best time to visit zion national park

The BEST Time To Visit Zion National Park: Your Ultimate Guide

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Are you wondering about the best time to visit Zion National Park?

Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah and is home to incredible hiking, camping, climbing, scenic drives, and beautiful views. This is one of the most popular US national parks and sees about 4-5 million visitors per year.

Click here to buy your National Park Pass online in advance.

Deciding on the best time to visit Zion National Park depends on what activities you are interested in, the weather you prefer, and how comfortable you are with crowds. 

Continue reading below to discover the ultimate guide for the best time to visit Zion National Park.

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Best Time To Visit Zion National Park

Summer In Zion National Park

You can typically expect weather in Zion during the summer months to be highs in the mid-80s, possibly even 90s, and lows in the mid-50s. However, it is not uncommon to see highs veer into the 100s.

Summer is a great time to visit Zion National Park because the Virgin River has settled, making it a great time to hike The Narrows. This offers safer conditions to travel through the canyon, and quite frankly, the water temperatures are more bearable, if not even refreshing, on a hot summer day.

It’s important to note that during the summer months, Zion experiences the most crowds. Therefore, you will experience long lines for photos in popular destinations, extended wait periods for the shuttle service, and heavy foot traffic on the hiking trails.

Additionally, summer in Zion is considered to be the monsoon season so you can typically expect some thunderstorms, flash floods, and rain. Pay attention to flash flood warnings and do not simply ignore them when you are planning your trip and hikes.

Pros of Visiting Zion National Park In Summer:

  • Zion experiences its warmest weather during the summer months.
  • All hikes are typically open.
  • The Zion Canyon Shuttle service is fully operational.

Cons of Visiting Zion National Park In Summer:

  • Zion experiences the most crowds during the summer season.
  • Summer in Zion is considered the monsoon season so there are frequent flash floods, rain, and thunderstorms throughout the area.
  • You are required to take the Zion Canyon Shuttle.

Fall In Zion National Park

Zion National Park is beautiful during the fall season. You can typically expect Zion’s weather in fall to be highs in the mid-50s to mid-70s and lows to be in the low-30s to upper-40s, depending on which month you plan on visiting. 

Fall is one of the most gorgeous and enjoyable times to visit Zion because of its moderate temperature, fewer crowds, fall foliage, and awesome hiking. It’s actually my personal favorite time to go, specifically in mid-September!

Pros of Visiting Zion National Park In Fall:

  • Fewer crowds are to be expected in the fall compared to summer in Zion.
  • Fall foliage is beautiful during the autumn season in Zion.
  • You can expect milder weather when visiting Zion in fall, making it an ideal time to go hiking.

Cons of Visiting Zion National Park In Fall

  • You are required to take the Zion Canyon Shuttle when visiting the park in the fall.
  • Nightly temperatures are pretty chilly. Remember that the desert gets cold too.
  • You can typically expect some early snow storms towards the end of fall.

Winter In Zion National Park

Winter in Zion National Park is an awesome time to visit due to it being the off-season. You won’t typically experience crowds during the winter months and can typically expect to hike and get great photo opportunities without all the lines, unless you are visiting around the holidays. Holidays in US National Parks tend to see heavy traffic in all seasons.

In the winter, you can expect highs in the upper-40s and lows in the mid-20s. It’s not uncommon to experience snow in Zion, especially in the areas with higher elevations. 

Being in Utah, Zion is located at higher altitudes of 3,666 – 8,726 ft and does see snowfall in the winter. Snow in the Southwest desert is one of my favorite sights – there’s nothing like seeing the contrast of red sandstone and white snow! 

Make sure your vehicle is prepared with tire chains if necessary. Bring microspikes with you on all of your hikes. Do not underestimate the easiest hikes as trails can be icy and therefore dangerous.

However, it’s important to note that many trails and roads close in Zion during the winter season due to inclement weather.

Pros of Visiting Zion National Park In Winter:

  • The fewest number of visitors. Historically, November – February have seen the least amount of visitors.
  • You are not required to take the Zion Canyon Shuttle, Zion Canyon Road is open to visitor vehicles. 
  • Great time of year for those interested in winter sports like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
  • You may experience an abundance of wildlife sightings because the animals that occupy Zion move to lower elevation to get warmer during the winter season.

Cons of Visiting Zion National Park In Winter:

  • Many trails close in Zion during the winter season due to inclement weather and road closures. 
  • Many shops and restaurants in nearby town of Springdale also shut down for the winter season.
  • The weather can be very chilly and often goes beyond freezing.

Spring In Zion National Park

Spring is one of the best times to visit Zion for those looking to explore wildflowers, experience mild weather, and enjoy fewer crowds than peak summer season. 

During spring in Zion, you can typically expect weather to be highs in the mid-50s to upper-60s and lows to be low-30s to low-40s, depending on which month you plan to visit. 

Pros of Visiting Zion National Park In Fall:

  • Spring is the wildflower season in Zion.
  • You will experience fewer crowds in the Spring compared to the peak Summer season.
  • During the Spring season you may experience some great waterfalls throughout Zion.

Cons of Visiting Zion National Park In Fall:

  • Some hiking trails and roads may still be closed during Spring due to snowy and icy conditions. 
  • You are required to take the Zion Canyon Shuttle to explore the park.
  • The weather can still be pretty cold at night.

