20 Fun & Unique Things to Do in Zion National Park, Utah | 2024 (with Photos)

Katarina P.

Katarina P. - Travel Writer

Published: June 29, 2023

Hey there! I'm Katarina, a travel enthusiast who had an incredible time exploring Zion National Park in Utah. With my love for adventure and discovery, I've curated a list of 20 fun and unique things to do in this breathtaking national park that will surely make your trip unforgettable.

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park is a breathtaking natural wonder that attracts millions of visitors each year. It's about a two-hour drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park or a four-hour drive from Salt Lake City, with stunning backdrops along Interstate 15.

While there are many popular attractions and hiking trails in the park, there are also several hidden gems that are just waiting to be discovered.

In this article, we'll highlight 20 fun and unique things to do in Zion National Park, from famous hikes to lesser-known trails, and from exploring the canyon floor to stargazing at the night sky.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Hike The Narrows

Top Choice Hotel

Desert Pearl Inn

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Switchback Grille.

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Switchback Grille

Best Time to Visit

Spring and fall offer ideal weather for exploring.

Average Temperature

Moderate climate with mild winters and warm summers.

Transportation Options

Hiking, shuttle service, private vehicles, biking, horseback riding.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

When visiting Zion National Park in the United States of America, immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of the natural wonders that surround you. Take a scenic hike along the Zion Narrows and let the towering red cliffs and cascading waterfalls leave you in awe.

For a truly unforgettable experience, don't miss the opportunity to hike to Angel's Landing, where you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the park that will take your breath away. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a novice adventurer, Zion National Park offers something for everyone, making it the perfect destination to reconnect with nature and create lasting memories.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Sturdy hiking shoes
  2. Comfortable clothing for outdoor activities
  3. Sunscreen and a hat
  4. A refillable water bottle
  5. Snacks and packed lunch
  6. Map or guidebook of Zion National Park
  7. Camera or smartphone for capturing the beautiful views
  8. Binoculars for wildlife spotting
  9. Backpack or daypack for carrying essentials
  10. First aid kit and any necessary medications

What Not to Miss

  1. The Narrows: A stunning hiking trail through narrow canyons and along the Virgin River.

  2. Angels Landing: A challenging hike with breathtaking views of the park from its summit.

  3. Emerald Pools: A series of beautiful and refreshing pools and waterfalls.

  4. Observation Point: A less crowded alternative to Angels Landing, offering incredible panoramic views.

  5. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive: A scenic road that takes you deep into the heart of the park, showcasing its natural beauty.

  6. Weeping Rock: A unique rock formation where water drips from the cliff face, creating a mesmerizing sight.

  7. Riverside Walk: An easy and picturesque trail that follows the Virgin River, perfect for a leisurely stroll.

  8. Canyon Overlook Trail: A short but rewarding hike that offers stunning views of Zion Canyon.

  9. Kolob Canyons: A separate section of Zion National Park with its own set of beautiful hiking trails.

  10. Wildlife Spotting: Keep an eye out for mule deer, bighorn sheep, and a variety of bird species while exploring the park.

  11. Delicate Arch: A famous natural arch formation in Arches National Park, located near Zion National Park.

  12. Watchman Trail: A moderate hike that rewards you with stunning vistas of the park and the Virgin River.

  13. East Rim Trail: A longer backpacking trail that takes you through a diverse landscape and offers great views.

  14. Hidden Canyon: A narrow and adventurous trail with stunning views and rock scrambling.

  15. The Subway: A unique hike that requires permits and can be done as a technical canyoneering adventure or a day hike.

  16. Weeping Rock Trail: A short but scenic walk to experience the rock's water seepage and hanging gardens.

  17. Taylor Creek Trail: A peaceful hike that leads to a double alcove arch and ancient rock art.

  18. Checkerboard Mesa: A fascinating geological feature visible from the road, resembling a checkerboard pattern.

  19. Cedar Breaks National Monument: Another natural wonder nearby, known for its vibrant amphitheater and scenic drives.

  20. Stargazing: Zion National Park is a designated dark sky park, offering excellent opportunities for stargazing.

What to Avoid

  1. Crowded Hiking Trails
  2. Off-Trail Exploring
  3. Feeding or Approaching Wildlife
  4. Swimming in Restricted Areas
  5. Vandalizing or Removing Natural Resources
  6. Ignoring Weather Warnings and Safety Guidelines
  7. Leaving Trash Behind
  8. Overlooking Rest Areas and Hydration Needs
  9. Not Respecting Quiet Zones and Wilderness Areas
  10. Failing to Plan Ahead and Make Reservations

