What’s not to do in Zion National Park? Seriously though, Zion is one of the USA’s golden gems. It might be tucked away in Utah’s wild western desert, but it’s full of contrasts and promises an unforgettable experience whether you’re a wilderness wanderer, group of mates, keen canyoneer, family with young kiddos – and just about every other type of traveler in between. From climbing up sandstone cliffs, hiking through slot canyons, gazing up at the Milky Way or floating along the winding Virgin River, you’ll be trying to find ways to squeeze it all in.
Some fun activities to do on your trip to Zion include:
There’s something about riding a bike and feeling the fresh air on your skin as you whoosh along open roads that makes you feel totally free. Cycle the iconic Floor of the Valley Road and up steep-sided cliffs and megaliths such as the Mountain of the Sun, Mount Majestic and The Great White Throne. The only trail open to cyclists within the park is the gorgeous Pa’rus Trail which skirts the Virgin River.
If you love hiking, you’re in for a real treat. Zion has some of the US’s most famous trails. Plus, it's one of the best ways to experience all the park has to offer. There are day hikes and short walks for all ability levels whether you’re a new hiker, family with small kids or a seasoned hiking enthusiast. Wade through the Virgin River in The Narrows (Zion’s most popular slot canyon), walk through leafy gardens at Weeping Rock, reach the summit of Angel’s Landing or get some epic photos of the Zion Canyon on the Canyon Overlook Trail. Whatever trails you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
3. Rock climbing
Imagine climbing to the top of one of Zion’s ancient sandstone cliffs and turning around to see the canyon hundreds of feet below you. Aside from getting the heart pumping and the adrenaline flowing, rock climbing is a great way to test yourself mentally, experience nature in a new way and be totally present in the moment. Experienced rock climbers will already know about Zion’s iconic climbs, but if you fancy trying something new it's worth doing a guided climbing trip.
Let's be real here, is there a better way to experience the beauty of Zion than camping under its dazzling night skies? Not only will you be a stone’s throw from all of the trails and sights, but you’ll be able to roll back in after a long day and still be immersed in nature. Crack open a beer or stick the kettle on, get comfy in your camping chair and spend the evening eating s'mores around the campfire. Bliss. If you’re bringing the kiddos along you could also give glamping a go in a converted wagon (originally used by travelling pioneers in the 19th century) on a family ranch.
5. River tubing
If the idea of bracing white water rapids and getting thrown around on a river raft sounds like fun, you should totally go river tubing. If your knuckles are going white at the thought, there’s always the more chilled option of (calmy) bobbing along the tame parts of the Virgin River that are shaded with tall cottonwood trees. Whatever floats your boat, river tubing is a refreshing way to take in the views.
Throw in some hiking, rock climbing and rappelling with a handful of problem-solving and swimming, and you have yourself a canyoneering adventure. Exploring Zion’s water-carved slot canyons this way means you can get into all of the hidden nooks and crannies that aren’t accessible by hiking alone – there are surprises awaiting after every twist and turn. The two main spots for canyoneering in Zion are the Narrows and the Subway. First time canyoneering? Don't worry. There are plenty of adventures for all ability levels.
7. Free ranger-led activities
Discover the park with the help of expert park rangers who know Zion like the back of their hand. There’s plenty of activities to keep you entertained from youth programs and evening storytellers, to guided walks and wildlife spotting adventures. You’ll learn all about the park and what makes it so special, from geology and astronomy to the rich history and the role humans have played in it. Ranger-led activities only run in the late spring and summer months from April to September.
What better way to wrap up a busy day of exploring with a spot of stargazing. With practically no light pollution and nothing but the expansiveness of the Utah desert surrounding you, stargazing is an absolute must in Zion. On a clear night, you’ll see the Milky Way, dazzling stars and distant planets glaring above you. Top spots include the Human History Museum Patio, Kolob Canyon and the Pa’rus Trail. Don’t forget to bring a flask of hot chocolate and a blanket to keep you warm – you’ll be so bedazzled you won’t want to leave.
What are the best things to do near Zion National Park?
Just when you thought you’d done just about everything, you’ll find there’s just as much to do in nearby towns as there is in the park. Some of the top picks include:
Step back in time at the Little Hollywood Movie Museum
Wonder around the eerie Grafton Ghost Town
Watch a show at the OC Tanner Amphitheatre
Explore other national parks nearby
1. Step back in time at the Little Hollywood Movie Museum
Ever wondered what it's like to be on an old western movie set? Now’s your chance. Utah’s wild and rugged landscapes have been the backdrop of over 100 movies and TV shows. Step back in time and relive some of your favorite scenes with this immersive museum experience.
2. Wonder around the eerie Grafton Ghost Town
A stroll around this abandoned ghost town is eerie and fascinating in equal measure. It’s one of the most photographed ghost towns in the western US and you might recognize it from famous movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. There’s a school, half a dozen houses and a small cemetery – you can usually go inside the houses for a wonder if you're feeling brave!
3. Watch a show at the OC Tanner Amphitheatre
Could there be a more epic backdrop for a live show than Zion’s stunning rock formations? The OC Tanner Amphitheatre is Utah’s premier outdoor theatre. There’s so much entertainment on the menu from drum circles and music festivals to symphony orchestras and performing arts.
4. Explore other national parks nearby
The US is blessed with heaps of national parks that you could spend your whole life exploring. Zion is within reasonable driving distance of some of the west’s best including Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, Grand Canyon and Snow Canyon State Park. There’s never been a better excuse to load up the car and do a road trip.
Feeling inspired? Check out our Zion National Park tours.
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