Tips For Visiting Zion National Park

  • Plan Your Trip To Zion National Park In Advance- You will need to pick which season you plan on visiting Zion and start planning your trip well in advance. It is not uncommon for hotels and campsites in the area to book up 6 months in advance so the earlier you can plan your trip the better!
  • Get To The Park Early During Summer Season- Summer in Zion National Park receives the most crowds so it’s important to arrive at the park early, before 9 AM, to try and avoid long lines for shuttles, photo opportunities, and foot traffic on trails.
  • Bring Extra Layers- Regardless of what season you visit Zion, be sure to bring extra layers with you. It’s not uncommon for weather to change rapidly so bringing extra layers allows you to stay warm and comfortable during your visit. 

What To Pack For Zion National Park

Places to Stay near Zion

Springdale, Utah is the small town just outside of the popular entrance into Zion National Park; this makes it extremely convenient to access the park with an easy shuttle ride, but the prices are higher to match.

St. George, Utah is just under one hour away southwest. It’s a growing, big small city (if that makes sense) and a great home base for your Southwest adventures. There are actually 5 state parks surrounding St George in addition to Zion National Park – click here to to read the full guide to St. George.

📍Inside the ParkZion National Park Lodge: Each US National Park has at least one hotel in the park and the lodge inside Zion’s is a must-stay. No pets allowed.

📍Budget-FriendlySt George Inn and Suites in St George: very standard but clean rooms and pet-friendly.

📍ModerateBest Western Plus Abbey Inn in St George: One of my personal favorites. It’s spacious, clean, and a great location to access all nearby parks. This was surprisingly nice for a Best Western and it’s pet-friendly.

📍LuxuryCable Mountain Lodge in Springdale: prime location right next to park entrance, breathtaking canyon views, clean and spacious. No pets allowed.

📍Camping – my favorite campground inside the park is Watchman Campground but it books out quickly and be prepared for potentially loud neighbors. No pets allowed.

Things to do near Zion

Book a tour with certified guides to elevate your experience out in Zion National Park. Rappel down secluded slot canyons and see the park from a birds-eye view in a small helicopter for some unique adventure bragging-worthy photos.


Helicopter Ride Above Zion

FAQs About The Best Time To Visit Zion National Park

What is the best month to visit Zion National Park?

The best months to visit Zion are March through April and September through November. The spring and fall seasons are the best to visit Zion due to fewer crowds, beautiful views like wildflowers or fall foliage, and mild weather for hiking or viewing wildlife.

How many days do you need in Zion National Park?

You generally need at least 2-3 days to explore all that the main part of Zion National Park has to offer. However, you can definitely see an abundance of the park in one, jam packed day. Less popular areas like Kolab Canyons are definitely worth visiting but require a separate day away from the main attractions.

What is the most popular time to visit Zion National Park?

The most popular time to visit Zion National Park is during the summer months of May through August with a peak season of July and August. Families often head out here for summer vacations; however, March – October see a lot of traffic as well.

Is February a good time to visit Zion National Park?

February is a great time to visit Zion National Park for those looking to avoid crowds. It’s also a great time for those looking to try winter sports like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. However, you can typically expect for some trails and roads to be closed due to snowy and icy conditions. 

When is the best time to visit Zion National Park to avoid crowds?

The best time to visit Zion National Park to avoid crowds is during the winter season of December to February, but since winter temperatures and conditions aren’t for everyone, October would be the best time to visit for enjoyable temperatures and less crowds. Just be prepared for cold mornings and nights.

When is the best time to hike Angels Landing?

The best time to hike Angels Landing is during the Spring or Fall due to the mild weather, typically fewer crowds, and beautiful scenery. However, a permit system is now in place for the Angels Landing hike so you shouldn’t have to worry about overcrowding.

Angels Landing Permit Info

Fall Permit (September 1 – November 30): Seasonal lotto open July 1-20

Winter Permit (December 1 – February 28): Seasonal lotto open October 1-20

Spring Permit (March 1 – May 31): Seasonal lotto open Jan 1-20

Summer Permit (June 1 – August 31): Seasonal lotto open April 1-20

When is the best time to hike The Narrows?

The best time to hike The Narrows is during the Summer and early Autumn season. 

However, make sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast because flash flooding is very common during this time of year which can be increasingly dangerous when hiking The Narrows.

In July and August, the water is the perfect refreshing temperature on a hot day and the narrow canyon provides an abundance of shade. The further in you hike, the less crowds you will see. The water levels are typically higher during the summer due to snow melt and flash floods.

In October/ November, the water is certainly more frigid and I would recommend renting neoprene socks, boots, and a hiking stick from the local outfitters. The evening temps drop below freezing so I wouldn’t be surprised to see frozen socks if you overnight camp the narrows.

Click here to shop my neoprene socks for Spring-Fall water hikes in the Southwest desert.

When is the best time to visit Zion National Park for camping?

The best time to visit Zion National Park for camping is really anytime there isn’t snow, during Spring, Summer, or Fall. Each season offers a unique perspective. In the summer, the hot temps make for nice warm nights sleeping under the stars; in the fall, the brisk air and fall foliage combined with less crowds offer a tranquil experience.

Keep in mind that while summer is the best time to camp, you will likely have neighbors in every direction. Don’t expect to sleep in too much as that morning peace can be easily disrupted by nearby campers, but you should want to wake up early to explore too!

Final Thoughts: When Is The Best Time To Visit Zion National Park?

The best time to visit Zion National Park truly depends on what you like, the weather you enjoy, and how crowded you prefer it. 

Generally, the best time to visit Zion National Park is during the Spring or Fall season for those looking to go on hikes, catch spectacular views of wildflowers or fall foliage, and in order to avoid the peak season crowds that occur during the Summer.

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