When is the best time to go to Zion National Park?
The best time to visit Zion National Park in Utah depends on your preferences and the type of experience you’re seeking. Zion is a popular destination known for its stunning red rock canyons, diverse wildlife, and outdoor activities. Here are considerations for different seasons:
- Spring (March to May):
- Spring is a fantastic time to visit when the weather is generally mild and the park comes to life with blooming wildflowers.
- Waterfalls are often more active due to melting snow.
- It’s a popular season, so expect some crowds, especially during weekends and holidays.
- Summer (June to August):
- Summer brings warm temperatures, making it suitable for hiking and other outdoor activities.
- The park is busy during the summer, and some trails might be crowded.
- Be prepared for higher temperatures, especially in the lower elevations.
- Fall (September to November):
- Fall is another excellent time to visit when temperatures start to cool and the park’s vegetation takes on vibrant autumn colors.
- Crowds tend to decrease after Labor Day, providing a more peaceful experience.
- It’s a great time for hiking and photography.
- Winter (December to February):
- Winter offers a quieter experience, with fewer visitors and potential snow-covered landscapes.
- Some trails may be closed or icy, so check trail conditions before planning extensive hikes.
- The lower elevations might have milder temperatures, but the higher elevations can be cold.
- Shuttle System (Spring to Fall):
- During the peak season (spring to fall), Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles. Visitors use the park’s shuttle system. Arrive early to secure a spot on the shuttle.
- Closures and Conditions:
- Some trails and facilities may close during the winter months or due to adverse weather conditions. Check the park’s website for updates.
- Permits and Reservations:
- Certain activities, like canyoneering and overnight backpacking, may require permits. Check for reservation requirements and availability.
- Heat Awareness (Summer):
- In summer, especially during midday, temperatures can be high. Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and plan strenuous activities for the cooler parts of the day.
- Fall Colors (Fall):
- If you enjoy fall foliage, plan your visit from late September to early October for the best chances of seeing vibrant colors.
The best time for you to visit Zion National Park depends on your preferences for weather, crowd levels, and the type of activities you want to pursue. Each season offers a unique perspective of the park’s beauty.
What is the best month to visit Zion National Park? Well, this depends on what you are looking for. Zion is always spectacular, but each season brings its pros and cons.
Spring is less crowded, and temperatures are perfect, but the remaining snow from winter plus snowmelt can keep parts of the park closed, including “The Narrows.”
Summer is hot and crowded in Zion Canyon. It is a great time to visit the higher, more relaxed, and less congested areas of the park: East Zion, Kolob Terrace, and Kolob Canyons.
Fall is one of my favorite seasons in Zion. The temperatures are great, there are fewer people, and the color change of the trees brightens up the park.
Knowing what to expect will help you plan a fantastic trip, no matter when you visit Zion.
Temperature & Precipitation in Zion
Spring in Zion: March, April, and May
Long days, pleasant weather, and fewer crowds make spring a perfect time to visit Zion.
Early spring (late March or April) can still be cold, but melting snow almost always forms beautiful waterfalls in Zion Canyon. The more snow there is in the winter, the bigger the falls. Unfortunately, snowy winters can limit high mountain hiking and keep “The Narrows” closed until June due to heavy snowmelt flows.
May is one of my favorite months, filled with warm temperatures and beautiful wildflowers.
“Memorial Day” (the most crowded weekend of the year) heralds the arrival of large numbers of people and high temperatures for the following months.
Summer in Zion: June, July, and August
Summer in Zion Canyon is hot and busy, with long lines at bus stops and temperatures reaching 100˚F. Reserve hotels and camping spaces well in advance.
To escape the sweltering heat and the hordes of tourists in Zion Canyon, you can head to lesser-known and higher areas like “Kolob Terrace” and “Kolob Canyons: which are beautiful in the summer.
Be aware of the monsoon season, which is accompanied by regular storms in the afternoons. This season starts in June and can go until September.
Autumn in Zion: September, October, November
Fall is one of my favorite times to visit Zion thanks to its pleasant temperatures, low crowds, and, best of all — a change in the color of the vegetation.
After Labor Day, the number of visitors and the temperatures drop, making September an excellent month to visit Zion.
At the end of September / beginning of October, the temperatures during the day are almost always excellent.
