Zion is one of Utah’s five national parks famous for its distinguished steep red cliffs. There are so many things to see, do and photograph at Zion.
Did you know there are actually four Zion National Park scenic drives to enjoy? The landscape and views you’ll see along each scenic drive is breathtaking!
There are several roadside stops along the routes for you to explore Zion on foot or by bike.
If you’re looking for Zion National Park ideas, be sure to these scenic drives to your must-do list!
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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
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 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:
- CLICK TO DOWNLOAD; US National Parks packing list
- Darn Tough socks
- Fleece jacket
- Buff headbands
- Hand sanitizer
- Flashlight or headlamp
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- CLICK TO DOWNLOAD OUR Camera gear checklist
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
When you’re planning your Zion National Park vacation, you’ll find that the Zion Canyon is the hub of the park.
Most of the year, you’ll need to use the shuttle to access Zion Canyon.
You can also enjoy Zion Canyon by bike. It’s a popular alternative to the shuttle buses. You’ll need to stay on the roadways and ride single file on the right side of the road.
Bicycles are allowed on the shuttle buses, but you’ll need to be able to lift them on and off the front racks yourself.
We recommend taking a Zion hike or two in this canyon. You’ll find the famous Zion Narrows and Angel’s Landing here.
Take your time to enjoy the points of interest at each shuttle stop as you visit the Zion Canyon scenic drive.
Mt. Carmel Scenic Byway
There are a few names for this stretch of road from Springdale to the Mt. Carmel Junction past the east entrance to Zion National Park. It’s known as Utah Scenic Byway-9, Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Mt. Carmel Scenic Byway.
No matter what you call it, it’s definitely a scenic drive!
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.
Note that large campers, RVs and buses must have an escort and requires a permit to drive through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel.
Along the 10 mile scenic drive 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.
It’s amazing driving through the tunnels carved into the deep stone mountains. They are lit within by windows cut through to the face of the cliffs.
There are no pull-off points, and no walking or biking is allowed within the tunnels, so you’re left to see the views through the “windows” as you drive.
This stretch of road is a terrific place to enjoy the fall colors at Zion in the Fall.
Kolob Terrace Scenic Drive
The Kolob Terrace Scenic Drive is another beautiful area that 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.
Most of the trailheads here lead into the Zion wilderness. Exploring the backcountry and canyoneering are popular things to do at Zion.
The road is open all year, but if you’re visiting Zion 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. Driving conditions can be very poor during a storm, but roads are usually plowed quickly after.
Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive
Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive is another drive through Zion National Park.
It’s 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.
If you’re looking for Zion hikes without the shuttle, then this is the place to explore! There are three hiking trails: Timber Creek Overlook, Taylor Creek and La Verkin Creek.
The canyons here are designated as “wilderness” and protected so there are group size limits to help reduce impact.
Keep in mind that access to Kolob Canyons regularly closes in inclement weather. Driving conditions can be very poor during a storm, but roads are usually plowed quickly after.