Zion National Park Guide…

Everything You Need To Know

To see the beauty and magnificence of Zion National Park we must turn our eyes skyward unlike at Grand Canyon National Park whose Grandeur is deep within a canyon.

Her buttes and temples tower above us, her courts and sacrificial altars burn red as they catch the first rays of the early morning sun.

Zion, in Biblical times, was emblematic of the house of God.

In today’s more modern context, Zion is considered a sanctuary, a place of peace and refuge; an apt name for this 229 square mile park located in the extreme southwestern corner of Utah.

Zion National Park  Area Map

Map: Courtesy Zion National Park Service

Getting There

Zion National Park is located on State Route 9 in Springdale, Utah.

Regional Airports

Saint George, Utah (49 miles) has flights from Salt Lake City, Utah and Los Angeles, California.

Cedar City, Utah (60 miles) has flights from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Operating Hours & Seasons

Zion National Park is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Some services and facilities may close or reduce hours during parts of the year.

Books and Maps about Zion may be purchased at the Visitor Center, or you may purchase them through Amazon.com by clicking the link below.  

Zion National Park

Entrance Fees

A non-transferable recreational use pass, which is also valid at nearby Kolob Canyon, must be purchased to enter the park.

The pass is valid for 7 consecutive days including the date of purchase.

Credit Cards accepted at all fee collection areas.

• Private Vehicle: $25.

Admits private, non-commercial vehicle (14 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants.

• Bicycles, Hikers and Motorcycles: $12.

Admits one individual on a private, non-commercial motorcycle.

Any passengers pay the per person fee not to exceed the private vehicle fee of $25.

Youth 15 and under are admitted free.

Zion National Park

Gateway to the Narrows

Annual and Lifetime Passes

All Lifetime Passes, as well as the Zion Annual Pass and Interagency Annual, are accepted.

Click Here to learn more about them.

Weather and Climate

Zion National Park is located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions.

Its lowest elevation is 3,666 ft at Coalpits Wash and its highest elevation is 8,726 ft at Horse Ranch Mountain.

As a result of its location and the vast difference in elevation, day and night temperatures may differ by over 30°F.

For a more thorough and comprehesive look at the Zion's weather, Click Here.

Zion Lodge Video (8:49)

Zion Lodge

The Zion Lodge, the only lodging within the Park, was designed by Union Pacific Railroad architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood in the 1920s.

In 1966, it was destroyed by fire and quickly rebuilt in an amazing 100 days; sacrificing rustic beauty for the expediency of reopening to the visiting public.

In 1990, more than twenty years later, the lodge’s exterior was restored to its original natural stone and timber architecture.

Today, the lodge offers:

• 76 Hotel Rooms
• 6 Suites
• 40 Cabins
• Red Rock Grill – indoor dining with spectacular views
• Castle Dome Café – relaxed outdoor dining

The lodge is open year-round, with special winter rates and packages offered in December through mid-March.

Zion Lodge is operated by park concessionaire, Xanterra Parks & Resorts.

Information and/or Reservations

For more information and to check availability of lodging in Springdale, Utah, including the Zion Lodge, use the Search Box to the right.

This is not a booking agency. It is a search engine, powered by Hotels Combined, to help you find the best accomodations at the best price.

Zion National Park Sjhuttle Buses

Photo: Courtesy Zion National Park Service

Shuttle Buses

In 1997, the increasing number of visitors and vehicles to Zion, like many other National Parks in the United States, was beginning to overwhelm the infrastructure.

A free shuttle system was initiated as a way to eliminate traffic and parking problems, ease pollution and provide a more tranquil environment.

Today, the shuttle bus service operates within the park as well as between the park and Springdale.

The Springdale Shuttle stops at six locations in Springdale, and the Zion Canyon Shuttle stops at eight locations in the park.

The transfer between loops is made at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.

All the shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible and have bicycle racks for bikers.

