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When is the Best Time to Visit Zion?

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?

View of canyon in 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)

Snow in Zion National Park

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.

Zion in the Spring (Mid-March to Mid-June)

Man and child hiking in Zion National Park

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)

Hikers in the river on the Zion Narrows hike

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!

Confused about How to Ride the Zion Shuttles?
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Guide includes the Springville Shuttle, Zion Canyon Shuttle, What to Do at Each Stop, Handy Tips + Maps

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.

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)

Zion canyon with river

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 December 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

Zion shuttles with mountain behind

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

Jan 1 to March 2March 3 to May 18May 19 to Sept 15Sept 16 to Nov 2Nov 3 to Dec 1
First shuttle leaves the Zion Canyon Visitor Center (Stop 1)No shuttle service7:00 am6:00 am7:00 am7:00 am
Last shuttle leaves the visitor center to the Temple of Sinawava (Stop 9)No shuttle service5:00 pm7:00 pm5:00 pm4:00 pm
Last shuttle out of the canyon from the Temple of Sinawava (Stop 9)No shuttle service7:15 pm8:15 pm7:15 pm6:15 pm
From the National Park Website. Check for the most up-to-date schedule here.

Springdale Line Shuttle Schedule

Jan 1 to March 2March 3 to May 18May 19 to Sept 15Sept 16 to Nov 2Nov 3 to Dec 1
First shuttle leaves the Majestic View Lodge (Stop 9)No shuttle service8:00 am7:00 am8:00 am8:00 am
The last shuttle leaves Zion Canyon Village (Stop 1)No shuttle service7:00 pm8:00 pm7:00 pm6:00 pm
Springdale Shuttle Schedule from the National Park Website. Check for the most up-to-date schedule here.

Some Things to Remember Before Visiting Zion in any Season

Kids looking at view of mountains in Zion National Park
  • 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!

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!

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO
ZION

ZION TRIP PLANNER: To read or watch all of our content about Zion National Park, check out our  Zion Homepage

THINGS TO DO: Don’t miss all that Zion has to offer including Emerald Pools, Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, and Kolob Canyons

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat in and near Zion National Park

GREAT CITIES TO STAY OR CHECK OUT: Learn where to stay or camp when visiting Zion and explore some amazing cities nearby including St. George, Kanab, and Cedar City

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Find out if you need a reservation and how to use the shuttle system as well as if you can drive in Zion, which entrance to use, and how to avoid crowds

WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Zion National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Zion YouTube Playlist

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