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What to Expect at Each Shuttle Stop in Zion Canyon

shuttle stop in Zion

Zion Canyon is the section of Zion National Park that receives the most visitors and attention. This is mostly due to the immensely popular hikes, Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. Both hikes are located in this canyon.

For this reason, the park service runs shuttle buses along this route to avoid excess traffic and congestion. The shuttles make visiting Zion Canyon a breeze as you can hop on and hop off at the stops you choose.

In this article, we will talk about what you can find at each shuttle stop along Zion Canyon.

Map of the different shuttle stops
Zion Shuttle Stops

Shuttle Stop 1: Zion Canyon Visitor’s Center

Entrance Station at Zion

The Zion Canyon Visitor’s Center features a large parking lot and is the home of the first shuttle stop. Here is where you will get on the shuttle and begin your adventure into Zion Canyon.

The Shuttle

The shuttle stop is right next to the Visitor Center. During the busy seasons, there can be waiting times to get on the shuttle. However, there are numerous operating shuttles so the line moves frequently.

Visitor Center

While at this stop, peruse the visitor’s center and bookstore, grab a park map (it will have each stop clearly defined), use the restroom, and fill up your water bottles!

Pa’rus Trail

The first stop also features the Pa’rus Trail, a paved 3.5-mile walk that runs along the Virgin River.

Watchman Trail

Watchman Trail is a 3.3-mile moderate hike with views of The Watchman, Temple Towers, Lower Zion, and Springdale.

Archeology Trail

The Archeology Trail is a 0.4-mile easy trail that climbs to the top of a small hill and features trailside exhibits.

Shuttle Stop 2: Zion Human History Museum

Junior Ranger Badges

Zion Human History Museum

Shuttle Stop 2 is located about a half mile from the south entrance of the park and features the Zion Human History Museum. The museum is generally open from March – November, depending on the weather.

This museum features artifacts and histories of the native people who called Zion National Park home.

The artifacts in the museum were found inside the park. Use your time here to read about the rich history of Zion – from geology to plant life, animal life, and the communities that helped form Zion over thousands of years!

Red Rocks of Zion

Views

Walk behind the museum to get a beautiful panoramic view of some of Zion’s most towering peaks, including the West Temple and the Altar of Sacrifice, which is so named due to the red streaks that appear to flow down the white face of the mountain.

Pa’rus Trail

This stop also has access to the Pa’rus trail. If you access the trail from this stop, you’ll be joining it in the middle of the trail. You can go north to Canyon Junction or south to the Visitor Center.

Shuttle Stop 3: Canyon Junction

Beautiful Canyon view in Zion

The shuttle ONLY stops at Shuttle Stop 3 on the way back toward the Visitors Center and NOT on the way toward the Temple of Sinawava.

This stop is located at the junction of Zion Canyon Drive and the East side of the park.

There is not much at this stop but it does give access to the Pa’rus Trail and the Virgin River.

Shuttle Stop 4: Court of the Patriarchs

Court of the Patriarch rock formation

Viewpoint

Get off at Shuttle Stop 4 and you can walk to the quick viewpoint of the Court of Patriarchs featuring five mountain peaks: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, The Sentinel, and Mt. Moroni.

The viewpoint is truly breathtaking, and the short walk to it is easily doable for most.

Sand Bench Trail

Also from this shuttle stop you can access the Sand Bench Trail, a 5.6-mile loop rated as moderate with views of the Court of Patriarchs. This trail is the lone trail in the park used for horse rides, operated by Canyon Trail Rides. Most hikers avoid this trail due to the manure.

Shuttle Stop 5: Zion Lodge

zion lodge

Shuttle Stop 5, the Zion Lodge Stop, is a very popular stop along Zion Canyon Drive. It features some incredible hikes and the Zion Lodge which is the only place to stop and grab a bite to eat in the park!

Zion Lodge

Zion Lodge has two restaurants, the Red Rock Grill (sit-down, open year-round), and the Castle Dome Cafe (open seasonally).

