One day in Zion National Park
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One Day in Zion National Park (20 Best Hikes And Things To Do In Zion National Park)

Only have one day in Zion National Park? Want to plan out your day with the best things to do in Zion National Park?  Want to include all of the best hikes in Zion National Park?

Awesome! You are in the right spot! Because I live in Utah, I usually head from Salt Lake City to Zion National Park whenever I get a chance. It is absolutely beautiful! It is my favorite Utah National Park. 

You might be wondering if a day in Zion National Park is enough.  Or if hiking the narrows is right for you. I am excited to answer all of your questions and provide you with the perfect Zion National Park itinerary.

In this post, we will provide you with the basics from admission costs to the weather in Zion National Park.  We will also list all of the best things to do in Zion National Park.  We will teach you all about the shuttle Zion National Park offers. Most important, I am excited to share my favorite easy hikes at Zion National Park.

Zion in one day is possible! And so worth it! Let's plan the perfect one-day in Zion National Park itinerary! 

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Directions to Zion National Park

Salt Lake City to Zion National Park Map
Las Vegas to Zion National Park Map

You might be wondering how to get to Zion National Park.  There are a few airports you can fly into.  The closest airport to Zion National Park is the small airport of St. George.  This will put you about 1 hour away from Zion National Park.  

Salt Lake City to Zion National Park

If you want to fly into a bigger airport you can fly into the Salt Lake City or Las Vegas airports. Salt Lake City to Zion National Park is the path I typically drive.  It is over 4.5 half-hour drive.  

If you are planning on visiting the best national parks in the USA by going a mighty 5 road trip, Salt Lake is a great place to start. You will be able to see Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Goblin Valley, and Capitol Reef National Park before you head down to Zion.  If you only want to visit Zion National Park and maybe Bryce Canyon Las Vegas might be a better option. 

If you want to visit all 5 Utah National Parks you could fly into Las Vegas and out of Salt Lake City or vice versa.

Las Vegas to Zion National Park

Las Vegas to Zion National Park is just under 3.5 half hour drive.  You can typically find better deals flying into Vegas.  The drive is not too bad at all! 

Best Time to Visit Zion National Park

Zion National Park Itinerary

I am going to let you on in a little secret….May!  May is the best time to visit Zion National Park.  I have been in all seasons and I prefer Spring in Utah! It is so green and beautiful! 

If you want to hike the narrows you might want to go in the summer when the water is warmer. Fall in Utah is also a great time to visit the Utah national parks.  September and October are great months to visit Zion. 

Weather in Zion National Park

If you like mild weather like me you will prefer April or May.  The weather is perfect. Not too hot or not too cold. I love the spring at Zion.  Zion National Park is one of the best places to visit in May.  It is very beautiful. 

The summer months are very hot! If you plan on visiting during these months you will have to get up very early to avoid the heat of the day.  

During the fall the temperatures are mild again.  You will be able to see the fall colors. It is a great time to visit. 

Crowd Levels at Zion National Park

During the Spring and Fall crowd levels will be lower.  Summer is the busiest time to visit.  I wouldn't let it scare you.  We have been a few times during the summer and we were still able to get a parking spot and never had trouble getting a shuttle bus.  

Accommodations and Cities Near Zion National Park

Lodging near Zion National Park

As you plan your trip to Zion National Park. One of the first things you will need to do is book accommodations.  If you are planning a summer trip you will need to book lodging near Zion National Park in advance.  There are lots of vacation homes in the area.

Camping in Zion National Park

Zion has 3 campsites near the park.  The South campsite and the Watchman campsites are the closest to the park. The Lava Point site is located over an hour away. 

There are tent sites available.  If you have an RV or want to rent an RV, you can also stay at these sites. 

You can book the Watchman campsite up to six months in advance.  The South and Lava Point campgrounds are available only a few weeks in advance.  

Glamping at Zion National Park

Glamping is what I like! There are lots of glamping resorts located near Zion. My favorite is the Ponderosa Resort.  There are cabins, covered wagons, and even vacation homes.  The pool is amazing!  

Resorts and Hotels

Located just outside the park entrance is one of the nicest Springhill Suites and Fairfield Inns around. These are perfect if you do not want to camp or glamp.  

