Day Trip To Zion National Park – Zion is in our top three national parks in the United States. It’s like nowhere else on earth and truly deserves a high spot on your American bucket list.
If you only have one day to watch it, then we’re going to make sure you make the most of it. This incredible park centers around a deep red canyon with spectacular views and is home to some of the best hikes in all of Utah.
Day Trip To Zion National Park
Our one-day Zion itinerary will ensure you don’t miss a single highlight. We are dividing the post into two parts, one for the avid hikers and the other for those who are more interested in the scenery and don’t want to embark on any strenuous trek.
The Essential Zion National Park Travel Guide
Zion has a shuttle system that everyone has to use (unless it’s winter when restrictions are reduced), and it gets seriously busy! Getting a space in the parking lot is impossible after sunrise during peak season, and even though they run every five minutes, the lines for the shuttle can be incredibly long.
During peak season (school summer holidays) and generally honest summer, it looks a lot like Disneyland, and it can make for a less magical experience. Try to avoid the peak season if you can, and if you don’t mind the cold, then winter will reward you with very few people.
You can’t see much in Zion without walking, but fear not, because the trails we recommend are easy, relatively short, and flat.
Zion is all about the scenery and there are many spectacular ones that don’t require breaking the guts to reach. While there are fewer views than many US national parks, you won’t come up short on epic vistas. It’s also a joy to ride the bus shuttle and see the canyon walls going above you.
Zion To Bryce Canyon: Itinerary For 1, 2, Or 3 Days (+map & Tips)
The best way to start your day in Zion is to take the Paras Trail – a short walk along the river that starts at the visitor center.
The whole route is a mile and a half but you only need to walk for 5-10 minutes to experience the beauty around these big red mountains.
The path is paved, so it is accessible to all. If you want to walk the full half mile and then take the shuttle to your next destination, you don’t have to walk back.
Alternatively, just walk a short distance along the trail and then return to take the shuttle from the Visitor Center.
How To Spend An Unforgettable 2 Days In Zion National Park
Because of the crowds, Zion operates a shuttle system for most of the year. It’s a great way to see the park and also learn more about Zion. We initially saw the shuttle as a means of transportation to the trailheads but actually enjoyed it in its own right.
The audio commentary tells you about the geology and history of the area as well as about Zion from a Native American perspective.
Another easy, but beautiful hike is to the Lower Emerald Pool. This short trail takes you to the foot of the waterfall and a beautiful emerald pool.
We did it in winter when the whole landscape was covered in snow and it was incredibly beautiful. The walk is almost completely flat and is only 0.7 miles to the Emerald Pool at the end of the track.
Zion In One Day
Continue on the shuttle from the Emerald Pool to the very end of the road at Temple Sinawawa. This not only allows you to see all of Zion Canyon but also provides another short and easy route to the start of the famous Narrows hike. The narrow valley walls tower above you and the scenery is incredibly dramatic.
This track starts where the road stops, and takes you further into the canyon. The entire walking path is paved and, as the name suggests, follows the river until you can walk on land!
The end of this trail is the beginning of the Narrows – a water hike through the Vine to the Virgin River. Even if you don’t think you’ll be doing this trip yourself, it’s fun to watch people embark on their adventure. You can also go for a short paddle in the water to walk through it for a short distance to get the experience. The beginning of the river is relatively calm and it is a lot of fun to finish the paved path and then go against all instincts and go into the water.
If you go to the very end of the Riverside Track, the walk is 1.1 miles each way, but you can turn back at any point if you don’t want to walk the whole way. It’s still worth coming out so you’ve seen the whole canyon.
Planning A Trip To Zion National Park
This is probably the most popular spot in all of Zion for sunset. It is so revered by photographers that it can be difficult to get a parking spot (it’s just before the corner section where the mandatory shuttle service enters)!
When you get there it’s easy to see why, the view is amazing. The Virgin River and the outpost behind it look incredibly dramatic. There’s no walking involved so it’s an easy win to round out an epic day in Zion.
If you’re up for a shorter hike, then the best way to end the day is at the Canyon Overlook. This 1.5 mile round trip is a little more challenging than some of the other hikes on our trip because of some tight corners, but most people will find it just fine, and the reward in the end is more than worth it!
All along the trail, the views are spectacular, and then at the end you’ll be greeted by one of the best views in the entire park.
The Best 2 Day Zion National Park Itinerary · Le Travel Style
The view from Canyon Overlook is straight across the valley, and with several photogenic switchbacks above the road. If you arrive at the right time, you will arrive just as the sun is descending from the surrounding mountains and the light is perfect.
In winter, we saw some deer on this trail which made the experience even more special. Note that this is a great sunrise spot if you don’t mind being in Zion incredibly early.
The truth is that if you are a hiker, you will be pushed to do all the best trails in one day, but if you are beautiful you can do two! There are so many incredible trails that one day in Zion doesn’t really do it justice, but if there’s one day you can spare, then we’ve put together a great itinerary for you.
Book up, because the day is really full! This is done in the summer because of the extra hours of daylight, but it will still be a tiring day.
Zion In A Day — Drive. Hike. Repeat
Unless you’re really fit (ie it would be too much for us and we love hiking!) then do two of the three hikes. We have included three because not everyone will be able to visit Nauru depending on the season you visit and the weather of the day.
The Narrows is one of the most spectacular hikes in the Southwest and is instantly recognizable – you’ve seen it in many photos. This epic trail winds through the river, deep in the narrow gorge and is an unforgettable experience.
It’s slow as you go against the flow of the river until you turn back. However, you will find your jaw dropping throughout the trip, especially as the canyon gets narrower and longer.
Since you only have one day we recommend walking the two miles by the river (that’s in addition to the mile it takes to get to the river) until you reach the most dramatic and spectacular section known as Wall Street. reach out This is the part where the walk goes from beautiful to absolutely mind-blowing.
Best Zion National Park Day Trips From Las Vegas
If you go to Wall Street you have to make a six mile round trip, you might think that doesn’t sound like much but it’s a lot slower when you have to walk through water.
The key to safely enjoying Angels Landing is to avoid the crowds (and avoid the snow!), and the best time to do this is late at night. You want to avoid the afternoon and evening rush, as well as the sunrise rush from people who want to miss the afternoon rush! Few people go late in the evening.
This incredible trail isn’t very long, but you’ll want to allow 2 – 3 hours to hike this 5.5 mile hike. The trail is beautiful from the start and begins to gradually ascend before you reach two series of switchbacks that are slightly steeper. There is a little flat walk in between to get your breath back.
Then you’ll reach Scout Lookout (which has great views and is well worth the hike even if you don’t want to hike the infamous chain link section).
Zion National Park Itinerary: Your Guide To The Best Hikes In Zion
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