Vacation Guide for Zion National Park in the Fall

You’ll love visiting Zion National Park in the fall! September, October and November are perfect times to enjoy outdoor activities at this incredible National Park in Utah.

Use this Zion National Park travel guide to plan your fall vacation: things to do, what to pack, where to stay and more!

Zion National Park in the fall

It’s important to know the weather, services, activities, and other tips for planning a Zion vacation in the fall.

get the free Zion National Park packing lists
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.

What to Pack for Zion National Park

DOWNLOAD: Zion National Park packing list for summer and winter!

Outdoor Gear we recommend! Travel Gear & Hiking Gear

outdoor gear we use

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!

Visiting Zion National Park in the Fall

When visiting Zion National Park in the fall, be prepared for crowds since it’s considered a peak season for this most-visited Utah National Park.

Be sure to hit the shuttle, trails and Highway 9 scenic drive first thing in the morning!

Does the Shuttle Run in the Fall?

Yes. The Zion National Park shuttle runs every day in the fall so check the shuttle schedule for the most updated information. 

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.

Can You Drive Through Zion National Park in in the Fall?

Zion Canyon is closed to all personal vehicles in September so plan to use the Zion National Park shuttle that runs a full schedule every day.

The other three Zion National Park scenic drives are open for you to drive your own car: Highway 9, Kolob Terrace Road and Kolob Canyon.

What Services Are Available in the Fall?

Zion National Park is open all year long, every day of the year. Check the website for the most current Zion National Park facilities hours:

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

Reservations are required for camping in Zion National Park in the fall so plan ahead!

Is Fall A Good Time to Visit Zion?

One of the best times to visit Zion National Park is in the fall.

The temperatures are mild which makes for the perfect hiking weather as well as other fun activities while visiting the park. It’s also a great time to see fall colors at Zion National Park.

Fall Weather at Zion National Park

The weather at Zion in the fall is amazing! The temperatures are moderate which is why it’s a popular time of year for people to visit.

You’ll still experience monsoons in early fall at Zion. 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.

Dressing in layers is recommended during the fall at Zion – we always carry our fleece jacket and have a winter hat and gloves for the late fall mornings and evenings. It’s also important to stay hydrated all year long so carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack.

Zion National Park Fall Colors

You’ll see leaves turning colors in all areas of the park: Zion Canyon, Highway 9, Kolob Terrace and Kolob Canyon.

Best Time for Fall Colors in Zion National Park

September: If you are going to Zion to see the fall colors, then you will want to go starting in mid-September. Usually, you will only see a little bit of color at the higher elevations in the early part of September. As mid-September hits, about 30 to 50 percent of the trees at the higher elevation have changed making for a gorgeous sight. As late September comes around you will usually be able to see fall colors all over Zion National Park. This is a truly incredible view to see and to take pictures of. 

October: By mid-October the higher elevations will be passed peak season, but you will still see beautiful Zion National Park fall colors at lower elevations. Late October the colors really start to appear!

November: Late October through mid-November will be the very best time for see the Zion National Park fall foliage and colors.  

Things to Do at Zion National Park in the Fall

Check out all the fun things to do at Zion National Park in the fall!

Zion Ranger Led Programs in the Fall

Be sure to take advantage of the ranger-led programs that run throughout the year. In the fall they will run until mid-October. These programs are great to help teach geology, botany, and wildlife as well as human history. 

There are also 2-mile hikes, lectures, ranger shuttle tours, youth programs at the nature center, and more. Be sure to check to see what Ranger-led activities are available before visiting.

Zion Scenic Drives in the Fall

Take time to enjoy all FOUR Zion National Park scenic drives. The Zion Canyon road is only accessible by shuttle or bicycle in the fall. The shuttles are free. You can rent bikes in Springdale.

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 the Kolob Canyons section has a five-mile drive that’s also spectacular. It’s accessed 40 miles north of Zion Canyon.

sunrise-near-Mount-Carmel-Tunnel-at-Zion-Photo-Jeepers

Fall Hiking in Zion National Park

There are so many great Zion National Park hikes, and fall is the best time to explore this park. You’ll find all types of hiking trails from easy Zion National Park hikes to strenuous canyoneering route.

Check out the Zion hikes without the shuttle if you want to get away from the crowds!

We recommend you check with the Visitor Center for updated trail conditions before setting out on any hike because the Zion landscape is always changing which means trails may close due to falling rocks, rockslides and other unsafe conditions.

While hiking in Zion, especially in the late fall, be sure to dress in layers. Due to the elevation you can expect big changes in temperature. The mornings and evenings are cool then it warms up during the day.

Angels Landing pilot programOn 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.

Zion Narrows hiking trail in the fall

Zion Canyoneering in the Fall

Zion is known for it’s canyoneering adventures. It’s an outdoor activity that combines route finding, rappelling, problem solving, swimming, and hiking.

The two most famous canyoneering trails are The Narrows and The Subway. You will need canyoneering permits and be sure to read all regulations for doing this activity inside the park boundaries.

If you want a once of a lifetime experience, then go on a guided canyoneering trip at Zion. The fall weather is just right for exploring the canyons at this park.

Hop-Valley-view-Kolob-Terrace-at-sunset-Photo-Jeepers

Zion Photography in the Fall

Sunrise and sunset are the best times for Zion National Park photography 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, but you’ll capture amazing pictures of the reflected glow onto the red rocks.

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
take jaw-dropping photos at Zion National Park

Stargazing at Zion in the Fall

Did you know that Zion has some of the clearest skies in the fall? The Museum patio has a wide view of the sky so it’s a great place for stargazing. There is ample parking with restrooms. This location is the park’s official night sky viewing area.

Another good stargazing site is the Kolob Canyons viewpoint at the end of the Kolob Canyons scenic drive. Look east toward the cliffs for the darkest skies.

Carry a flashlight or wear a headlamp with a red light to navigate. If you’ll be out in the park at night, don’t stop or stand in the roadway. Always use pullouts and parking lots. This is a good safety tip in daylight or at night!

Zion Pa'rus Trail in the fall

Bicycling at Zion in the Fall

Did you know you can access Zion Canyon by bike? Bicycling at Zion is a fun way to get around the park. 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.

There are 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.

Zion Horseback Riding in the Fall

TIP: the most overlooked Zion National Park activity is riding a horse through the park. A Zion horseback riding tour gives you a different view of 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.

More Activities To Do in Zion National Park:

BUY AT AMAZON: Zion National Park Guides and Maps

Zion national park guides and maps

Plan Your Vacation To Zion National Park

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:

get the free Zion National Park packing lists

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.