Nestled within the stunning southern region of Utah, Zion National Park is a totally gorgeous place to visit. With towering canyons and Emerald Pools, there’s a heap of the best things to do in Zion National Park to suit every type of visitor. This all makes it a perfect holiday spot to explore the great outdoors!
Honestly, the park itself is breathtaking and you really shouldn’t miss a few days (or longer) rambling the trails and seeing this totally unspoilt gem in Utah.
With millions of years of geological history, especially around the cliffs of the Virgin River, it’s the kind of place that epitomises the US for me. Nature is on such a grand scale across the national parks in the US and Zion certainly showed me that!
So, to help you get the most outta this grand natural wonder, I wanted to share some of the top places to visit in Zion that I’m hoping you’ll love.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Zion National Park. Have an amazing time in Utah!
1.) The Narrows
The Narrows is probably the most famous of the Zion Hill trails to explore. Well, saying that, the Narrows really isn’t a trail at all – rather, it’s the very narrowest part of Zion Canyon that can be strolled (and sometimes waded) through.
Once here, you can hop into Zion Canyon for a whole-day, 10-mile hike, which is pretty tough if you’re following the whole route and you will always get wet.
That being said, it’s incredible and one of the best things to do in Zion National Park that you just can’t miss.
If you’re heading on the ‘bottom-up hike‘ then you won’t need a permit to access The Narrows. This starts from Temple of Sinawava and you can just hop right in and start wading The Narrows as far as Big Spring. It’s gorgeous and well worth giving it a go; just be sure to pack some extra water shoes for the ramble.
Oh, and always check the conditions and flash-flood warnings to see if The Narrows is open. After all, no one want’s a reckless hiker wading here!
Either way, the Narrows will be one of the most memorable hiking experiences you’ll get at Zion National Park.
2.) Willis Creek Narrows
One of the greatest things about visiting Willis Creek Narrows is that it’s pretty accessible and relatively easy to see.
Unlike lots of other slot canyons in Zion, it’s the kind of hiking trail that’s perfect if you’re not fancying an arduous ramble through the terrain – it’s all so nice and easy.
Plus, there’s oodles of parking so it’s great to do at any time of the day!
In so many ways, Willis Creek Narrow reminds me of Antelope Canyon; which I loved, too. I suppose it’s shaped by the same geological processes as they’re relatively close to each other (even if they’re in different states).
3.) Angels Landing
Angels Landing is one of the most adrenaline-inducing hikes you can take at Zion National Park! Actually, saying that, it’s one of the most exciting but strenuous hikes in the whole of Utah!
Only for experienced hikers, you’ll need a good level of fitness for Angels Landing as you’ll be using all four limbs to attempt the tough inclines at certain points.
This is not the hike you want to take your kids on, nor anyone who has a fear of heights or a level of fitness that will be dangerous to themselves (and others). Oh yeah, and if you get vertigo, give this one a miss! The Angels Landings trail has huge drop-offs that can make your legs wobble!
Though, if you’re able to make it to Angels Landing at the top, you’ll be rewarded with the most breath-taking views of the valley surrounded by the towering walls of the Zion Canyon.
4.) Human History Museum
The Human History Museum is worth a visit during your trip as it shines a light on the cultural history of Zion National Park.
With a heap of exhibitions, describing the history of the early pioneer settlements, the indigenous groups native to the area, and the inception and development of the Park itself, the Human History Museum is a fountain of knowledge.
Well worth a little gander for a few hours, it’s totally easy to visit as it’s the very first stop on the Park shuttle.
Afterwards, head on over to the historic Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel which you can drive through. Yes, it’s a single lane and you will need to drive carefully but it’s a historic part of the park you can’t miss. Plus, after you reach the other side (about a mile) you’ll get to park up and see the Slot Canyon and the from the Pine Creek Canyon overlook.
5.) Kanarra Creek
hiking Kanarra Creek is one of the best things to do in Zion National Park if you want to see an impressive slot canyon. Just shy of 4-miles in length, it’s a hike that’s best suited to those that are familiar with hikes (though it’s not too hard).
Totally beautiful and great to see, you will need a permit to hike this route. Typically, they only allow around 150 people to trek the trail each day, so book asap.