The change of color in the vegetation begins at the beginning of October in the upper parts of the park. It then progressively descends during the following weeks to the bottom of the canyon. The peak in the color change in Zion Canyon occurs in late October / early November.
Winter in Zion: December, January, and February
Cold temperatures keep many visitors away from Zion during this season, but they can’t imagine how beautiful the park looks after a snowfall.
If you don’t mind the cold, this is a great time to visit Zion. Almost the entire park is open except for Lava Point, which is almost always inaccessible due to snow.
The biggest downside to visiting Zion in the winter is that outdoor adventures are limited, as are the programs offered by rangers. The most significant advantage of visiting Zion in the winter: private vehicles can travel through Zion Canyon without restriction when the visitor bus route is not operating.
Weather and climate in Zion National Park
- From January to March, the weather is the worst possible. The record temperature this month is 19 ° C, and it rains about 17% during March.
- In April, the weather is not good. On average, it is 3 °C in the morning, and it rains about 15% during April.
- In May the weather is fine. The temperature rises to 17 °C and, in May, six days of rain are expected.
- In June the weather is perfect. For example, 25 °C is the maximum temperature in June, and it rains about 9mm every month.
- From July to September, the weather is splendid. At noon, it is 20 °C on average, and it rains about 36mm every month.
- In October, the weather is not good, but it is still good. At dusk, the average temperature is 13 °C, and it rains about 13% during October.
- Between November and December, the weather is terrible. The temperature rises to 2 ° C, and it rains about 16% during December.
Graphs: Temperature and Rainfall in Zion National Park
The following graphs allow you to see the following seasonal norms for Zion National Park: the minimum and maximum outdoor temperature, the risk and the monthly volume of rainfall, the average daily amount of sunshine, the relative humidity rate for each month of the year.
Tips to visit Zion National Park
Five national parks in Utah are known as “The Mighty Five,” or, in Spanish, “the powerful five,” one of which is Zion National Park. It is one of the most spectacular that I have been able to visit on the west coast of the United States, and I have been fortunate to do so on two occasions.
It is a canyon with high walls of deep red rock, which lose their color as they rise towards the sky until they reach the nuclear white of the sedimentary layer of Carmel Formation that crowns the highest peaks.
At the bottom of Zion Canyon, the Virgin River meanders, surrounded by lush vegetation that adorns this lavish landscape with giant poplars, willows, pines, and hanging gardens in the corners where moisture drips down the wall.
We usually associate Zion Park with Bryce Canyon and try to visit both in one day due to their proximity. But it is a grave mistake since they are two essential parks to explore and enjoy hiking for a full day in each of them.
But there is a difference between these two parks; in Bryce Canyon, the visit begins from above to walk towards the bottom. While in Zion National Park, you start from the bottom, go up one of its trails, and get amazing views that take your breath away as a reward.
- When is the best time to go to Zion National Park?
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HOW MUCH DOES THE ENTRANCE TO ZION NATIONAL PARK COST?
$ 35 per vehicle
(Price updated as of October 20, 2020)
Entering Zion National Park costs $35. The ticket is valid for one week. If you are traveling along the West Coast of the United States, you can use the annual pass.
It is a pass with which you can enter all the national parks of the United States for 12 months. The Annual Pass costs $80 and is profitable when you plan to visit more than two national parks.
Here you can view and download the Zion National Park brochure, given out by the rangers when you arrive. It’s in English, but it has the best map of Zion National Park.
🗺️ WHERE IS THE ZION NATIONAL PARK
Zion National Park is conveniently located, less than 3 hours from Las Vegas and halfway between Bryce Canyon National Park and the town of Page, home to the famous Antelope Canyon.
If you arrive from Las Vegas, you will enter through the south gate, through the town of Springfield. And if you come from Bryce Canyon or Page, you will access Zion Park through the entrance of Mount Carmel, the most spectacular in the park. The road blends in with the landscape and tames it with red asphalt, giving the photographer an almost endless game.
In this route, there are two tunnels drilled in the rock of Zion, which lead directly to the main canyon of the park. Its dimensions are not very large because heavy vehicles were not very common when they were built in 1920.
So if you travel by motorhome and exceed 3.4m high and 2.4m wide, including mirrors, you will need an escort. Right there, a fee of $15 is paid to the ranger who waits at each end of the main tunnel, the longest of the two. They will be in charge of closing the tunnel to traffic and accompanying you as you cross it. The price includes two escorted routes.