Another great option is staying in St. George, especially if you only plan on spending one day in Zion National Park.  There are tons of VRBOs and Marriott now has vacation homes and villas available to rent. 

There are also lots of locally owned places to stay near the entrance.

Utah Insider Tip

You might not know this but most of northern Utah loves coming to St. George to play.  I know many many people who have second homes in St. George and rent out their places when they are not using them. It is a great place for a Utah family reunion. 

Zion National Park Hours and Admission

Admission to Zion National Park

Zion National Park Admission Fee

Each vehicle will be charged $35 dollars and will be given a 7-day pass to Zion National Park. 

If you are planning on visiting at least 2 national parks a National Park Pass is worth it.  If you have a 4th grader or are a senior citizen you are in luck because you can get a free or discounted pass.  

Zion National Park Hours

Zion National Park is open 24 hours a day every day of the year. However, the Zion National Park Visitor Center is only open 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.  (Closing hours can vary depending on the season.)

Parking at Zion National Park

Zion National Park Parking

Once you enter Zion National Park, you will drive to the Zion visitor center parking lot. During busy seasons this parking lot will fill up.  It is important to get to Zion early so you can get a spot.  

During the summer months, a lot of people will leave at midday.  You are more likely to get a spot in the morning and just after lunch.  

The parking lot is close to the visitor center and shuttle bus pick-up.  

Parking at Zion National Park is Full, OH NO!

If by chance you come and the parking lot is full don't worry.  You can park in Springdale and take a shuttle.  It does cost money to park in Springdale. 

Shuttle Zion National Park

Shuttle Zion National Park

The Zion National Park Shuttle is awesome! Once you arrive at the park you will park at the main visitor center, and from there you will be able to just jump on a shuttle. 

The shuttles only run from March – November.  Cars are not allowed in the park during this time.    

Don't Miss the Zion National Park Shuttle! 

The shuttle takes 45 minutes from the Zion visitor center to the last stop.  If you decide to ride to the last stop and back make sure you have enough time.  It is a total of 9 miles.  Don't miss the last shuttle or you may have to walk the entire 9 miles!!!!

Zion National Park Audio Tour

In the shuttle busses, there is a narration all about Zion National Park.  If you would like to purchase an audio tour so you can listen while you hike that is a great idea too! 

Stops on the Shuttle Zion National Park

Shuttle Zion National Park Stops

There are 9 stops.  At each stop, you will see a sign of what hikes are located at each stop.  On my last trip, I did my research and got off at every stop so I could help you plan this trip! 

 

Stop 1

  • Visitor Center
  • Pa'rus Trail
  • Archeological Trail 

Stop 2

  • Museum

Stop 3

  • Canyon Junction
  • Pa'rus Trail (Connects to Visitor Center)

Stop 4

  • Court of the Patriarchs Trail

Stop 5

  • Zion Lodge
  • Emerald Pool Trails
  • The Grotto Trail
  • Sand Beach Trail

Stop 6

  • The Grotto Trail
  • Angels Landing
  • West Rim Trail
  • Kayenta Trail

Stop 7

  • Weeping Rock

Stop 8 

  • Big Bend

Stop 9 

  • Temple of Sinawava
  • Riverside Walk
  • Narrows
My favorite stops are 5,6,7, and 9.  These are great areas to check out on your one day in Zion National Park. 

One Day in Zion National Park

One day in Zion National Park bridge

I want to answer a few questions so that your one day in Zion National Park will be as smooth as possible. 

Can you Drive a Car through Zion National Park?

During the months of March – November you are not allowed to drive where the shuttle busses run.  December – February you can drive a car at Zion National Park. 

How Many Days Do you Need at Zion National Park?

You can do a lot if you only have a day in Zion, but I would recommend 3-5 days if you plan on doing all the best things to do at Zion National Park.

Do you Need Reservations to Enter Zion National Park?

No, you do not need a reservation for Zion National Park.

What City is Closest to Zion National Park?

Springdale, Hurricane, St. George, and Cedar City are all the closest cities near Zion National Park. 

Okay, I think we have the basics out of the way.  Now it is time to plan a one day in Zion National Park itinerary.  We are going to give you an overview of the best hikes in Zion National Park.  