The Zion Lodge also offers a variety of comfortable accommodations with suites, cabins, and hotel rooms. Imagine waking up to the views of Zion National Park right outside your window!

  • Learn the best places to lodge and camp at Zion National Park.
Lower Emerald Pools Trail
Lower Emerald Pools Trail, Zion National Park

Emerald Pools

Also at Shuttle Stop 5 is the wonderful Emerald Pools. Emerald Pools is in fact three separate pools: the lower, middle, and upper. Each is well worth visiting.

The Lower Emerald Pools hike is 1.2 miles round-trip and rated easy, most of the trail is paved. Middle Emerald Pools can be accessed from Lower Emerald Pools and has a total distance of 2 miles round-trip, and is a moderate hike. The Upper Emerald Pools can be accessed from Middle Emerald Pools and has a total distance of 3 miles round-trip, and is a strenuous hike.

Upper Emerald Pool
The Upper Emerald Pool

Kayenta Trail

From the Emerald Pools, you can head back towards Shuttle Stop 5, or head north on the Kayenta Trail, from the Middle Emerald Pools trail, and head towards Shuttle Stop 6. This point-to-point trail is 2.2 miles and is rated as moderate. However, the views are truly stunning and this is a trail we recommend hiking after going to Emerald Pools.

Grotto Trail Picnic Area

Grotto Trail

The Grotto Trail is a paved 0.5-mile easy trail that takes you from Shuttle Stop 5 to Shuttle Stop 6. This trail connects Zion Lodge to The Grotto Picnic Area (don’t be confused by the name, there is not an actual Grotto here).

Sand Bench Trail

The Sand Bench Trail is also accessible from Shuttle Stop 5. As mentioned above, this is typically considered a horse trail.

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Shuttle Stop 6: The Grotto

Kayenta Trail
Kayenta Trail, Zion National Park

Whether you access Shuttle Stop 6 from the shuttle, the Grotto Trail, or the Kayenta Trail, this is one of Zion’s most popular stops!

Angels Landing

The incredibly famous Angel’s Landing hike starts at this shuttle stop!

Angels Landing Rock Formation
Angels Landing

Angel’s Landing is a strenuous 5.4-mile hike that requires a permit to hike through the chains section to Angel’s Landing. Permits can be reserved through the seasonal permit lottery or the day before the lottery.

Vie

If you can’t acquire a permit, don’t worry. You can still hike a large portion of this trail without one. Anyone can hike to Scout Lookout, a 4-mile strenuous hike that follows the Angel’s Landing Trail up to a beautiful lookout. From here, those with permits can continue to hike Angel’s Landing through the chains section. Others can enjoy the view at Scout Lookout before heading back down to the Grotto.

Kayenta & Grotto Trails

The Kayenta & Grotto trails can also be accessed from Shuttle Stop 6.

Shuttle Stop 7: Weeping Rock

Weeping Rock in Zion

This shuttle stop is OPEN again after being previously closed due to rockslides.

At Shuttle Stop 7, visitors can take in the views of Weeping Rock, Angel’s Landing, The Great White Throne, Big Bend, and Cable Mountain!

Weeping Rock is a naturally porous rock that has water continuously seeping from it, giving it the appearance that it is weeping. This unique rock draws its fair share of visitors and can be accessed from a short trail.

This wonderful stop requires a 0.3-mile out-and-back easy trail to the viewpoint.

Shuttle Stop 8: Big Bend

View of big bend

Shuttles Stop 8 ONLY stop at this stop going down the canyon and not up.

This stop does not feature any services like restrooms, water fountains, or any well-known trails. However, it is a beautiful spot to view wildlife such as peregrine falcons, California condors, and raptors.

It is also a well-known rock climbing area and a great spot to view Angel’s Landing, the Great White Throne, Cable Mountain, and the Virgin River.

Shuttle Stop 9: Temple of Sinawava

Riverside Walk
Riverside Walk, Zion National Park

The most popular stop

Shuttle Stop 9, The Temple of Sinawava, is the last stop and probably the most popular. The Temple of Sinawava is a naturally formed rock amphitheater and is the entrance to the famous Narrows hike. The views of the river next to towering rock walls are incredible!

