How to explore Zion National Park in a day
Here’s what to do in Zion National Park in 24 hours
Advance planning is crucial to making the most out of a short trip
Activity options include hiking, biking, boating, rock climbing, and scenic car drives
Consider lodging within the park for the night
Southwest Utah’s Zion National Park is enormous, with glorious sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, wildlife, and breathtaking views. As wonderful a visit to this park can be, it has some stiff competition from other National Parks in the area. Within a reasonable road trip distance are Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, and Grand Staircase Escalante National Park. In addition, depending on how you plan your trip, it is even possible to squeeze in a stop at Monument Valley or the Grand Canyon.
With everything to do in the area, you might have to make the tough choice to limit your visit to a single day. If so, don’t worry. There’s a way to make the most out of even this limited amount of time.
Start with research
If you have a limited amount of time to visit the park, advance research can make a huge difference in the quality of your time there. You want to spend your hours enjoying the park, not figuring out what to do, right? As a start, visit the National Park Website for an overview of where things are and what your options for transportation can be. You’ll also want to decide how you want to see the park. Options include biking, hiking, horseback, car travel, boating, or tour bus.
Another choice you’ll want to make and research ahead of time is if you plan to stay in the park. If so, deciding to stay at Zion Lodge will deepen your experience there, especially because it will allow you the chance to see some of the beautiful landscape during sunrise and sunset, when nature’s lighting brings out the best of what the park has to offer.
Zion by car
If you’ve decided that you want to use your car as a base for your park experience, you’re going to want to take the Zion-Mt.Carmel highway. This scenic drive takes you through gorgeous sandstone cliffs and is likely to give you an up-close view of wildlife. There are also some places for you to stop to get out and look around or take photos. And as a highlight of the trip, you’ll likely go through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel which is an engineering masterpiece that is not to be missed.
Zion National Park is a hiker’s paradise. Visitors who have chosen to set out on food will be rewarded with a more personal and up-close view of the park. One of the best spots to consider hiking is The Narrows. This is the iconic, narrow slot canyon featuring sandstone walls that are close together and a thousand feet high on either side, with a section of the Virgin River stretching out below. Most hikers are going to find that their adventure includes some wading and that it is one of the most memorable parts of their trip.
Getting out on foot is one of the best ways to experience this hiker’s paradise.
Other hiking stops include the Weeping Rock Trail or the eight-mile round trip excursion to Observation Point. Both of these are accessible from Shuttle Stop 7 through the park.
Making your visit an adventure
If you’re looking to make your visit more of an adventure, you’re in luck. It is possible to experience the park by bike, boat, or horseback and to get access to out of the way spots that most others don’t see. Some of the most adventurous visitors test out there rock climbing skills there, so that’s a possibility too. Many tourist companies catering to the park are based out of nearby Springdale, Utah and might require some advance preparation or a reservation.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
Work for these companies and get paid to travel | Living 101
Here’s how to get paid to explore.
How to use social media to help you have the best vacation | Living 101
Social media can enhance your trip if you know how to use it.