Best Hikes In Zion National Park

Hiking in Zion National Park - Narrows

The hikes at Zion National Park are amazing! I think if you have one day in Zion National Park you will have time to do at least 4 hikes.  

1 Day Zion National Park Itinerary

If you have 2 days in Zion National Park and want to create a 2 day Zion National Park itinerary you can add a few tours. 

2 Day Zion National Park Itinerary

If you have more than a day in Zion National Park consider renting bikes and exploring more. 

Planning a Zion National Park Itinerary

I think if I only had one day in Zion National Park, I would focus on the hikes.  If I had more time I would consider canyoneering, renting bikes, or a horseback ride.  A 2-day Zion National Park itinerary would add more time for activities.

I am going to list the most popular hikes and the easy hikes at Zion National Park and then continue with all the best things to do at Zion National Park.  

1. Angels Landing

Miles: 5.4

Difficulty: Intense

Angels Landing Elevation Gain: 1640ft

Angels Landing Hike

The Angels Landing hike is the most popular hike in Zion National Park.  It is absolutely beautiful.  Angels Landing is not for beginner hikers.  It is strenuous and dangerous.  Kids should not go on this hike (baby backpacks included.) 

The photographs that you can get at the top of this hike are unbelievable. It is so gorgeous! 

Angel Landing Permits

You may have heard of the Angel Landing chains, this is an area where only one person can ascend and descend as they hold on to a chain.  For this reason, an Angel Landing permit is required.  Too many people on this trail is not good.  

Park Rangers can ask for your permit at any time during the hike.  They will monitor the path. 

Angels Landing Chicken

The Angels Landing hike is one of the most dangerous hikes in the United States. At least 20 people have died attempting it.  I am a BIG CHICKEN!   I will not attempt this hike anytime soon! 

2. Hiking the Narrows

Hiking the Narrows - Zion National Park

Miles: 2-10 

Difficulty: easy-moderate

Elevation Gain: 0ft

Hiking the Narrows

The Narrows is a fun hike for ages 6+.  The first mile is a paved trail.  Once you reach the Virgin River you will continue the hike in the river.  It is fun but you have to come prepared.  

The first time we went we had a baby and a 3-year-old.  It would have been way too hard to enter the river and hike.  We only did the paved portion of the hike.  

Our youngest is now 7, so on our last trip, we attempted it again.  It was so much fun! The water was deeper in some areas but we were pretty careful and didn't get too wet.  We saw some adults drop down and get wet up to their necks.

Come Prepared to Hike the Narrows

You will want to have water hiking shoes.  I had water shoes, but the ones you would wear on the beach and they were okay.  It was really rocky so they were not perfect, but they did the job.  A better shoe to get would be Keens.  This has a harder sole but can still get wet.  

We wore our normal hiking shoes to walk the first mile.  Once we reached the river we changed into our water shoes.  Make sure to bring a good waterproof backpack to hold all of your shoes.  Many people just leave their shoes on the bank of the river.  

Watch the Weather at Zion National Park for Hiking the Narrows

Flash floods are common in Southern Utah.  You do not want to be in a canyon.  The waters can come through fast and furious.  If there is a chance of rain, hiking the narrows is not the best idea. 

3. Emerald Pools Trail Upper, Middle, and Lower

Hiking in Zion - Emerald Pools

Miles to Lower Pool: 1.2 round trip

Miles to Middle Pool: 2 round trip

Miles to Upper Pool: 2.5 round trip

Difficulty: Easy 

Elevation Gain: 80 – 360ft

Emerald Pools Trail

Hiking the Lower Emerald pool is an easy Zion National Park hike!  The middle pool is also an easy Zion National Park hike.  The upper pool is a little harder. The Emerald Pools hike at Zion National Park is one of my favorites!  

The Emerald Pool trail takes about 1 to 2 hours to complete.  

4. Weeping Rock

Weeping Rock Trail

Miles: .4

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: 0ft

Weeping Rock Trail

Weeping rock trail has been closed for almost 3 years but just recently opened up again.  This is one of the best easy hikes at Zion National Park.  It is not even half a mile.  It is one of the best hikes at Zion National park for kids. 

What is great about weeping rock is that it is a rock that cries! Seriously, Water seeps through the rock.  The Navajo sandstone layer is porous which allows water to seep out making the rock appear like it is crying.  

