Travel thorough the main section of Zion National Park offers one of the most beautiful drives in the US. The scenic byway known as the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, begins at the south entrance to Zion and continues out the east entrance, finally ending in Mount Carmel Junction. At the junction of SR-9 and US-89 you can choose to either travel north to Bryce Canyon National Park, the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Dixie National Forest’s Red Canyon and Cedar Mountain, or the other direction to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
From the junction of Scenic Byways 9 & 89, on the east side of Zion, you are close to everything! You are 12 miles from Zion National Park, 60 miles from Bryce Canyon, 85 miles from the Grand Canyon, 45 miles from Cedar Breaks and 9 miles from the Glendale, Utah entrance to the Grand Staircase-Escalante.
The roads in and through Zion National Park are open year-round, all day, every day, but there are travel times for large vehicles like RV’s because travel for them needs to be arranged and this can only be done when the toll booths are open, which in the summer is usually 8am to 8pm.
Make sure to experience all the park has to offer by taking this incredible scenic drive. There are many pull-outs along the road to stop, hike and take photos.
Once you are in Zion, a visit into Zion Canyon is a must. The Zion Canyon Shuttle only runs through the 6 mile section of Zion Canyon.
The East side of Zion National Park brings you close to not only Zion National Park, but also Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase-Escalante and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
There are a variety of lodging accommodations in the East Zion area including cabins, ranches, a Best Western, small family owned hotels, RV parks, campgrounds and vacation homes. Make your lodging reservations in the heart of southern Utah’s most magnificent National Parks and Monuments, and you will have a vacation you will never forget
This is Pine Creek, which is a slot canyon in Zion National Park. While on the Canyon Overlook Trail, which is on the east side of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, you might be able to hear canyoneers below you. While not everyone wants to canyoneer with a rope, there are plenty of slot canyons on the east side of Zion that can be explored without one and the most magnificent of all slot canyons is at the end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive – The Zion Narrows
Orderville Canyon in Zion National Park can be done by most fit, active people
The word “Zion” has many meanings and evokes various feelings. For those that have seen Zion National Park, you need to know that it displays some of the greatest scenery that the world has to offer. A well known, 1880 geologist once said:
“Nothing can exceed the wondrous beauty of Zion
in the nobility and beauty of the sculptures
there is no comparison.”
Long ago, when the Paiute Indians roamed the Zion area, they were afraid of the wind that blew through Zion Canyon each evening, and thus refused to stay in the canyon after dark. They called Zion Canyon, I-u-goone. Early Utah settlers viewed the towering monoliths as grand natural temples and named it “Little Zion,” meaning “the heavenly city of God”. Today we call this incredible section of southern Utah, Zion National Park and it includes far more than Zion Canyon. There is the main part of the park, which is traveled by following SR-9, there is the Kolob Canyons section, known for having the trail that leads to the worlds second longest free standing arch, which is off I-15 near Cedar City, Utah, and there is the Kolob Terrace area, known for the famous Subway “slot canyon,” which is accessed from Virgin, Utah.
Zion is located in the Great Basin Desert, but this corner of the state is far from what one would picture as a hot and dry desert. The land is forested with 3,000 foot high mountains, plateaus, canyons and creeks that wind and twist through the terrain. Best known is the Virgin River which is well known as the force that carved through tons of sandstone, over a multitude of time, to form Zion Canyon.
Zion National Park Landmarks
Impressive Zion National Park landmarks literally fill Zion Canyon, such as Cathedral Mountain, Temple of Sinawava and the Great White Throne, each living up to its namesake. Zion National Park is indeed the showcase of the West. What are considered to be the “best Utah hikes” are located in Zion National Park as well. The top contenders include the East and West Rim’s, which are marvelous backbacks, or long day hikes, and of course the magnificent Angels Landing and gorgeous Emerald Pools. The Zion Narrows probably has no contender as the very best of all the incredible trails in the United States, and it ranks up there with the most spectacular slot canyons as well. The easy Weeping Rock Trail and Riverside Walk are short, scenic and are the most traveled hikes in the park.
Canyon Overlook Trail
The Canyon Overlook Trail, located on the east side of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, is an easy hike with impressive views of lower Zion Canyon, including the dramatic switchback on which you travel from the south side of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel down to the bottom of Pine Creek.
Checkerboard Mesa is a geological wonder that should not be missed when visiting Zion National Park. It’s
located at the far east end of the park near the east entrance.
Zion Canyon and Trails in the Canyon
The Zion Canyon Drive is something that every visitor to the park should experience. From mid-March to late October and sometimes as late as November, plan to park at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and ride the shuttle into Zion Canyon. During the colder months of the year, when visitation dwindles you are allowed to travel into the canyon in your private vehicle.
Inside Zion Canyon there are some easy trails that are classics of Zion. Make sure to hike the easy Weeping Rock Trail. This short uphill hike leads to a beautiful alcove with water seeping and hanging gardens.
The Riverside Walk is historically known as the Gateway to the Narrows Trail, and so, obviously, this hike is the precursor to the famous Zion Narrows. It’s an easy hike that has few elevation changes and the path is shaded most of the day.
Emerald Pools Trail
The Emerald Pools Trail is a classic of Zion National Park. The trail leads to three unique pools and offers impressive views of the Virgin River and the monoliths that rim it. If you want an easy trail, just hike to the lower pool.
East Rim Trail
The East Rim is magnificent, and can be done either as a long day hike or an easy backpack. The East Rim has the option of taking the spurs to Echo Canyon, Observation Point and Hidden Canyon.
Angels Landing Trail
Angels Landing is a hike that is on everyone’s hit list that is looking for adventure. The beginning of the trail is the West Rim Trail, but at Scout Lookout, hikers detour to a half-mile spur leading out on a narrow ledge to the Angels Landing view point.
This incredible slot canyon is on the National Geographic Online Magazine list as one of the top five adventures in the US, and from someone that has done a lot of hiking, climbing and canyoneering – the Zion Narrows is hard to beat, and if I were pressed to say the best hike of all time, it would be the Narrows.
Beyond Zion’s Classic Trails
There are many more hikes and adventures in Zion National Park, but listed above are the classics that most people who visit the park want to see first. Experienced hikers, and those looking for trails that are off the beaten path will find a treasure trove of gems in Zion National Park.
LARGE MAP OF SOUTHERN UTAH