The heart of Utah can be found in the beautifully scenic Zion National Park. Compared to the other parks located throughout the United States, Zion stands apart with its Mars-like canyons, trickling rivers, and other-worldly rock formations.
It doesn’t matter how you like to travel; you, too, can enjoy the wonders of Zion National Park. With highways that take you past all the best sights, trails guiding you through the canyons, and even rock climbing, there are so many ways to start your adventure in Utah.
With so much to do, some travelers may find it challenging to narrow the list to just a handful of places to see. What can you do if you’re only in Zion for a few days and want to make the most of your time?
We have brought all the best things to do in Zion National Park together in one place! Now you can easily find all the best trails, drives, and sights in just a matter of minutes.
Don’t leave home without your own: Lonely Planet USA’s National Parks (Travel Guide)
15 Best Things to Do in Zion National Park
Table of Contents
1. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
It doesn’t matter how much time you have in the park; the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is a must-do for all visitors. If you’re short on time or just looking to see the sights before you hit the trails, this 52 mile stretch of road showcases all the most beautiful places in Zion National Park.
Along the way, travelers will pass the famous Zion Canyon, the Great White Throne, and Angels Landing. Be sure to bring a picnic with you as there are many scenic overlooks on the drive that you’ll want to sit at for a while, taking in the view.
Keep in mind, though, that the scenic drive is only open to personal cars during the off season. During peak season, you need to reserve a shuttle ticket to enjoy the scenic drive through the park.
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is simply stunning and it is so different depending on the time of the year your visiting. Want to know what to expect during the time of the month your visiting? We have put together a guide highlighting each month.
2. Hike the Narrows
The Narrows tops the list of best things to do in Zion Park. The scenic canyon was created by the Virgin River, which cut through the solid rock for centuries. Nowadays, visitors can walk through the heart of the canyon with the river guiding their way.
The Narrows is a hike that can be done by travelers of all experience levels. Don’t forget to bring your camera; this is also one of the most photogenic spots in all of Zion National Park!
Hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park is a bucket list experience and it’s an adventure you should be prepared for. We’ve put together the ultimate guide to hiking the Narrows based on our experience.
3. Canyon Overlook Trail
Hikes such as The Narrows will take you deep into the canyon, but the Canyon Overlook Trail will put the true wonder of the park into perspective. With its panoramic views of the canyon and surrounding hills, this is a sight best witnessed during sunrise or sunset.
The best thing about the Canyon Overlook Trail is that hikers of all experience levels can do it! This easy hike is only a one-mile-long roundtrip and can be completed in 30 minutes to an hour.
Zion National Park has many great hiking trails ranging from short hikes that can take up to an hour to hikes that can take ten plus hours. We strongly recommend checking out the best hikes in Zion National Park so you can get the most out of your visit.
4. Hike the Subway
If you find The Narrows a bit too easy, be sure to check out the Subway! This strenuous hike is a total of 9.5 miles and takes most visitors anywhere from 7 to 9 hours to complete. If you have the time and the willpower, you’ll be witnessing a view that is truly one of a kind.
The Subway is a canyon that seems to bore through the rock, creating a hole you’d commonly see a trail passing through.
Be prepared to wade and climb your way along the trail, and don’t forget to pick up your one-day permit before starting your journey.
Do you have the right hiking gear? We have put together 40 Hiking Essentials that every hiker should have when out on the trails.
5. Do the Riverside Walk
Known as the Gateway to The Narrows, the Riverside Walk is a leisurely trail perfect for families and experienced hikers alike.
Starting at the Temple of Sinawava, this trail takes visitors along the river and passes by hanging gardens and other scenic spots along the canyon.
The Riverside Walk is only a two-mile roundtrip and takes most visitors around one hour to complete. Being such a short trail, this hike makes for a perfect half-day trip before you start exploring other parts of the park.
Zion has many great hikes but did you know that only one of them makes the list of top hikes in the USA?
6. Watchman Trail
If you’re looking for another easy hike a bit off of the beaten path, be sure to check out Watchman Trail. This short trail takes visitors up into the hills with sweeping views of the surrounding Springdale area.
No matter how much hiking experience you have, you can journey up Watchman Trail; a three-mile roundtrip, most people are done with the hike in around three hours! With breathtaking views and no crowds, this is a sight you won’t want to miss.
Are you into hiking? If so, here are a few more epic hikes in the world that need to be added on to your hiking bucket list.
7. Observation Trail
Looking for some of the best views in Zion National Park? Look no further than Observation Point. Situated on top of 6,521-foot-tall Mount Baldy, Observation Point offers terrific views of the canyon below.
The scenery is more than enough to inspire visitors to make the trek to the top of Mount Baldy but be prepared for a strenuous climb.
