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.

Zion is a must-visit national park for adventure-seekers who enjoy hiking, biking, canyoneering and more!

Use our Zion National Park travel guide to know what to pack, where to stay and what to expect when visiting this park. Create your daily itinerary with this list of exciting activities you can do at Zion National Park.

10 zion national park activities
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Activities To Do At Zion National Park

Here’s a list of things to do at Zion National Park for those who enjoy the outdoors!

Hiking

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.

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.

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.

Bicycling

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

Canyoneering

Zion National Park is a world-famous location for canyoneering that involves 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 canyoneering tour!

Horseback Riding

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 guidelines for riding your own horse into the park.

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.

There are many sunrise and sunset photo spots at Zion 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 at sunrise
  • Zion-Mt. Carmel Scenic Highway
  • The Three Patriarchs
  • Riverwalk along the Virgin River
  • Views from Angel’s Landing and Observation Point
  • Pa’rus Trail at sunset (great time for wildlife as well)
  • The Watchman with the Virgin River near sunset
  • Kolob Terrace
  • Kolob Canyons

Also check out the scenery along all four Zion National Park scenic drives!

take jaw-dropping photos at Zion National Park

Stargazing

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!

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 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.

Zion National Park along Highway 9

Camping 

Zion National Park has three campgrounds:

  • 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!

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.

More Zion Activities:

BUY AT AMAZON: Zion National Park Guides and Maps

Zion national park guides and maps

Where to Stay Near Zion National Park

You definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to Zion.

  • 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. 

Resources for camping near Zion:

Plan Your Vacation To Zion National Park

Things To Do Near Zion

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