East Rim Trail

Right next to the weeping rock was the East Rim Observation trail.  It is closed because a large rock fell on the path.  This hike was unbelievable.  It was so beautiful and intense.   

 

5. Pa'rus Trail

Pa'rus trail easy hike at Zion National Park

Miles: 3.2 out-n-back

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: 116ft

Pa'rus Trail

This easy hike at Zion National Park connects the visitor center and the museum. It is a great place for watching the sunset and for star gazing.  

It isn't the most popular hike at Zion, but it is nice if you want to walk along the Virgin River and check out the Watchman campground. 

6. The Grotto Hike

Grotto easy hike at Zion National Park

Miles: 1.0 round-trip

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: 0ft

The Grotto Hike

The Grotto hike is more of a leisurely walk hike.  It is shaded and has a nice paved path to follow.  It connects the Zion Lodge and the Grotto picnic area.  

Easy Zion National Park Hikes

The hikes I mentioned are my favorite easy hikes in Zion.  There are a few more hikes at Zion if you want to explore those. Let's move on to the activities at Zion National Park! 

Things to Do at Zion National Park

Zion National Park Itinerary

Hiking at Zion is great but there are a few other options of fun things to do at Zion National Park besides hiking! 

I am going to list all of the best things to do at Zion National Park.  This will get those wheels turning, so you can decide how you want to spend your time.  

7. Zion National Park Visitor Center

Zion National Park Visitor Center

The Zion National Park Visitor Center is probably the first place you will visit.  The visitor center is where you can ask park rangers questions. 

You can also get your kids a junior ranger book so they can earn a park badge.  This is a really fun program that makes national parks fun for kids. 

Zion National Park Itinerary

If you only have one day in Zion National Park, stop by the visitor center to ask some questions to help guide you as you plan out your Zion National Park itinerary.  The visitor center usually opens around 8:00 am and closes between 5-7 pm depending on the season. 

8. Visit the Zion Human History Museum

One day in Zion National Park Sign

The Zion Human History Museum has some great exhibits based on the humans that lived in the area and how water has affected the area. 

If you are really hot and need a break, this is a great place to stop.  You will have to check to see if it is open the day you go.  Sometimes this museum is closed. 

9. Hiking in Zion National Park

Zion National Park 1 Day Itinerary Hiking

We already talked about all the amazing hikes. You know the duration and intensity of each and which ones are the most popular.  

One Day in Zion National Park – Hiking

Hiking at Zion is one of the best things to do at Zion.  If you only have one day in Zion National Park hiking is probably your best option.  

The shuttle Zion National Park offers is amazing because it will drop you off at the start of each trailhead. 

10. Canyoneering in Zions

Canyoneering in Zion National Park

Canyoneering at Zion National Park is the best in the world.  In fact, you will hear more languages at Zion National Park because people travel from all over the world come to cannoneer at Zions. 

Book a Zion Canyoneering Tour

If you want to book a Canyoneering tour and give it a try, you should.  Go with a professional guide. This is an opportunity of a lifetime.  There are lots of different options and areas where you can go.  

If this doesn't sound exciting you can just watch from the sidelines! 

11. Horseback Riding in Zion

Horseback riding in Zion

One of the best things to do at Zion National Park is horseback ride.  There are lots of private horseback tours you can book.  Within Zion National Park there is a horse ranch.

Book A Horseback Ride

You will probably want to book a horseback ride in advance.  This is a beautiful ride in Zion National Park. Prices range from $50 and up depending on how long of ride you would like. 

12. Bike Zion National Park

Biking in Zion National Park

Forget the shuttle, rent a ebike! It is a 9-mile ride if you are following the same path the shuttle takes. You can bike along the road and take in the scenery.  

There are places where you can lock your bike as you hike near the shuttle stops.  If you get tired don't worry. The shuttles also have bike storage racks you can use and get a ride where ever you want to go. 

If you love to bike this might be the way to spend one day in Zion National Park! 

13. Finding Petroglyphs at Zion National Park

Petroglyphs at Zion National Park

Petroglyphs can be found all over southern Utah. If you want to book a hiking guide that will take you to all of these locations, they are available.

