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Visiting Zion National Park has made it to the bucket list of many. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular National Parks in the world. Zion is gorgeous, it’s accessible, and it has activities that people of all ages and abilities can do. 

But, it’s not without its challenges. The crowds, the heat, and even the variety of options can all become overwhelming obstacles while visiting here. But, with a little bit of planning and strategy, these challenges can be overcome. Here are 5 ways to do it:

1. Stay Hydrated 

This can’t be stressed enough. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are among the most common preventable health issues in the Park. Plan on drinking about 1 liter every 2 hours you are outside hiking or biking. 

More than just water, you also need to replenish with electrolytes. A good rule of thumb for electrolytes is to mix a 1:1 ratio of a sports drink like Gatorade and water. A better option is to use a simple electrolyte packet that doesn’t contain sugar. Brands like LMNT and Ultima have sugar-free options. We like LMNT because it loads you up with sodium – exactly what you need when you are sweating profusely on the way up to Scout Lookout. 

The best way to do all the above? Get yourself a 3-liter hydration bladder, fill it with 3 liters of ice water and dump in two packets of electrolyte mix. You’re good to go for 6-7 hours as long as you keep drinking. 

2. Avoid the Heat

This might seem impossible when you are visiting Zion National Park in July. However, Zion Canyon’s unique geography and the natural desert climate provide some great options for cool temps on even the hottest of days. 

The valley floor of Zion Canyon, including Springdale, sits at the bottom of cliffs towering above 2,000 to 3,000 feet on both sides. So, when the sun rises above the earth’s horizon, it still has another 2 hours to rise above the canyon rim and start heating the canyon bottom. Conversely, the sun sets behind the canyon walls about 2 hours earlier than below the actual horizon. This means that during the bookends of the day there are several hours of ambient light in the bottom of the canyon without the crushing heat of the sun. These are the absolute best times of day in Zion Canyon – the golden hours where the light is best and the temps are cool. Try to schedule your outdoor activities during these times if you can.

Of course, the sides of either canyon receive light earlier and later than the canyon floor. This means that you should be choosy about which hikes you do in the morning versus the evening. For example, hikes on the east side of the canyon such as The Watchman are best done in the morning. Whereas hikes on the west side such as Emerald Pools or Scout Lookout & Angel’s Landing are best done in the evening. 

3. Get with the locals

Most of the millions of annual visitors to Zion National Park experience it with little to no interaction with the locals, except maybe for the friendly Zion Shuttle bus driver. While you’ll still enjoy the beautiful scenery, spending time chatting or touring with a local can reveal a much richer experience. 

It can honestly be as simple as talking with your server at one of the local restaurants (Bit n Spur and Oscar’s are our favorites for their local’s vibe) or stopping to visit one of the volunteers along the trail inside Zion National Park. Zion locals are knowledgeable and eager to provide info, advice, and off-the-grid knowledge. You might even learn a bit of interesting history about Springdale. 

But the best way to learn from the locals is to book a tour. There are dozens of options when it comes to booking a tour, ranging from ATVs to horseback riding, from hiking to Canyoneering, and from photography to scenic tours. Each tour will give you direct access to a knowledgeable local guide while doing something incredibly fun. 

Here at Ride Zion Adventures, you’ll spend time with us – riding ebikes and hiking through some of the most stunning scenery around. All the while, we’ll share what we’ve learned about this incredible place with you. That is our passion and it’s the very reason we started a Zion guiding business. 

4. Rent (or bring) an eBike

The most enjoyable way to experience Zion Canyon is by riding an eBike. The combination of riding along the mostly empty Scenic Drive along the canyon floor with Zion’s towering sandstone walls soaring up on both sides of you is not to be missed. 

If you’d prefer to do your own thing and not take a guided tour, Springdale has many bike rental shops to choose from. We recommend Utah eBike Adventures, Blue Raven eBikes, and Zion Peddler. All of these rental shops offer Class 1 eBikes, the only class allowed in Zion National Park and up the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive along with the Park Shuttles. 

Ebikes are also allowed in other areas of Zion National Park, specifically the Pa’Rus Trail and any of the other paved roads in the park. The exception is that bikes of any kind are prohibited within the two tunnels along Mt. Carmel Highway on the east side of Zion.

Ebikes give you the freedom to roam throughout the park without being constrained by shuttle schedules, lines, and crowds. They open up space around you, allowing you to enjoy Zion’s grandeur in ways that are just not possible from inside a closed vehicle. 

5. Explore the Greater (and Lesser) Zion

The vast majority of Zion’s 5 million annual visitors have one goal in mind – to visit Zion Canyon and its iconic hikes such as The Narrows. A tiny percentage of those tourists visit the stunning scenery of Greater Zion and other areas of Zion such as Kolob Canyon, Lava Point, or the East Zion wilderness. 

So, if you want to avoid the crowds and experience something truly special, try incorporating these other locations into your trip. Here’s a brief list of these amazing places:

Greater Zion

  • Water Canyon
  • Gooseberry Mesa
  • Little Mesa
  • Snow Canyon State Park
  • Yant’s Flat

Lesser-known Zion

  • Kolob Canyon
  • Hop Valley Trail
  • Lava Point
  • East Zion wilderness trails

Hopefully, these 5 tips will help make your trip to Zion both memorable and successful. It is truly an amazing place to spend any time of the year (more on that in another blog post). 

If you want some assistance with combining all of these points into one amazing day, give us a call to reserve one of our tour experiences. We’d love to help you maximize your time in Zion!


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