The entire Observation Trail is an eight-mile-long roundtrip and takes between four and six hours to complete. If you have the time for this trail it is sure to be the highlight of your trip to Utah.
Not happy with your photos from your last adventure? Here’s what we use to capture all of the photos.
8. See the Lower Emerald Pool
With waterfalls and tranquil pools at the bottom of the canyon, the Lower Emerald Pools rank among the top attractions in Zion National Park. The hike to the pools actually takes hikers past three different sections – the lower, middle, and upper pools.
The best way to visit the Lower Pools and the surrounding scenery is by hiking the trail. Lucky for you, the trail is considered easy and is a mere three miles long.
There are 3 pools to see along this hike, so be sure to check out our guide to hiking the Emerald Pools Trail to make sure you don’t miss any of them!
9. Climb to Angels Landing
Not only will you get some of the best views of Zion Canyon from the top of Angels Landing, but the rock itself is a landmark of the park. Standing 1,488 feet tall, this massive monument is hard to miss while exploring the park, and even better, you can hike to its peak.
Angels Landing is home to one of the most iconic hikes in the entire park. The Angels Landing Trail is cut through sheer rock, leading visitors to its summit.
Even though the hike is only a five-mile roundtrip, be prepared to spend anywhere between four and five hours on the trail.
This is known as one of the most dangerous hikes in the USA and you should be prepared. Be sure to check out our advice for hiking Angels Landing!
10. Checkerboard Mesa
This standing pinnacle is another of the top sights you’ll see while visiting Zion National Park. While driving on one of the scenic roads, this towering mountain is tough to miss.
Checkerboard Mesa is one of the most famous landforms in the entire park; standing 6,670 feet tall, you’ll surely want to grab a selfie in front of it.
For some travelers, simply viewing Checkerboard Mesa from the side of the road is not enough to do it justice.
Be sure to check out some of the scenic hikes, such as the Checkerboard Mesa Trail, to get up close and personal with this beauty.
Are you planning a road trip? We’ve put together everything you need to know when planning a road trip adventure.
11. Explore Kolob Canyons
Within Zion National Park, travelers will find all sorts of unique landforms. Apart from Zion Canyon, there is also the breathtaking Kolob Canyons to explore. With a 2,000-foot tall cliff wall, you’ll be astounded by the diversity found within the rocks and along its surface.
To really get a sense of the beauty of Kolob Canyons, you’ll have to either spend the night camping or choose one of the hiking trails.
With Timber Creek Overlook Trail, Taylor Creek Trail, and La Verkin Creek Trail topping the list, there are so many ways to get out and explore the wonders of Kolob Canyon.
This adventure requires a good tent, do you have one? Here are our tips on choosing the best tent along with a few of our favorites.
12. Visit the Human History Museum
Are you looking to deepen your knowledge of Zion National Park and the surrounding areas? Whether you’re a lover of history or just looking to beat the heat, you won’t want to miss a visit to the Zion Human History Museum.
Covering the histories of everyone from Native Americans to pioneers moving westward, you’ll learn all about the people who called this area home. With free video screenings and engaging exhibits, this is a museum you won’t want to miss.
Do you have a good travel day pack? Here’s our advice on how to choose the best travel daypack.
13. Check Out Cedar City
Even the most experienced traveler needs a few days to relax in the city every once in a while. Whether you’re looking for a place to recuperate or a city to call your home base while exploring the surrounding parks, Cedar City will meet all your needs.
We know you’ll be wanting to head to Zion National Park, but before you hop in the car and hit the trails, nothing is better than breakfast at one of the many restaurants in Cedar City. With tons of cafes, coffee shops, and even a few museums, Cedar City is the gateway to adventure!
Another popular city that we stayed in before exploring Zion National Park was St George, Utah and it did not disappoint!
14. Drive the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway
Not everyone is cut out for spending hours on the trail and roughing it in the woods. If you’re looking for another scenic road that will take you through some of the most jaw-dropping sights in Zion National Park, look no further than Zion-Mount Carmel National Highway.
The Zion-Mount Carmel National Highway is a short ten-mile stretch of road that packs quite a punch with its breathtaking overlooks of cascading waterfalls and sheer cliffs. The highway is also the jumping-off point for some of the most famous hikes in the park.
It is always smart to carry a reusable water bottle! Here are the best travel water bottles on the market and how to choose the right one for you.
15. Pa’rus Trail
Finishing up our list of best things to do in Zion National Park is the scenic Pa’rus Trail. The hike’s name translates to bubbling water, which is fitting because the trail follows the Virgin River.
The water isn’t the only thing you’ll see while exploring this part of Zion National Park: with deep canyons, lush vegetation, and towering mountains, this is a hike you’ll dream about coming back to.
Not to mention that it is largely paved, making it handicap accessible and a dream for biking.
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