To see or download a copy of the schedule, Click Here.

Side Bar

The average wait for a shuttle bus is fifteen minutes or less.

The wait is longer in the morning and evening, but shorter during peak hours.

In November, an optional Zion Canyon Shuttle will operate each Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, with expanded service during Thanksgiving weekend.

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The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel

The tunnel, and Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, was built to allow direct access to Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon from Zion National Park.

Construction began in the late 1920’s and was completed in 1930.

At the time, it was the longest tunnel of its type in the United States.

The tunnel could adequately handle the vehicles of the 1930’s, but by 1989 the size of some vehicles had grown to the point where they could not adequately negotiate the curves in the tunnel without crossing over the center line.

The result was an increase in traffic accidents within the tunnel.

In the spring of 1989, the National Park Service began traffic control ("Escorts") at the tunnel.

Today, Rangers posted at both ends of the tunnel, convert two-way tunnel traffic to one-way traffic for larger vehicles.

For this service, a $15 dollar tunnel permit fee is charged.

Stunted Ponderosa Pine

Obtaining a Tunnel Permit

When visitors driving a larger vehicle arrive at the entrance station at the park, the vehicle is measured.

Any vehicle that is 7 feet 10 inches (2.4 meters) in width and/or 11 feet 4 inches (3.4 meters) in height or larger is required to have a tunnel permit.

The charge for this permit is $15 and is good for two trips through the tunnel for the same vehicle within seven days of purchase.

Prohibited Vehicles

• Vehicles over 13 feet 1 inch tall
• Semi-trucks
• Vehicles carrying hazardous materials
• Vehicles weighing more than 50,000 pounds
• Single vehicles over 40 feet long
• Combined vehicles over 50 feet long
• All Bicycles and Pedestrians

Zion National Park The Watchman and Virgin River

The Watchman and Virgin River

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

From March 30, 2013 through the end of October 2013 access to the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive will be by shuttle bus only.

From October 29 through March 29, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is open to private vehicles.

Registered guests at Zion Lodge are allowed to drive non-stop to the lodge.


Watchman Campground

Located ¼ mile from the South Entrance.

• 162 regular sites
• 2 wheelchair accessible sites
• 7 Group Sites
• Each site has a picnic table and fire pit with attached grill
• $16 per night
• $18 per night with electrical hook-ups
• $20 per night for river sites
• Pets are allowed on a leash no longer than six feet.


Reservation are accepted from March 3, 2012 through November 25, 2012 and should be made up to six months in advance.

877- 444-6777

Side Bar

Generators are not permitted, but 95 campsites have electrical hookups. Reserve an electric campsite if you need power.

There are no full-hookup campsites; a dump station is available for campers.

There are 69 campsites that are for tents only. No other types of camping equipment, including camper vans, pop-up campers, or cabover campers, are allowed in the tent only campsites.

There are 9 Tent Only, Walk-to campsites. These sites are a short walking distance from vehicle parking and are ideal for bicyclists.

Comfort stations provide flush toilets, cold running drinkable water, and trash containers, but no showers or electrical outlets.

Owners of an Interagency Senior or Access or a Golden Age or Access Pass receive a 50% discount on camping fees.

To download a Map and Watchman Campground Regulations, Click Here.

Tamarisk Zion National Park

Tamarisk or Salt Cedar

South Campground

Located ½ mile from the South Entrance.

• 127 Sites (including three wheelchair accessible)
• No hook-ups
• $16 per night
• First-come, first served
• Pets are allowed on a leash no longer than six feet.
• A dump station is available for campers

For South Campground Regulations and Map, Click Here.

Side Bar

Generators are allowed from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Comfort stations provide flush toilets, cold running drinkable water, and trash containers, but no showers or electrical outlets.

Owners of an Interagency Senior or Access or a Golden Age or Access Pass receive a 50% discount on camping fees.

Lava Point Campground

Open June through October, as weather allows.

