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Zion National Park in spring is an underrated gem of the national park system. Unlike the scorching, crowded summer, spring is a perfect time to visit Zion National Park. Though we’ve visited Zion in every season, spring is truly one of the most breathtaking.
From the tender new leaves of the cottonwood trees to the bright blooming wildflowers and the glimmering seasonal waterfalls, spring in Zion National Park is certainly a sight for sore eyes.
In this article, we’ll count down our top picks for visiting Zion National Park in spring, as well as our top things to do and best suggestions to ensure your spring trip is as beautiful as the wildflowers.
Why visit Zion National Park in spring?
Zion National Park, like the rest of southern Utah, is in a desert ecosystem—and one thing about deserts is they’re hot. Like, really hot. And, to make matters worse, of all the desert parks of southern Utah, Zion is at the lowest overall elevation.
While parks like Bryce Canyon or Arches are at a higher elevation, Zion has the lowest elevation of any of Utah’s majestic parks. That means it’ll be the hottest, with temperatures as spectacularly high as 95°F during the summer.
If you don’t want to be hiking in a giant barbecue grill, you might want to visit during the spring.
Visiting Zion national park in spring, in particular, has its own set of special surprises. From the glittering seasonal waterfalls to the delicate little wildflowers just peeking out, spring in Zion National Park can’t be missed.
Spring in Zion National Park Packing List
Zion National Park in spring is more mild compared to many other parks in Utah. Zion sees comparatively little snow, and temperatures warm up quickly, with an average high of 73 in April.
Pack summery hiking clothes, and make sure to bring layers for chillier mornings and evenings. Also, remember to pack good-soled hiking boots to cushion your toesies and prevent injury. A hiking pole can save your joints and save you from falls as you go over rough terrain.
Go on one of the best Zion National Park spring hikes
There are a variety of great hikes in Zion during the springtime. Here are some of our recommendations!
Emerald Pools. This series of shaded, jewel-like (it’s right there in their name, after all) pools provide a glorious hike at any time of the ear. But it only gets better in spring, as the waterfalls are at their peak, and the hanging gardens that surround them are their loveliest, most vibrant green.
The pools are nicely graded in terms of difficulty—the Lower Pool, with its giant weeping wall and grotto, is the easiest to reach, the least-spectacular middle pool a little more difficult to reach, and the Upper Pool the most strenuous and exposed—but also the most scenic—of the lot. Bring water and sun protection, even in spring.
Zion Canyon Overlook. This trail starts right outside the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel is a moderate, half-mile (one-way) trail that ascends to a spectacular view of Zion Canyon.
It’s a beautiful trail any time of year, but especially so in the spring—the temperatures are less extreme, you can see the glittering spray of seasonal waterfalls in the canyon, and you might even spot a baby bighorn sheep.
The trail can be muddy in places, especially in spring, and the cliffs quite steep—bring hiking poles and shoes with good tread, or risk becoming a statistic. Watch children carefully.
Riverside Walk. You won’t be able to hike The Narrows in the spring, but you can still walk to their entrance on this majestic and easy 1-mile round-trip trail and see the start of the massive gorge.
The Riverside Walk trail only gets better in the spring, as you can see flowers blooming along the lush banks of the Virgin River and the beautiful, much-photographed waterfall of the Temple of Sinawava.
Drive Zion-Mount Carmel Highway Scenic Drive
Imagine you’re in a dark tunnel. Through the rock windows beside you, you can see a tantalizing glimpse of the outside. Then, without warning, you burst out into a glorious display—the emerald green canyon below you, the majestic rose-red canyon walls reaching towards the sky beside you, and the deep blue sky above. You’ll feel like you’re flying.
This gorgeous highway is the easiest way to reach Zion Canyon from the east and is certainly worth the drive. You’ll see the massive Kolob Arch, one of the largest arches in the world. This drive is certainly a must-do not just in the springtime but at any time of the year.
Visit Kolob Terrace
Zion’s other main overlook is somehow even more scenic than the main canyon. The rose-red soaring fingers of stone that form the Kolob Terrace Overlook are certainly a sight for sore eyes. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.
There’s no easy access to Kolob Tolob Terrace from Springdale, the main hub for Zion Canyon; you have to drive a fair bit up I-15 to get to it. Plan on making it a day trip if you’re staying in Springdale (which most visitors do), so pack a lunch, which leads you directly to our next suggestion….
