Zion National Park is probably one of the first places that come to mind when you think about Utah. It is Utah’s most visited National Park and boasts some of the most incredible views in the state. But you may be wondering, when is the best time to visit Zion National Park?
The best time to visit Zion National Park is in the fall because of the cooler temperatures, smaller crowds, and lower water levels of the Narrows, Zion’s most iconic hike. All areas of the park and guest services are also available at this time. Although Zion is open year-round, visitors will have different experiences depending on when they visit like getting to drive their personal vehicle through Zion Canyon in the winter or staying in the spring when the waterfalls are flowing at their highest.
Our family has visited Zion in every season and we have enjoyed all of our visits to Zion National Park. Some of our favorite highlights have been driving up Zion Canyon in our car, seeing the canyon covered in ice and snow, seeing the waterfalls in the spring when they are flowing hard, and enjoying the views, historic cabins, and double arch alcove in Kolob Canyons during the Summer.
In this article, we are going to dive into what Zion is like, during each season of the year. Keep reading to learn more!
Zion in the Winter (Late December to Mid March)
Zion in the Winter is so different than any other time of year. The leaves have fallen off the trees, snow often coats the red rocks, and the Emerald Pools have a layer of ice!
Important things to know if you are visiting in the Winter:
- Zion Canyon has no shuttle service (other than on occasional weekends) and you are able to drive your personal vehicles up Zion Canyon and park in the parking lots at each of the shuttle stops. This allows a more relaxed and laid-back visit. However, some parking lots can fill up quickly
- Trails can be muddy and wet, so prepare to get a little dirty, especially your shoes!
- You may need to bring jackets, coats, and other winter gear depending on the weather. It’s best to check the weather before visiting so you know what to expect. Wearing layers may be wise, as you can easily warm up throughout the day, especially while hiking.
It is important to note that Zion’s southern and eastern entrances are open year-round, but Zion’s Kolob Canyon entrance as well as Kolob Terrace Road close every winter.
Before visiting the park, it is always best to check the website for any closures.
- Check out Can You Drive In Zion? (What You Need To Know).
- Don’t miss When Can You Enter Zion National Park?
- Discover What is the Best Entry to Zion? Zion’s Three Entrances.
Zion in the Spring (Mid-March to Mid-June)
Zion in the spring is known for its full waterfalls along the Emerald Pool trails, desert wildflowers, and cooler temperatures, especially in the evenings and early mornings.
I don’t know about you, but the Zion heat can be too intense for me! Visiting in the spring can be a great time if you prefer not to have to suffer through high temps.
The tradeoff, however, is that The Narrows and Emerald Pools trails can often be closed at times due to too much water and high spring runoff. If you are planning to hike The Narrows, the spring is probably not the best season to visit. Even if the Narrows are open the water will be very, very cold!
Important things to know if you are visiting in the Spring:
- Because temperatures can vary up to 30 degrees in a day, wearing layers is a good idea!
- If you are looking to visit Kolob Terrace Road and Kolob Canyons, they typically reopen in late May or in June, so be sure to check the Zion website for current closures and scheduled openings before planning your trip to those parts of Zion.
- The shuttle begins operation in the spring, typically at the beginning of April or the end of March. In the spring you will need to park at the South Visitor Center and use the shuttle to access Zion Canyon.
Zion in the Summer (Mid-June to Mid-September)
Zion in the summer is beautiful but HOT. Visiting in the summer is best done in the mornings or evenings, taking a break midday to cool off and enjoy Zion Lodge, the visitor center and bookstore, or Springdale City.
It is always our game plan when we visit in the summer to get to the park before 8 am. We usually spend until lunchtime hiking, and then leave for our Airbnb or hotel to relax, swim, go shopping, visit museums, or do other fun things indoors!
- Sign up for park updates, travel ideas, and stories of the West all in our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox once a week.
If you plan to spend all day in the park, be sure to pack sunscreen and stay hydrated! Most shuttle stops have water bottle refill stations, so take full advantage of those!
Summer is a great time to visit The Narrows as the water is a bit warmer and becomes shallower throughout summer and into the fall. However, pay close attention to the weather! Summer is monsoon season in the park and huge storms can rip through the area. Do not enter The Narrows if there is a chance of rain! Entering slot canyons during rainstorms can be deadly.
