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13 Best Things to do in Zion National Park

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If you’re looking for the best things to do in Zion National Park, you’re in the right place.

We have been to Zion a few times, and it’s easily one of our favorite national parks that we’ve been to, even though it is a bit of a drive from Denver!

Zion National Park has a plethora of beautiful canyon views, challenging hikes, winding rivers, and darting wildlife. And there are more things to do in Zion than just hiking! Crazy right?

The variety can be overwhelming, so we compiled the best things to do in Zion National Park just for you. Let’s get to it!

Summit Angel’s Landing

woman walking along edge of rock

A world-renowned hike, Angel’s Landing leaves its visitors in awe of the beauty of the trail and the seemingly never-ending sights from the view at the top.

This hike is not easy but definitely doable for most ages, just be careful and stay on the trail.

Another great thing about this hike is the variety in just one area of the park. The trailhead starts by the Virgin River, where you begin the ascent to the top. 

The lower half of the trail is full of greenery and wildlife, and before you know it you’ve submitted the switchbacks and are trekking along a narrow mountain top, witnessing the colorfully lined canyon walls and blue river from soaring heights.

This is an unreal experience and a Zion National Park must-see. Permits are now needed to do this hike, so be sure to visit the NPS website for more information.

Grab a souvenir at the visitor center

entrance to the zion national park visitor center

Looking for a souvenir? A little more information on the park?

Lucky for you Zion National Park is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, so there are a lot of options for education and shopping.

The park itself has two visitor centers, Zion Canyon Visitor Center and Kolob Canyon Visitor Center. There is also the Zion Human History Museum. 

These are your go-to’s to learn about all that encompasses the beautiful Zion National Park.

Now if you’re looking for shopping and souvenirs, I would recommend stopping at the Springdale Visitor Center.

They have unique souvenirs as well as anything you could need for your stay in Zion. Camping gear, hiking boots, maps, gifts, you name it!

Hike up to the Emerald Pools

small hiking path under rocks

Now, who doesn’t want to visit mystical waterfalls and pools that make you feel like you’re in a fantasy world?

One of the best things to do in Zion, the Emerald Pools trails allow everyone to get a taste of the magic.

The trail to lower pools is classified as an easy trail and accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, and very kid-friendly.

The middle pool is a bit more difficult to reach and goes up the slope a bit more but still a very doable hike.

For my adventure seekers out there, I would suggest going all the way up to the upper pool. A bit more strenuous and time-consuming, but worth the magnificent views that accompany the trek.

Spend the night in one of Zion’s campgrounds

tent set up in small flat campground by the mountains

Honestly, just staying in one of Zion’s beautiful campgrounds would be worth the trip.

There are three campgrounds located in Zion: The Watchman Campground, The South Campground, and Lava Point Campground.

The Watchman and The South Campground are located near each other near Springdale. Although both of these campsites are beautiful, there is little shade in the area.

If you’re looking for a campsite out of the way from the busyness of the park, opt for Lava Point Campground. 

Located at the highest point in Zion, here you can truly feel like you’re away from everything, surrounded by unimaginable beauty.

Catch the sunrise at the Zion Canyon Overlook

Seeing the orange and yellow rays of the sunrise set the canyon alight is an incredible thing to do in Zion besides hiking.

The best place to experience this is from the Zion Canyon Overlook point and overall this is one of the best things to do in Zion National Park.

The overlook is preceded by a short one-mile hike that takes about 30 minutes to complete, and it is considered fairly easy for most parties.

The brisk hike will wake you right up for the magnificent sight that awaits just at the top of the canyon.

Bike throughout the park

person biking along road in a national park

Being in a beautiful place can only be topped by riding a bike through it, and Zion National Park is no different.

There are various different rentals in the town of Springdale with all different kinds of options so you can find the best fit for you. At Zion National Park Lodge, you can rent a half day for $25.

You can bike on every paved road in the park, some of which are a little more intense than others.

This is one of the best things to do in Zion National Park if you’re looking for a different way to experience the breathtaking scenery.

Explore the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway

road leading through a tunnel in a mountain

If you’ve been to Zion before, this drive is something you remember! It still blows us away every time we drive into the park from Denver.