The main picnic spots in the park are on the Grotto trail, at the visitor center, and at Kolob Canyons, but obviously, no one is going to stop you from bringing a snack on any trail you want. Just make sure animals don’t steal food.
The Zion Visitor Center is great for learning about the history of the park. You’ll see how the canyon was formed and learn a little about the first settlers in Zion, both Native and Euro-American.
The visitor center is also where you’ll find search and rescue services and can get permits to hike Angel’s Landing or the Subway or kayak the Narrows (NOT to be done by an inexperienced kayaker; you will have to contend with Class 5 rapids. If you don’t know what Class 5 rapids are, you can’t kayak the Narrows. Stay home.)
There’s nothing quite like sleeping under the stars, and you’ll be able to sleep right in the midst of Zion Canyon so you can get right to the action in the morning. There are two campgrounds in Zion Canyon, Watchman, and South, plus the less-developed Lava Creek Campground in the Kolob Terrace district (closed during the winter, check ahead).
🏕️ You can read more about camping in Zion here. 🏕️
Zion National Park is gifted with beautifully clear skies. The skies here aren’t as good as they are in neighboring Bryce Canyon or Canyonlands; situated in the southwest corner of Utah as it is, it’s close enough for light pollution from the dazzling metropolis that is Vegas to creep in.
That said, stargazing is still worth it, and you’ll get to see the massive rock outcroppings silhouetted against the stars. In spring, you can see the constellations of Hercules, Ursa Major, Bootes, and Cancer.
Sunrise or sunset in Zion National Park is always beautiful, as you can watch the rays of the sun slowly creep down (or recede from!) the fronts of the giant sandstone monoliths to the shadowed valley floor below.
One of the best places to catch the sunrise is from Kolob Terrace or the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel; because those overlooks are either halfway up or outside of the valley entirely, you’ll get to spend more time in the sun and get a better view.
Tips for Visiting Zion During Springtime
We’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating. Zion National Park is fairly unique in America’s National Park system in that you’re not allowed to drive on the main road.
Except for a few months during the winter, no cars are allowed on Zion National Park’s main drive. If you get done with your hike after the last shuttle leaves, you’ll have to walk back to the visitor center in the dark. Be prepared, and make sure you know the times in advance.
Following up on the last tip, plan on getting to the park early. Not only will you have enough time to see everything you want to, but you’ll also beat the heat—and the other tourists.
Pack microspikes & hiking poles, just in case!
Zion National Park doesn’t see much snow, but, just in case, it’s better to have microspikes and hiking poles and not need them than it is to need them and not have them. And, of course, a good, sturdy hiking stick will do you wonders at any time of the year.
Zion National Park in spring can be remarkably chilly in the morning yet still warm in the afternoon. The solution? Layers.
Wondering where to stay near Zion? Here are some great recommendations.
It’s a LaQuinta—you know what you’re getting. The hotel has a fitness center, pool, and all the trappings of a large modern chain hotel. Rooms start at $69 a night.
89 & Nine is much, much nicer than it looks. Not many hotels at this price point come with a refrigerator in each room, free WiFi, and, oh yeah—clean rooms. You can get a suite for under $100.
You can expect to be pampered at this lush hotel in “downtown” Springdale. Each of the spacious, lush townhouses features its own private balcony and backs up to the verdant Virgin River. At night, you’ll sleep in their ridiculously lush bedding. Rooms start at a pricey $350 to stay at the Desert Pearl Inn.
Final Thoughts: Springtime in Zion
Zion National Park in spring is a truly unique experience. The vibrant colors of the landscape, combined with the mild temperatures and lack of crowds, make this season an ideal time to visit.
From majestic hikes to breathtaking views, there are plenty of adventures to explore. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful weekend or a wild journey, Zion in spring is sure to provide something for everyone.
FAQs: Zion National Park in Spring
There are more than 20 waterfalls in Zion National Park. You can find a number of them along the Narrows.
The best way to reach Zion National Park is by car. Alternatively, park in Springdale and take a shuttle bus.
Keep reading more about Zion National Park:
- 6 Incredible Springdale Utah Bed and Breakfast Accommodations
- Camping in Zion National Park: Campgrounds, Tips, & More!
- 12 Best Spots for Glamping Near Zion National Park
- 9 Best Photo Spots in Zion National Park
- When is the Best Time to Visit Zion National Park?
- 13 Best Things to do in Zion National Park
- How to Have an Adventurous One Day in Zion National Park
- 15 Best National Parks to Visit in April