Fun Outdoor Zion National Park Activities

If you love the outdoors, you’ll find a variety of Zion National Park activities to help you explore this amazing park in southern Utah. This Zion National Park travel guide includes the best activities to do at the park as well as tips for what to pack, where to stay and more!

Living only a few hours away, we’ve had the opportunity to visit Zion National Park many times. The tips and activities we share are based on our experiences visiting the park throughout the years!

Zion National Park activities

Zion is an iconic national park in southwestern Utah that sits near the town of Springdale. You’ll enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, canyoneering, scenic drives, landscape photography, and more!

Here’s our list of all the things you should know before visiting Zion National Park: weather, packing list, lodging, and all the things to see, do and photograph.

Create your daily itinerary with this list of exciting activities you can do at Zion National Park. We’ve got some done-for-you Zion itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 days in the park:

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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!

Tips for Visiting Zion National Park

Zion National Park is the most visited Utah National Park so be prepared for crowds in the spring, summer, fall, and winter between Christmas and New Year’s.

During these times, Zion Canyon is only accessible by using the Zion National Park Shuttle, allowing you to conveniently access a myriad of Zion outdoor recreation activities.

There will be limited parking at Zion National Park and the town of Springdale so plan to start your day early to get a parking spot in town and a spot on the shuttle.

We recommend you take the first shuttle into Zion Canyon to access the hiking trails there early before the crowds start.

Another tip is to plan late afternoon hikes, but be sure you time it right so you don’t miss the last shuttle leaving the canyon, or it’s a LONG walk back to your car!

We feel winter is the best time to visit Zion National Park to avoid the crowds. But it will be cold and could be rainy or snowy.

If you prefer more moderate weather at Zion National Park then spring and fall are the best times to go. Summer will be VERY HOT at Zion!

Zion National Park Activities

Zion National Park, a natural wonderland in the heart of Utah, is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. The park offers an array of activities that promise adventure and exploration.

Whether it’s hiking the challenging trails, rock-climbing the sandstone cliffs, or simply photographing the park’s stunning vistas along the scenic drives, Zion National Park provides a one-of-a-kind experience for nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike.

Ranger-Led Activities at Zion

Free ranger-led programs are offered at Zion National Park between mid-April and mid-October. Programs are designed to help visitors understand and appreciate the park more, and cover a range of topics like geology, botany, wildlife, and human history.

If you’re visiting Zion National Park with kids, be sure to check out the Junior Ranger Program!

Ranger-led Activities at Zion include programs for adult, youth and families with children. There are a variety of ranger-led activities like 2-mile hikes, 30 minute talks at the Zion Human History Museum, evening lectures, ride with a ranger shuttle tours, 45-minute youth programs at the nature center, and nature center drop-in programs.

Walters Wiggles on the Angel's Landing hiking trail at Zion
Walters Wiggles on the Angel’s Landing hiking trail at Zion

Hiking Activities at Zion National Park

Zion National Park hikes are some of the best, and most unique, in the world. Enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences like sloshing through the Virgin River in the Narrows or braving exposed cliffs on Angel’s Landing (Angels Landing permits are required year-round.).

There are a variety of easy and moderate day hikes in Zion to choose from as well. If you’ll be visiting during the busy season, check out all the Zion hikes without the shuttle to avoid the crowds.

If you’re up for more strenuous hikes and backpacking trails, Zion has many for you to explore the more remote wilderness areas. Many of these trails require a permit so plan ahead.

To avoid the crowds, we love winter hiking in Zion National Park. Yes, it’s cold and trails could be snow-covered or icy, but it’s such a unique experience to see Zion with snow!

Biking near Zion National Park

Bicycling Activities at Zion

Riding a bike at Zion is a great way to explore the park and avoid the shuttle. 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.

Subway canyoneering trail at Zion National Park
The Subway canyoneering trail

Canyoneering Activities at Zion

World-famous Zion canyoneering hikes involve route finding, rappelling, hiking, and swimming. There are plenty of unique canyons to explore in Zion to accommodate all levels of canyoneering skill.

The two famous trails that require technical canyoneering skill are The Subway and The Narrows from the top-down. Both hikes require a permit, and all overnight trips in these areas also require a permit.

If you’re new to this outdoor activity, try a Zion National Park canyoneering tour!

Canyon Overlook at sunrise at Zion
Canyon Overlook at sunrise at Zion

Photography Activities at Zion

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.

We got a few best photo spots for sunrise at Zion National Park where you’ll catch the reflected light on the canyon walls:

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

There are more Zion National Park photo spots we recommend for afternoon and sunset:

  • Pa’rus Trail
  • The Watchman with the Virgin River
  • Kolob Terrace
  • Kolob Canyons

Stargazing Activities 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!

Zion National Park in the winter Highway 9
Highway 9 scenic drive in the winter

Scenic Drive Activities at Zion

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 numerous spots where you can pull off the road to take pictures or enjoy a short hike.

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.

We recommend the Zion & Bryce Canyon GuideAlong App to hear fun behind-the scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location.

Guided Tours at Zion National Park

Whether you’re looking for a half-day or full-day excursion, there are plenty of Zion National Park tours available to fit your needs: guided hikes, canyoneering, photography, and off-road experiences!

RV camping at Zion National Park
RV camping at Zion National Park

Camping Activities at Zion

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!

All campsites 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 options for winter camping in Zion National Park are a bit limited since only one campground is open.

If you can’t find a camp site in the park, there are a variety of RV parks near Zion National Park.

You might also enjoy the fun options for glamping Near Zion National Park in luxury tents, covered wagons, and tipis!


Zion national park guides and maps

Things To Do Near Zion National Park

Zion National Park Packing List

Use our Zion National Park Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in any time of year! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

get the free Zion National Park packing lists

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