Do not vist Zion in the summer ........until you read this
The summer months in Zion tend to be the busiest and hottest months of the year. In the summer, May through September, temps can reach up to 110 degrees in the heat of the day. Springdale and the surrounding towns are bustling with tourists, no vacancy signs greet you at every hotel, and restaurants are packed to the brim.
So does this mean you shouldn’t visit Zion in the summer? It most certainly does not!
It just means that to visit Zion in the summer, there is a bit of extra planning involved. Zion is absolutely beautiful in the summer, and there are lots of great things to do, so read along and let me show you how it's done! :-)
In this blog post you will find....
Tips for navigating the shuttle
The 5 best water hikes
Tips to avoid the crowds
Fun summer activities in Zion
The best ways to beat the heat
NAVIGATING THE SHUTTLE IN THE SUMMER
Mid-day shuttle lines can be hours long, especially on weekends and holidays. Trust me on this; you do not want to be standing in a long shuttle line in the heat of the day.
The Zion shuttle only runs to Zion Canyon. All other areas of the park you will drive to.
To get on the shuttle, you will park at the Visitor Center which typically fills up by 8 am. So make sure you get to the park before 8 am for the best parking.
If you are staying in Springdale, you can ride the Springdale shuttle directly to the visitor center. Once parking fills up in the visitor center, you will need to park in Springdale and take the shuttle to the visitor center.
Avoid long lines by going into the park later in the day if going earlier isn't an option. The shuttle lines tend to die out around 2-3pm.
HOW TO HIKE ZION IN THE SUMMER
Zion National Park in summer is the greenest and most beautiful time of the year. It is also scorching, with temps reaching 110ºF during July and August. My best advice for hiking Zion in the summer is to start before sunrise, take lots of water, and choose hikes that run along a stream or river. Starting your hike later in the day is also a great option. Shady trails are your friend.
Check out our five favorite water hikes!
Located in the Kolob Canyon section of Zion, this 5.5 miles round trip hike runs along a stream the whole time. There are two historic cabins along the trail that are intresting. The double arch alcove at the end is a great spot for lunch and snacks. Even if the kiddos don't make it all the way to the end it is worth it to hike along the stream for a ways and enjoy the scenery.
Located at the last shuttle stop in the main canyon, The Narrows starts once you step off the paved trail of Riverside Walk. Bring walking sticks for added support. If hiking with kids, take lots of snacks and plan plenty of time for the kids to play in the water. ALWAYS check the weather before you head into a narrow canyon. Flash floods are always possible.
Not normally thought of as a water hike, the Pa'Rus trail starts at the visitor center goes past the south campground and along the Virgin River. Because it runs along the river, you can take one of the many side paths down to the water to cool off in the river. It is such a great trail for a leisurely evening stroll with the kiddos.
LOWER PINE CREEK FALLS
This hike isn't advertised by the park, so chances of having some solitude are good if you go first thing in the morning or later in the day. The parking area for this hike is right before the bridge that takes you up to the Carmel Tunnel. The trail starts right by the parking area. You will take it all the way back until you reach a beautiful waterfall. This 1.25 mile round trip trail will take you along a stream for the whole hike.
This 2.5 mile round trip hike located in the Zion Canyon takes you right along the Virgin River. You will take the shuttle all the way through the park (45 mins) and get a wonderful scenic view of the canyon. There is a sand trail that runs parallel to the paved trail and is usually less crowded. The end of this hike is the start of The Narrows.
WE LOVE ZION PONDEROSA RESORT - CLICK TO LEARN MORE
TIPS FOR HOW TO AVOID THE CROWDS
This is one tip that I can't stress enough. Go early to get parking at the Visitor Center and avoid long shuttle lines. I've seen parking fill up at the visitor center by 7am before. Going into the park early ensures that you will spend the first part of your day hiking without crowds. #worthit
WALK THE PA'RUS TRAIL
Walk the Pa'Rus Trail and follow the paths leading down to the river. Down by the river it is always quiet and peaceful and I have never had to worry about crowds. To get to the Pa'Rus Trail you can park at the Visitor Center or the Nature Center.
GO LATER IN THE DAY
Go into the park later in the day, up to 2-3 hours before sunset. If you are going into the Zion Canyon on the shuttle, keep track of when the last shuttle bus leaves the canyon so you don't get stuck in the park after hours.
EXPLORE EAST ZION
East Zion tends to be quite a bit less busy than Zion Canyon. There are pull-offs all along the drive. Pick a spot to pull off and go exploring. The best spots to pull over will start about 1/4 mile east of the Canyon Overlook parking lot.
***watch for cryptobiotic soil when exploring and stick to the slick rock to minimize your impact on the delicate enviroment.
EXPORE THE KOLOB TERRACE SECTION OF ZION
Drive the Kolob Terrace road. This south west section of Zion is away from the Zion Canyon and the crowds and it is beautiful.
GET OFF ON THE COURT OF THE PATRIARCHS SHUTTLE STOP
Explore along the river and hike Sand Bench Loop trail at Court of the Patriarchs shuttle stop. This area is often overlooked by tourists and it is such a great area to avoid crowds and play along the river.
Sand Bench loop is a short trail that takes you along a little stream and a horse corral. There are plenty of areas for kids to run and play in the sand. I highly recommend taking a lunch and hanging out by the river for the afternoon or evening.
GREAT SUMMER ACTIVITIES WHEN VISITING ZION
The O.C. Tanner Amphitheater in Springdale has a great summer concert series. The amphitheater is set against the gorgeous red rocks that Utah is known for. This not only provides a terrific acoustic quality, but also a stunning aesthetic quality. Check and see if there are any summer concerts playing while you are in town. ***Currently closed due to flooding
The Zion Canyon Music Festival is held the last weekend of September and features two days of music, great food, beer & wine & a free kids zone with arts, crafts and vendor booths. Check out more details here.
The Nature Center in Zion next to the South Campground features daily youth specific programs. Kids will learn about powerful geological forces and much more. All programs are carefully developed by staff to create a fun and enjoyable learning experience for visiting youth and their families. The Nature Center is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The Virgin River is generally prime for tubing from May - July. Rent or buy a tube at Zion Outfitters in Springdale and enjoy a leisurely 2-mile float through Springdale. Then get off at the Springdale park and take the Springdale shuttle back into town.
Rent an E bike from one of the many rental companies in Springdale & bike the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Let the electric motor do the work so you can spend your energy soaking in the scenery!
WE LOVE EAST ZION ADVENTURES - CLICK TO LEARN MORE
TIPS TO BEAT THE HEAT
Early mornings are always the best time of day to start hiking if you want your best shot at beating the heat.
Chose water hikes. See our favorite water hikes listed above.
Ice cream is always the great way to cool off, right?!? We love getting a soft serve cone at Castle Dome Cafe at the Zion Lodge and eating it while sitting on the grassy field in front of the lodge. It is about as good as it gets.
Finding spots to splash and play along the Virgin River is a great way to cool off from the summer sun. A few of our favorite spots include, the many paths down to the river along the Pa'rus trail, anywhere along Riverside Walk, Canyon Junction has a fun spot to slide down the rocks and into the river, and Springdale Park.
There you have it! It can be done! You can plan a trip to Zion in the summer without sitting in long lines and sweating buckets in the heat of the day. I hope these tips and recommendations help you plan a magical and fun trip to Zion in the summer.