Visiting Zion National Park in October

Zion in the fall is an amazing time to visit because the temperatures are “just right”!

If you’re considering a Zion National Park vacation to enjoy outdoor activities, then this time of year is the best!

Keep in mind it’s still a busy time of year so be prepared for the crowds.

Use this guide to know all about visiting Zion National Park in October: what to pack, where to stay, and what to see, do and photograph!

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WHAT TO PACK FOR ZION NATIONAL PARK

To get the most out of visiting this park, we want to help you know what to pack for Zion National Park.

Hiking Shoes & Socks

Avoid injuries from improper footwear when hiking. Don’t wear smooth-soled shoes and opt instead for the sturdy shoes with ample tread.

Hydration and Food

Southern Utah is a desert climate at high altitude. You should drink at least one gallon of water per day, and always carry water with you during all hiking activities (water is available at the Zion National Park Visitor Center and shuttle stops 1, 2, 5, 6 and 9).

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.

Lip Balm and Lotion

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

Summers in the park mean soaring temperatures, unrelenting sunlight, and low humidity. To keep cool, wear light colored, loose fitting clothing that does not absorb sunlight. Also avoid sun burn by wearing a wide brimmed hat and by generously applying sunscreen to any parts of your body that are exposed to the sun.

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

National Parks Pass

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

Yes, the National Park Pass is a good deal!

Other items we recommend for visiting Zion:

TOP REASON TO VISIT ZION IN OCTOBER

The best reason to visit Zion National Park in October: the weather!

Moderate temperatures in October are perfect for enjoying outdoor activities like hiking, biking, canyoneering and landscape photography.

If you want to take advantage of moderate temperatures all day long, then October is a great time to visit Zion!

BIGGEST DRAWBACK

Zion is the most-visited national park in Utah and it gets crowded during the peak seasons of spring, summer and fall.

You’ll need to use the shuttle to access Zion Canyon during the month of October. In the fall the shuttles start running a little less frequently and for less hours each day.

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!

Another tip is to explore the other areas of the park and enjoy all the Zion hikes without the shuttle.

Zion national park in the fall

VISITING ZION NATIONAL PARK IN OCTOBER

Does the Shuttle Run in October?

The park shuttle buses are the only way to access Zion Canyon during the month of October. Check the NPS website for the most current shuttle dates and information.

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles during the shuttle season. 

Weather at Zion in October

The days and nights will start getting cooler this time of year at Zion. In October the highs are usually around 66 degrees and the lows hover around 39 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Be prepared with a fleece jacket so you can get out early to enjoy the outdoor activities at the park to beat the crowds.  

What Services Are Available in October?

Zion National Park is open all year long. It is open every day of the year. 

The shuttle system runs during the month of October, check the website for the hours of operation.

Check the website for the most current facilities hours:

  • Zion Canyon Visitor Center
  • Park Store
  • Zion Canyon Wilderness Desk
  • Zion Human History Museum
  • Zion Nature Center
  • Kolob Canyons Visitor Center

Zion campgrounds are usually full every night during October. Plan ahead to find the best places to stay in Zion National Park.

Can you drive through Zion National Park in October?

Vehicles are not allowed in Zion Canyon during the month of October. You’ll need to use the shuttle system.

You can drive the other three Zion scenic drives in the park: Mt. Carmel Scenic Byway, Kolob Terrace and Kolob Canyons.

There are several roadside stops along the routes for you to explore Zion on foot or by bike.

Exploring the other areas of Zion is a great way to escape the crowds you’ll find in Zion Canyon.

Zion scenic drives

SCENIC DRIVES IN OCTOBER

While visiting Zion in the fall you are able to drive three of the four scenic drives. In October you should find fall leaves turning color to accent the amazing landscape in the park.

The Zion Canyon road is only accessible via the shuttle. It’s an amazing 6.5 miles of the most incredible rock formations and hiking trails.

The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel is a must-drive! The tunnel is 1.1 miles long and the elevation gain is 800 feet. Driving along Highway 9 from Zion Canyon to the east entrance is breathtaking. Take advantage of the pullouts to stop and take photos, or even take a hike.

We enjoy driving the Kolob Terrace road that’s accessed west of Springdale in the town of Virgin. You’ll see a different side of Zion there.

And if you don’t mind driving 40 miles north of Zion Canyon, you can drive the Kolob Canyons section of the park.

HIKING IN OCTOBER

Hiking at Zion in October is the best! It’s quite different from summer when you’re sweating and worrying about heat exhaustion.

The temperatures are “just right” during the day, and pleasantly cool in the mornings and evenings.

Remember there are Zion hikes without the shuttle if you don’t want to battle the crowds!

Be sure to check whether permits are required for any of the hiking trails you want to explore.

Zion in the fall Watchman and river

PHOTOGRAPHY IN OCTOBER

The best times to photograph the park are sunrise and sunset when the light isn’t as bright as midday.

You won’t actually see the sun rising or setting due to the high stone walls in the park. You’ll be photographing the reflected glow onto the red rocks.

In October, you’ll find colorful fall leaves to complement the landscape!

Our favorite photography spots at Zion are:

  • History Museum back patio: sunrise
  • Canyon Overlook: sunrise
  • Three Patriarchs (shuttle stop): early morning
  • Riverside Walk (shuttle stop): early morning
  • Highway 9 landscape and bighorn sheep: early morning and evening
  • Checkerboard Mesa: early morning and evening
  • Pa’rus Trail: sunset
  • Kolob Terrace: sunset
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VIEW WILDLIFE IN OCTOBER

October is a great time to see wildlife in the park like deer, elk, and bighorn sheep.

Deer can be found along the Pa’rus trail in the morning and evening.

We’ve always had good success seeing the bighorn sheep when driving Highway 9, so keep your eyes open as you take that scenic drive!

What is the Best Time to Visit Zion?

We like to avoid the crowds at national parks, so winter is one of our favorite times to travel. Check out our list of times to visit Zion to see which time of year or month works best for you!

ALWAYS remember to check the forecast and road conditions because things change from day to day.

From our experience, Zion in October is amazing because the weather can’t be beat to enjoy all the outdoor activities at the park.

Zion does get HOT during the summer, so the best times to visit would be spring, fall and winter.

Where to Stay Near Zion

Places to Stay at Zion National Park (lodges, campgrounds and more!)

If you’re not staying in Zion, you definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to the park. Here are a few of our favorite places to stay close 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.
  • VRBO 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. 
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