Petroglyph Canyon Trail 

You will most likely find these along the Petroglyph Canyon trail.  This hike is a short .6 mile hike at the front of Zion National Park. 

 

14. Have a Picnic at Zion National Park

Picnic in Zion National Park Itinerary

If you plan ahead you can bring supplies for a picnic.  I usually like to bring chips and Peanut Butter and Jelly.  

Time to Refuel 

There are picnic tables located near the Zion Lodge at shuttle stop number 5. This is a great place to rest and have a snack or picnic lunch.  You can also hike on the Grotto trail where you will find picnic tables. 

You need to be sure to bring enough to refuel after all of your hiking.

15. Star-Gazing Zion National Park

Dark Sky Zion National Parks

Utah has many International Dark Sky national parks.  Zion National Park has some of the finest dark skies in the World. Star gazing is a must! 

Book a Star Gazing Tour

You can book a tour of the best places to see the stars or just look out at the night sky and take it all in!  

It is truly amazing to see the night sky in this area.  

16. Zion National Park Jeep Tour

One Day in Zion National Park - jeep tour

One of the best Zion National park activities is to book a jeep tour.  These tours are not allowed inside Zion National Park.  They will take you to areas outside of the park. 

You will still get to amazing views, wildlife, and hit some awesome off-road trails.  We went on an off-road tour in Moab and loved it.  Jeep tours are a lot of fun! 

17. Helicopter Ride over Zion National Park

Day trip to Zion National Park

Want an aerial view of Zion National Park? Book a helicopter tour! 

Zions National Park from the air is breathtaking.  There are lots of different options: 35 min, 55 mins, and more.  

I love seeing things from a new perspective! One thing to keep in mind, the weather changes all the time, and flying in the canyon is tricky.  Be sure to watch weather reports and don't be sad if the tour gets canceled.  It is for your own safety.  

18. Photography Tour in Zion National Park

Best photos at Zion National Park

Zion National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in America.  If you love photography and want to know where the best places to get the best shots are, booking a photography tour is perfect. 

Some of these tours take you on the Narrows hike.  I would not want to do that hike with my fancy Nikon Camera.  I would be afraid of tripping and falling into the water.  Using your phone might be a good option.  I love using waterproof phone protectors. 

A day in Zion National Park will allow you to capture the best shots. Honestly, once you get at the top of some of these hikes, it is hard not to get a great shot! 

19. Camping in Zion National Park

camping in Zion National Park

One of the best things to do at Zion National Park is camp.  If you love to RV or tent camp, this is a great area for it. 

Campsites

I mentioned above about all the different campsites available in the area.  Cooking on a campfire and gazing at the stars is unforgettable!

Weather at Zion is an important factor. Be sure to check the conditions before you arrive. 

20. Watch the Sunset

One day in Zion National park Sunset

What better way to end your one day in Zion National park than viewing the sunset?

It is actually such a popular thing to do in Zion that there are many tours dedicated to this beautiful moment. 

Any of these tours would be fun to end a day in Zion National Park.

Are you Ready for your One Day in Zion National Park?

Zion National Park itinerary

Hopefully, you have a lot of choices so you can plan the perfect Zion National Park itinerary.  Your one day in Zion will be full of fun adventures because there are so many awesome things to do in Zion National Park. 

I hope you go on some of the easy hikes in Zion National Park and at least one of the most popular hikes in Zion.  (Angels Landing or the Narrows)  Zion National Park is one of the best West Coast National Parks

Enjoy your one day in Zion National Park! 

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18 Comments

  1. After reading your post, it looks like I need more than one day in Zion National Park! It looks absolutely beautiful! Would you say that most of these activities are kid-friendly, within reason?

  2. I loved this information on how to spend one day in Zion National Park! My friends were there last summer and said it is a must visit, so I fully intend to in the next few months….and this will help me know exactly what to see and do!

  3. Love the idea of using the shuttle if you only have one day in Zion National Park. A Great way to see as much of the park as possible.

  4. We visited Zion National Park last summer for the first time, and we loved it! We stayed two nights at Zion Park Motel in Springdale. On our full day, we hiked The Narrows. Though we couldn’t drive through the park in summer, we also had fun driving around the rim and through the tunnel. Good memories!

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