Located in the southwestern corner of Utah some 300 miles from Salt Lake City, Zion National Park is one of the most spectacular natural attractions not just within the state, but across the country too. Celebrated for its breathtaking backdrops, sweeping views, and dramatic natural landscapes, this 146,597-acre national park is a genuine sight to behold.
With so many different activities, amenities, and things to do in Zion National Park, it’s truly a bucket-list destination for adventure lovers, geology and history enthusiasts, and thrill-seekers alike.
One could spend what would feel like a lifetime taking in all of what this national park has to offer. But for those who don’t necessarily have that much time to spare, our guide to our top four things to do in Zion National Park is here to help you plan your next trip.
Hiking is perhaps the most popular thing to do in Zion National Park, with millions of visitors choosing to take in the scenes and natural beauty of the park at their own pace on foot each year.
Most of the popular trails in Zion National Park are located within Zion Canyon, a 15-mile-long canyon that descends down to 2,640 feet deep. Here, you’ll find revered trails like Angels Landing Trail, Emerald Pools Trail, and Zion Canyon Overlook Trail.
Whatever your hiking ability and comfort levels are, Zion National Park will be able to accommodate you, with trails ranging from paved, half-mile routes to multi-day backpacking excursions. Whichever trail you choose to explore, it’s always worth noting that more narrow canyons and routes should be avoided when the chances of rain exist, as flash flooding is one of the biggest dangers to hikers in Zion National Park.
Don’t feel like exploring the canyons on foot? Then plan your route out on horseback! With many of Zion National Park’s most beloved trails easily accessible to equestrians (apart from those within Zion Canyon), you’ll be able to enjoy the sights, sounds, and surroundings of the national park from the comfort of a saddle.
Between the Sand Bench Trail, Virgin River Ride, and many more, local guides and horseback tours are available all year in specific areas of Zion National Park. Whether you’re touring through the park with a group, guide, or on your own, there are many opportunities for those on horseback to explore the vast forests, rivers, canyons, and impressive atmosphere of the national park.
One of the most spectacular things to do in Zion National Park, or almost anywhere in Utah, is to set up camp on a clear evening and fall asleep under the magical array of stars and solar systems. And with Zion National Park’s arid, desert-like climate offering the perfect atmosphere for stargazing, camping here overnight is a truly special experience.
With multiple different campgrounds to choose from within Zion National Park, there are plenty of opportunities for you to fully immerse yourself with the site’s ecosystem and natural surroundings.
Watchman Campground is the largest and usually the busiest campground within Zion National Park, with almost 200 individual campsites available for reservation all year round. South Campground is a good alternative, which has about 127 shaded campsites, although they cannot be reserved ahead of time and are only available from March through to October.
The most secluded and base-level campground is Lava Point Campground, with just six available sites that don’t have running water and are not available to reserve.
During Utah’s scorching hot summer months, one of the most refreshing and satisfying things to do in Zion National Park is to go for a swim. While many of the rivers within Zion Canyon are often too swift and powerful to safely swim in, there are lots of surrounding ponds, waterfalls, and swimming holes in the Zion area that are ideal for taking a quick dip in.
Keep an eye out for those secret little spots ideal for swimming during your hikes, like Pine Creek Waterfall. This hidden-away little swimming hole is kept hush-hush among those who know about it and does require maneuvering over some slippery stones and rockfaces to get to.
This special, secluded swim spot is open all year round, does not require a permit, and is most definitely one of the most refreshing things to do in Zion National Park.
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