6.) Weeping Rock
This one’s a crier!
Weeping Rock has earned its name courtesy of its constantly moist environment. You see, the surface of the rock is perpetually wet, with water dripping, and sometimes flowing, out of it.
One of the coolest things about the Weeping Rock is that thanks to all the water seeping from its walls. This all means the Rock tends to grow an abundance of plants and hanging gardens easily form.
Plus, it’s really easy to visit if you stop at the trailhead by the layby on the Floor of the Valley Road.
7.) Checkerboard Mesa
Despite being equally beautiful, the east side of the park is typically less travelled than its western counterpart and quite a bit quieter.
This means it’s one of the best things to do in Zion National Park if you’re looking hankering for less crowded spots.
With its own parking lot and informational display plaque, this side of the Park has a distinct atmosphere and unique scenery that you really can’t miss.
Be sure not to miss the Checkerboard Mesa, the first stop you’ll come across from the Park’s East Entrance. The interesting cross pattern after which the white coloured Mesa is named, stands out among the pines and amber rock surrounding it, make it totally iconic.
Although you can’t hike Checkerboard Mesa, you can enjoy it from afar and it’s quite easy to partner on a gander before joining the East Rim Trail that’s just shy of the Ranger’s Station.
8.) Hidden Canyon
Hidden Canyon provides views that are just as spectacular as Angel’s Landing, but with the added benefit of being much less crowded.
This makes this hike one of the best things to do in Zion National Park for those craving a little more solitude in the great outdoors.
With similar vertigo-inducing, cliff-hugging paths, Hidden Canyon is super fun and well worth it for the views. There are heaps of chains hammered into the rock along many stretches, adding some extra safety to the amazing hike. Definitely worth the time to hike up to Hidden Canyon, even if you’ve already done Angel’s Landing!
Plus, it’s really easy to partner the trail to Hidden Canyon after seeing the Weeping Rock – they’re right next to each other!
9.) Canyon Overlook Trail
As I briefly mentioned earlier, after driving through Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel is the short but sweet Canyon Overlook Trail. It’s one of the more popular alternatives to the more challenging hikes at Zion National Park – but still super rewarding!
Less than one-mile (there and back) the Canyon Overlook Trail takes you to a look-out point providing some dazzling views of the valley that you just can’t miss.
Easily accessible to most, the trail has very little incline and totally easy.
10.) Pa’Rus Trail
The paved Pa’Rus Trail is the only trail in the entire Park where dogs (on a lead) are allowed to join their owners for a scamper around. Likewise, the Pa’Rus Trail is the only trail where you can go for a bicycle ride.
It follows the Virgin River for certain segments and veers off for others in order to lead you to glorious viewpoints that really show off the incredible beauty of Zion National Park.
Joining the trail on wheels or with a furry friend? Just be a courteous bike rider and keep dogs on a lead as all hikers and visitors share this relatively narrow trail.
11.) Emerald Pools
The Emerald Pool hikes, with the “Lower” and “Higher” options, are some of the best things to do in Zion National Park that’s a pretty easy trail.
Now, what makes the Emerald Pools hikes so special is the gorgeous waterfalls that flow from the upper pools down to the lower ones; it’s stunning.
Plus, because of all the water, the area is especially green and lush and pretty stunning to see.
If you’re wanting an easier trail, hop on the Lower Emerald Pools hike. That being said, none of them is classed as strenuous, which make it a manageable trail for most keen ramblers.
For instance, even the Higher Emerald Pools hike only takes around 90-minutes to complete under 3-miles (there and back).
Looking to rest up? Check into the Zion National Park Lodge close by.
12.) Riverside Walk
At the last shuttle stop, the Temple of Sinawava, jump off and start the Riverside Walk. This is perfect for those that don’t want to explore deeper into The Narrows and want a more accessible pathway to enjoy the canyon.
Easy to complete, this is ultimately the first section of The Narrows route and follows the natural meandering of the Virgin River.
Now, in my opinion, it’s not the most dramatic part of The Narrows, compared to the fun bit of wading. That being said, it’s certainly easy and well worth visiting if you’re with younger children or need additional accessibility support.
At just over a 2-miles roundtrip, most eager ramblers can complete the walk with relative ease.