The Riverside Walk Trail

To access the Narrows you have to use the Riverside Walk Trail.

Riverside Walk is an easy, paved trail that is 1.9 miles out and back. This trail takes you along the Virgin River to the entrance of the Narrows. The walls of the canyon get closer and closer together as you walk toward the end of the trail. When you reach the end, you are at the entrance of the Narrows, you have to get in the water to continue hiking.

The Riverside Walk Trail is the most popular and accessible trail in the park. Anyone can do it, and everyone should!

Zion Canyon in the snow

The Narrows

Hikers can hike the Narrows for a few miles or the full 9.5 miles, round-trip. This hike is rated as strenuous as you have to walk through the Virgin River for the entirety of the trail. The Narrows is a slot canyon that is incredible to walk through but can also be very dangerous.

Always check the weather before you go. Never enter a slot canyon when there is a chance of rain. Flash floods are common and can be deadly.

zion narrows
The wonderful Narrows hike

The Virgin River often has toxic bacteria that can be extremely harmful, check the conditions before you go.

It may be worth renting dry suits, neoprene socks, and walking staffs before entering. There are many rental options in Springdale, just outside the Zion Entrance.

You DO NOT need a permit to hike the Narrows when entering from the Riverside Walk.

There is an option for backcountry enthusiasts to hike the Narrows from the top down, but this requires camping overnight in the canyon. It also requires a permit.

Do I need a shuttle ticket or a reservation?

You do not need a shuttle ticket or reservation to use the shuttle system in Zion National Park. However you do need to pay the park entrance fee to enter the park which is $35 per car, this pass is valid for 7 days.

Can I drive in Zion Canyon?

During the busy season of March – November, you cannot drive Zion Canyon Road. The Road is closed at the Canyon Junction Stop and only shuttles are allowed to drive past this point during the busy months. However, during the winter, the road opens up to cars while the shuttle is not running. This is typically December – March (with some exceptions for Holidays).

While the Zion Canyon Road may be closed to private vehicles, there are other roads you can drive on, including a beautiful scenic drive.

How often do the shuttles run?

Shuttles arrive at each stop every few minutes. This makes it an easy and reliable way to get around Zion Canyon. Be mindful to pay attention to when the last shuttle will be leaving for the day. There is nothing worse than having to walk the full 9 miles back to the visitor’s center when you did not plan to!

Do I have to pay to ride the shuttle?

You do not need to pay to ride the shuttles in Zion National Park.

Shuttle Bus

Can I ride the Springdale shuttle and still access Zion Canyon?

Yes, you can park in Springdale and ride the Springdale Shuttle into Zion National Park. It will let you out at the Visitor’s Center where you can then board the Zion Shuttle. This is a good way to avoid crowded parking lots inside the park. This shuttle is also free to ride and has many stops throughout Springdale, which you can see in the infographic at the beginning of this article.

Parking in Springdale is not free. Pay attention to parking signs and make sure to pay the meters. It is approximately $25 to park for a full day.

How Long is the Zion Canyon Shuttle ride?

The ride from the Visitor’s Center to the last stop at the Temple of Sinawava typically takes 45 minutes, including stops at each shuttle stop. Plan on at least an hour and a half of travel time round trip.

Do the Shuttle Stops Have Bathrooms?

Shuttle stops 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, & 9 have bathrooms and water fountains to fill your water bottles. Take advantage of these services. The days can get hot. Stops 3, 4, and 8 do not have services.

What else do I need to know?

As mentioned earlier, Zion National Park is crowded with visitors! Planning and navigating a trip to Zion National Park can be frustrating because of its popularity. The crowds and shuttle system can be confusing to navigate.

Lucky for you, we have you covered. Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites, yet still, avoid crowds (as much as possible). 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!

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We’re Matt and Cheryl, and we’re in the Rockies. :) We are both teachers. Cheryl teaches special ed, and Matt teaches American history. We love the American West and the national parks. We want to help you have a great vacation on your next trip to the Rockies.

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