Located off the Kolob Terrace Road, 25 miles (45 minutes) north of the town of Virgin.

Vehicles longer than 19 feet are not permitted on the road to the campground.

• 6 Primitive Sites
• Pit toilets and trash cans
• No water
• No Fee
• First-come, first-served

Group Sites (Organized groups of 9 to 40 people)

• 7 Sites
• $3 per person per night


877- 444-6777

Side Bar

Private campgrounds with showers and hookups are available outside the park.

From late November to early March, South Campground is closed and Watchman Campground is first-come first-served.

The number of available campsites may vary throughout the year.

 Pa Rus Trail Zion National Park

Pa Rus Trail


Hiking is a fun and healthy way to see Zion National Park.

There are several trails within the park from the easy, paved Riverside Walk alongside the Virgin River to the strenuous 16-mile all-day hike through The Narrows.

 Zion National Park Gateway to the Narrows

Gateway to the Narrows

Wilderness Trips

Permits are required for all overnight trips, including climbing bivouacs, all through-hikes of The Narrows and its tributaries, all canyons requiring the use of descending gear or ropes, and all trips into The Subway and Left Fork.

For more information on wilderness hiking, or to download a copy of the Wilderness Guide, Click Here.


Zion National Park is not a particularly pet friendly park.

While pets are allowed within the park, they are governed under strict and restrictive regulations.

Pets must be kept on a leash less than six feet long at all times.

Pets are allowed:

• Along public roads
• In parking areas (generally within 100 feet of the road surface)
• In developed campgrounds
• In picnic areas
• On the grounds of the Zion Lodge

They are not allowed:

• On any trail but Pa’rus, restrained or not
• On shuttles
• In Public buildings
• In the wilderness

Pets may be left unattended in developed campgrounds provided they are quiet and properly restrained.

Pets may not be left unattended in a vehicle under environmental conditions which may be injurious to the pet.

There is a minimum fine of $75 for any violation of these regulations.

Flora and Fauna


Zion is home to several bird species; among them are:

• Stellar’s Jay
• Western Scrub Jay
• Wild Turkey
• Red-tailed Hawk
• Cooper’s Hawk
• American Kestrel
• Hairy Woodpecker

To download a Zion National Park Bird Checklist, Click Here.

Stellar's Jay Zion National Park

Stellar's Jay

Mule Deer Zion National Park

Mule Deer


One of the nice things about visiting a National Park is being able to watch animals in their natural environment.

Some of the mammals found in Zion National Park may be abundant and seen in large numbers in suitable habitat, while others are rare and seldom observed.

A few of the more common mammals are:

• Rock Squirrel
• Ringtail
• Mule Deer
• Desert Cottontail

American Black Bear Zion National Park

Cinnamon-Colored Black Bear

Mammals which may be present but are rarely seen are:

• Bighorn Sheep
• American Black Bear
• Mountain Lion

To download a brochure on the Park’s mammals, Click Here.

Plant Life

Located on the Colorado Plateau, Zion National Park is home to almost 900 different plant species.

Some of the plants you may expect to see are:

Plant Life

Located on the Colorado Plateau, Zion National Park is home to almost 900 different plant species.

Some of the plants you may expect to see are:


• Bigtooth Maple
• Gambel Oak
• River Birch
• Tamarisk

 Bigtooth Maple Zion National Park

Bigtooth Maple


• Utah Yucca
• Smooth Sumac
• Mormon Tea
• Utah Serviceberry

Mormon Tea and Yucca Zion National Park

Mormon Tea and Yucca

Pricklypear Bloom Zion National Park



• Claret Cup
• Common Pricklypear
• Cholla


• Cliff Rose
• Pale Evening-primrose
• Rabbitbrush
• Manzanita

Cliff Rose Zion National Park

Cliff Rose

To download a brochure on the Common Plants found within the park, Click Here.

References and Resources

Deseret News

National Park Service


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