- Find out all about Flash Floods in Zion National Park?
- Check out How To Use The Zion Shuttle System and What To Expect At Each Shuttle Stop In Zion Canyon before you head to Zion!
Important things to know if you visit in the summer:
- The shuttle runs throughout the summer and you will NEED to take it to access Zion Canyon.
- Kolob Canyons and Kolob Terrace Road are open during the summer months!
- Temperatures regularly reach over 100 degrees so be careful to take steps to prevent heat-related illness. Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, take time to cool down in the shade, and listen to your body.
- This is the busiest time of year for Zion, prepare for crowds. Read our opinion on crowds in Zion.
Zion in the Fall (Mid-September to Mid-December)
The fall is one of my favorite times to visit Zion, temperatures are cooling down, and crowds are too with school back in session. Watch out for Utah’s fall break week! It is usually the second or third weekend in October.
The Narrows are warm and shallow, and the leaves are turning all the beautiful colors of fall.
The waterfalls along the Emerald Pools trails are usually only a trickle during the fall and don’t have quite the effect that they do in the spring, but overall the park still has the incredible scenery it has in summer, just with changing leaves!
Important things to know before visiting in the Fall:
- The shuttle stops running regularly in November and only runs on busy weekends. Check the shuttle schedule before visiting.
- The Kolob Canyons and Kolob Terrace Road areas in Zion both close when snow begins, typically in November.
- Just like in the spring, temperature can vary by 30 degrees, and wearing layers can be wise.
- The Human History Museum closes in November and does not reopen until the Spring.
The Shuttle Schedule
It is always important to check the Zion website for the current shuttle schedule as it is always tentative. Here are the current schedules for Zion and Springdale lines.
Zion Canyon Line Shuttle Schedule
|May 21 to September 17||September 18 to November 4||November 5 to November 26|
|First shuttle leaves the Zion Canyon Visitor Center (Stop 1)||6:00 am||7:00 am||7:00 am|
|Last shuttle leaves the Visitor Center to the Temple of Sinawava (Stop 9)||7:00 pm||5:00 pm||4:00 pm|
|Last shuttle out of the canyon from the Temple of Sinawava (Stop 9)||8:15 pm||7:15 pm||6:15 pm|
Springdale Line Shuttle Schedule
|May 21 to September 17||September 18 to November 4||November 5 go November 26|
|First shuttle leaves the Majestic View Lodge (Stop 9)||7:00 am||8:00 am||8:00 am|
|Last shuttle leaves Zion Canyon Village (Stop 1)||8:00 pm||7:00 pm||6:00 pm|
Some Things to Remember Before Visiting Zion in any Season
- Remember, if you would like to hike Angels Landing you will need to get reservations.
- The busiest season is typically April through October, expect crowds and lines for the shuttles. Be prepared for full visitor center parking lots. You may have to park in Springdale and ride the shuttle into the park.
- Always check for closures and important updates on the Zion website before visiting.
Overall, there is no bad time to visit Zion National Park. It is an incredible place to be, even on the busiest and hottest of days! But hopefully, this season breakdown can help guide your decision-making of when the best time to visit the park is for you!
- Make sure to read Do I Need A Reservation To Visit Zion? when planning your trip to Zion.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Zion National Park is crowded! Need a game plan to avoid the crowds? Check out our itinerary.
Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites and still avoid the crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times.
But that’s not all! Our itinerary includes a free audio guide to listen to while driving with over an hour of stories about the park!
- Zion National Park Itinerary
- Zion National Park Trip Planner Page
- How To Hike Angels Landing In Zion
- Is Kolob Canyons in Zion Worth Visiting?
- How To Do The Confusing Emerald Pools Hike In Zion National Park
- Riverside Walk & The Narrows In Zion National Park
- Can You Drive In Zion? (What You Need To Know)
- Do I Need A Reservation To Visit Zion?
- Are Flash Floods Common in Zion National Park?
- Is Zion Too Crowded? What Every Traveler Needs to Know
- What is the Best Entry to Zion? Zion’s Three Entrances
- When Can You Enter Zion National Park?
- Zion National Park Website