A stunning, winding road takes visitors through the vaulted canyon. The red, orange and yellow hues of the canyon walls and rock formations are garnished with the classic Utah flora creating a scene right out of a Zane Grey novel.

And you get to drive through the iconic canyon tunnel!

If you’re looking for a relaxing way to spend some time in the park, this should be your first choice.

Meander on the Riverside Walk

walking path along a river

How many times in your daily life do you feel like you can actually meander? Not many I would bet.

Step away from the busy day-to-day on this trail because meandering along the Riverside Walk is the perfect terminology for this activity. 

And the scenery is out of the world. You’ll witness some intricate rock formations, walk by some hanging gardens on the canyon walls, and get all the river access you could ask for.

This trail is wheelchair and stroller-friendly, so anyone can experience the serene beauty it has to offer. 

See the Court of the Patriarchs

three rock peaks with trees along the base

The Court of the Patriarchs is one of THE things to see in Zion National Park.

Sitting heads above the trees, the majestic, three-pronged rock formation is a natural wonder.

It received its nickname when a Methodist minister visited the area in 1916 and decided to name the peaks after three prominent biblical figures, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The trail to the viewpoint of the Court of the Patriarchs is a brief one, and you can ride the Zion National Park shuttle right to the trailhead.

Snap a photo at Checkerboard Mesa

rock formation with a checkerboard imprint

Seeing Checkerboard Mesa is another one of the best things to do in Zion National Park.

This unusual pattern embedded into the sandstone stands out against the craggy walls and cliffs in other sections of the canyon.

Be on the lookout for Checkerboard Mesa once you pass through the tunnel on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway.

There are plenty of places to pull over and snap some pictures, so don’t forget to do so when you reach Checkerboard Mesa.

Stargaze at the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint

red road winding through a park

Now we already know Zion National park is bustling with visitors all year long, so if you’re looking to feel more like you’re in the wilderness, head to Kolob Canyon.

Many visitors dismiss this area of the park because it is a little out of the way than the main sections and sights in the park, but it is more than worth the extra time.

Because there are fewer visitors, you will have the forested canyon all to yourself, with an unobstructed view of the vast Utah sky.

It’s the perfect place to pack a car full of blankets, pillows, and snacks and set up for an astronomical night of stargazing.

See what I did there?

Go on a horseback ride

people riding horses along a river bank

So you’ve biked, you’ve walked, you’ve hiked, and you’ve driven throughout the park; what’s left?

Catching a glimpse of the canyon on horseback, of course!

Saddle up for a true western adventure and traverse between canyon walls and over sandstone hills on an animal as striking as the landscape around you.

Just like renting bikes, there are plenty of different places where you can secure the steed of your choice; get your friends in on it too!

The trails allow you to trot past all the unique formations off the beaten path. A great opportunity for you and your horse to explore, book a guide, and get started!

Hike the Narrows

people hiking through water under large rocks

Now hiking the Narrows is one of the best things to do in Zion, if not the very best.

If you enjoy being in the water, you’re never going to want to exit the waterfall-laced canyon you get to see as you glide through the blue water of the Virgin River.

Per the name, this is the narrowest canyon in Zion National Park. The Virgin River cuts through it at a gentle place, allowing visitors to explore deep into the canyon. 

The designated trail stops about a mile into the canyon, and you’re following the river from there on out, so don’t forget to bring shoes and clothes you can get wet.

You can start from the bottom up and once you’ve had enough of the thousand-foot canyon walls and refreshing water, head right back out the way you came.

If you want to experience the Narrows in its entirety, opt for the 16-mile hike that begins at Chamberlin’s Ranch, which is at the end of the trail.

This is a truly magical experience you won’t want to miss.

Obviously, Zion National Park has more than a variety of things to do for all visitors to enjoy.

Whether you’re trudging up the switchbacks to Angel’s Landing, driving through the highway tunnel, or riding horses through the park, you are guaranteed to see beauty like no other.

And now that we’ve narrowed down the best things to do in Zion, you’re all set to start your adventure.

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