Zion National Park has two more entrances to access Kolob Canyons to the north and west, much quieter than Zion Canyon but infinitely less attractive.
If you want to know the state of the park’s roads as well as the trails, you can visit the official Zion website.
📆 WHEN IS THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO VISIT ZION PARK
The climate in Zion National Park is highly variable. During the summer, temperatures can reach 35 degrees Celsius. But if you plan to do a walk, the usual thing will be to get up early or finish at sunset, and at those times, the temperatures drop a lot.
I have visited Zion twice, once in the spring and once at the end of the summer, in September. And I have been able to observe that Zion Canyon is a living landscape and that the erosion suffered by all the topography of the west coast is accentuated in Zion National Park.
What do I mean by this? The trails are continually affected by the rains and rockfalls caused by the harsh winter. The spring thaw raises the level of the Virgen or Virgin River, which runs through the Zion Canyon, making it impossible to do the famous trekking, The Narrows.
When we visited Zion National Park in June, we couldn’t do much there. The trails of Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, Hidden Canyon Trail, the one that leads to Observation Point, and the Narrows are closed to the public, with the famous Angels Landing as the only option. And of course, this being the only option, imagine how the people’s path was.
Therefore, summer is the best time to visit a park where water is the absolute protagonist. Late in the summer, we will have given time to repair the trails and for the level of the Virgin River to drop to do the Narrows.
I haven’t been lucky enough to visit Zion National Park in the winter, but it’s not hard to figure out that most trails will be closed, and those that are open will be a natural hazard.
When is the best time to go to Zion National Park?
You can park your car at the Visitor Center, and from there take the bus that takes you into Zion Canyon, making nine different stops. But if the visitor center parking is complete, you will have to park in Springdale, the town located at the south entrance, and from there, take the shuttle bus between Springdale and the Visitor Center.
In summer, they operate from 5:35 a.m. to 11:15 pm, with a waiting time of 15 minutes or even less. Internal buses allow access to some of the most beautiful views and trails in Zion National Park. A round trip takes approximately ninety minutes.
📸 WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN ZION NATIONAL PARK
Zion National Park has mainly two areas to visit: the Kolob canyon and the Zion canyon. But 99.9% of travelers only visit Zion Canyon, which is the most popular and attractive. So when I talk about what to do in Zion National Park, I mean Zion Canyon.
Mount Zion in Jerusalem by the first Mormons displaced from the Atlantic coast, who came looking for a place to settle. For this reason, Its biblical name is not a coincidence; there are also peaks with the name of the Hebrew patriarchs and the river that runs through the bottom of the Zion canyon baptized with the name of Virgin, “Virgin” in Spanish, was not random.
I am going to list everything you can see in Zion National Park ordered according to the bus stops in the park:
VISITOR CENTER: To collect information on the state of the trails. The Watchman Trail begins there, with just over 4 km. Between the roundtrip, with lovely views of Watchman Peak and the entrance to Zion canyon. Ideal to do it first thing in the morning.
ZION MUSEUM: This is a free park museum with permanent exhibits showing the history and cultural life of the North American Indians and the pioneers who called this canyon home.
CANYON JUNCTION: Here’s one of the most iconic views in the park, with the Virgin River in the foreground and Watchman’s Peak in the background. Ideal for watching the sunset.
COURT OF THE PATRIARCHS: In “The Court of the Patriarchs,” you can see a set of peaks called Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, alluding to the Biblical Hebrew fathers. A quick and easy path of only two minutes elevates us to see the patriarchs on the vegetation.
ZIONS LODGE: There is the park hotel, with beautiful meadows to rest in, shops, restaurants, bathrooms, and water fountains. The trail that leads to the Emerald Pools ponds begins with a short hike that does not require any preparation and is completed in just 1 hour.
The Angels Landing trail begins there. This hike is the star of the courses in Zion National Park. The variety of the path makes anyone who does not have vertigo choose to do this 5-hour excursion to overview the entire park.
WEEPING ROCK: There three trails begin, the Weeping Rock Trail, the Hidden Canyon Trail, and the West Rim Trail, to reach Observation Point, one of the best views of the Zion canyon. But they are all closed indefinitely by rock falls.
