-2 hours 

Hike difficulty: Moderate 

Trailhead Location: Zion Visitor Center (trailhead along the road on the east bank of the Virgin River) 

The Watchman Trail is relatively short, starting in between the Visitor Center and the Campground, leading to a spectacular viewpoint 300-feet above the canyon’s floor. From there, you will enjoy a view of the entire Visitor Center from a bird’s eye perspective. 

This trail is suitable for children, but there are a few cliff edges where you’ll need to watch them.

Highlights: 

  • No view to speak of except overlooking the Visitor Center
  • Short hike that’s usually not crowded

Canyon Overlook Trail

Hike length: 1 mile round trip

Time Required: 30 minutes-hour 

Hike difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Trailhead Location: Canyon Overlook Trailhead/parking lot (just to the east of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel on Route 9)

The Canyon Overlook Trail is an easy and short family hike. There is one section of the trail that can be considered “moderate” due to a few exposed spots with steep drop-offs where you’ll want to watch the kids.

Enjoy the magnificent view at the end of the trail!

Highlights:

  • Terrific location to watch the reflected light on the far canyon walls at sunrise.
  • This trail gets busy and the parking lot is small so plan to do it early!

Taylor Creek Trail

Hike length: 2.2 miles to the Double Arch Alcove (one-way)

Time Required: 3-5 hours

Hike difficulty: Easy

Trailhead Location: 2.1 miles up the Kolob Canyons Road in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park. 

The Taylor Creek Trail is a 5-file round trip trail that is relatively easy and family friendly. Along the trail you’ll see two historical cabins: the Larson Cabin and the Fire Cabin. These historical cabins originated in the 1930s. 

At the end of the hike you’ll see the Double Arch Alcove, a cave-like formation with undercut sandstone and water seeping through colored rocks.

Highlights:

  • There are no scenic views to photograph on this trail, but the cabins and alcove make up for that.
  •  The trail is a bit overgrown, but well worth the hike!

Timber Creek Overlook Trail

Hike length: 1 mile round trip

Time Required: 20 minutes to 1 hour 

Hike difficulty: Easy

Trailhead Location: The end of the Kolob Canyons Road (in the Kolob Section of Zion National Park)

The Timber Creek Overlook Trail is a short hike that leads to astonishing views from above the ridgeline.

The trail is sandy and has some loose rocks with a gradual ascent of 150 feet to reach the viewpoint. There you’ll see the Shuntavia Butte beyond the valley. 

Highlights:

  • Late afternoon and sunset light really make the view glow with that reflected light that’s so beautiful!
  • Nice family friendly hike.

Check out our list of the BEST Zion National Park hikes that include those found in Zion Canyon that will require using the shuttle when it’s in service.

TAKE NOTE: Angels Landing pilot program begins April 1, 2022

On and after April 1, 2022, hikers going to Angels Landing will need a permit. The National Park Service (NPS) will issue permits using online lotteries at Recreation.gov.

Visitors can get a permit by entering seasonal lotteries or a different lottery the day before their planned hikes. It will cost $6 to enter any of the lotteries and successful permit holders will pay a $3 per person fee. These funds will cover costs to manage the lotteries and for additional NPS rangers who will assist visitors and check permits on the trail. Learn when and how to enter the lotteries at go.nps.gov/AngelsLanding.

Plan Your Zion Vacation

Where to Stay Near Zion

You definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to Zion. Here are a few of our favorite places to stay at to Zion National Park:

  • Holiday Inn Express – our favorite place to stay with an outdoor pool and amenities you’d find in a high end hotel
  • Zion Lodge – we haven’t had a chance to stay here yet, but you can’t go wrong staying right IN the park!
  • Under Canvas Zion – if you want to experience a less crowded part of Zion, this is the place! It’s in the Kolob section of the park.
  • Vacation Rentals in Springdale – you’ll want to stay in Springdale so you’re close to the park entrance and can walk to shopping and restaurants. 
  • Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!
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