BIG BEND: No trail starts at stop number 8; it is just a stop along the way to admire the walls of the Zion Canyon and observe the crest of Angels Landing from below.
TEMPLE OF SINAWAVA: It is the last stop and, therefore, the end of the road. The Riverside Walk begins a 1-kilometer long paved path, which accompanies the Virgin River to the point where the river’s straits, known as The Narrows Zion, begin.
🏃🏻 THE BEST TREKKINGS IN ZION
|Emerald Pools Trail (Lower + Upper)
|Weeping Rock Trail
|Hidden Canyon Trail
This trail is off the park bus line. The beginning is just after passing the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, where there is a small parking lot where we can leave our car and start the walk. It is a trail where only 60 minutes are used between the round trip, and you reach a panoramic point of Pine Creek Canyon with views towards Zion Canyon different from those we can have in Angels Landing.
⏱️ HOW LONG DO I NEED TO VISIT ZION NATIONAL PARK
Many travelers who prepare for their road trip through the American West ask me to visit Zion National Park in 4 hours? NO! Not. There are many “hikes” in Zion. But if you settle for a bus ride without barely getting off at the intermediate stops, then yes.
Zion National Park is very popular, and simply searching for parking will take a long time. And once in the park, you have to manage your time counting on the bus trips.
Now, if you are not going to visit Zion and you have to travel between Bryce Canyon and Las Vegas, at least design your route to cross the Mt. Carmel – Zion highway because just with that, you are going to hallucinate. And since you won’t be stepping on Zion canyon, you won’t need to take a bus.
WHAT TO DO IN ZION IN HALF DAY
If you only have a morning or an afternoon to visit Zion, I recommend the Angels Landing hike as it is the best for an overview of the park.
Park your car where you can and go to stop number 6, The Grotto, which gives access to the path that will take you to Angels Landing. This hike is the star of the Zion National Park Treks. The variety of ways you will find your way to Angels Landing makes anyone who does not have vertigo choose to do this 8.7 kilometer-long excursion to be covered in about 4 or 5 hours between the round trip.
It starts next to the Virgin River and quickly zigzags up a path carved directly into the rock face until you reach Refrigerator Canyon. It is such a narrow slot where the light does not usually get to the bottom, so the temperatures generally give the walker a break, hence its name.
Afterward, you climb a grueling zigzag that gains height with each step. From here, the views are spectacular, walking along a ridge that offers dizzying perspectives looking down to one side and the other. There are sections with steps carved into the rock, others with chains to climb and advance. The ultimate prize is a 360-degree panorama that rivals any other point of view from Zion.
WHAT TO SEE IN ZION IN 1 FULL DAY
And if you have a full day to visit Zion National Park, complete the Angels Landing trail in the morning. But if you are afraid of heights and don’t like the chain section at all, you can make half the course reaching the Scouts Lookout lookout point. That way, you will get high enough to have the Zion canyon at your feet, with views that will more than fulfill your expectations without exposing too much.
In the afternoon, do a part of the Narrows of Zion is the most famous excursion in the entire park and the most difficult since it takes place along the bed of the Virgin River. Therefore, it is essential to go to the Visitor Center to prepare and find out both the conditions in which the Virgin River is and the weather.
Good water shoes, swimming trunks, a dry second kit stored hermetically, and a cane to keep your balance while advancing along the riverbed is essential. But don’t panic; you don’t have to complete the 8 hours it takes to tour The Narrows either. Most hikers do not go beyond a third of the way and still have some incredible views.
🛌🏻 HOTELS IN ZION NATIONAL PARK
There is only one hotel in Zion National Park; the Zions Lodge is at stop number 5 of the park shuttle buses. The room price is around $ 200, which is not very absurd, but it sells out many months in advance.
Depending on the configuration of your route, it is customary to stay in Springdale or Kanab to sleep near Zion, where you will find a room for half the price of Zions Lodge. Take a look at the post that deals exclusively with “where to sleep in Zion,” where you have recommendations and maps with nearby towns to find a hotel.
The best time to go to Zion National Park
When is the best time to visit Zion National Park? Here is information that will help to make a decision: The best months to have good weather in Park Zion National are May, June, July, August, and September. On average, the warmest months are June, July, and August.
The best time to go to Zion National Park