1. Hike the Narrows

Hike the Narrows

The Narrows is one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park and for good reason. It takes visitors through a narrow slot canyon, with towering walls of red rock rising on either side. The hike can be done in a day or as an overnight backpacking trip.

The Virgin River carved the canyon walls, creating stunning formations and patterns that change as the light shifts throughout the day. Visitors should be prepared to get their feet wet and navigate through rocky terrain.

Hiking through the Narrows requires problem-solving and physical endurance, but the sense of accomplishment at the end is well worth it.

2. Hike Angel's Landing

Angel's Landing

Next up on our list of things to do in Zion National Park, we have Hike Angel's Landing. This is one of Zion National Park's most famous hiking trails. Angel's Landing is known for its steep elevation gain and narrow ridges, offering hikers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding canyon and valley.

The trail takes hikers up to the top of a towering peak, with the entire canyon visible from the summit.

The hike up to Angel's Landing is a challenging and rewarding experience, leading to one of the most iconic views in the National Park system.

3. Take the shuttle for a Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

 Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

Zion's free shuttle service operates from early spring until late fall, transporting visitors throughout the park's main canyon.

You'll cruise past the Virgin River and marvel at iconic landmarks like Angel's Landing, the Court of the Patriarchs, and the Twin Brothers mountain along the way.

The shuttle service runs on a continuous loop, stopping at nine different locations throughout the park.

It provides access to some of the most popular hiking trails in the park, including Angels Landing and The Narrows.

While the shuttle is operating, private vehicles are not allowed to enter the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

4. Hike to the colorful Emerald Pools

the colorful Emerald Pools

The Emerald Pools Trail is perfect for anyone looking for a beautiful and moderate hike. The trail takes hikers through a variety of ecosystems and the pools themselves are a sight to behold, with crystal-clear water that shimmers in the sunlight.

The Lower Emerald Pool Trail is the easiest paved trail, while the journey to the Middle Emerald Pools and Upper Emerald Pools is more challenging.

While the Emerald Pools Trail is popular, it is less crowded than some of the park's more famous trails, such as Angels Landing and The Narrows. This allows visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the park in a more peaceful environment.

5. Stay at Zion National Park Lodge

Zion National Park Lodge

Zion National Park Lodge is one of the most popular places to stay for visitors to the area.

The Zion Lodge is situated in the heart of the park and offers guests a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of Zion National Park up close.

The Zion National Park Lodge is located at the foot of towering sandstone cliffs and is surrounded by lush vegetation, offering guests a chance to immerse themselves in the stunning natural surroundings.

Other outstanding accommodation options are the nearby Cable Mountain Lodge and Majestic View Lodge.

6. Watch the sunrise or sunset at the Watchman Overlook

 sunset at the Watchman Overlook

The Watchman Overlook is another one of many fun things to do in Zion National Park. This is one of the most popular spots in the park to take in the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

The views from this vantage point are breathtaking, and watching the sunrise or sunset from here is an unforgettable experience.

From this spot, visitors can see the Watchman Peak towering over the canyon, the Virgin River winding its way through the valley, and the surrounding red rock formations glowing in the early morning or late evening light.

Standing at the edge of the overlook and watching the sun rise or set is a humbling experience that reminds us of the power and beauty of the natural world.

7. Make your way to Weeping Rock

Weeping Rock

The Weeping Rock Trail is a popular hiking trail, which is perfect for anyone looking for a beautiful and easy hike.

It's a paved path leading to a natural spring that drips water down the rock face, creating a serene and peaceful environment.

The Weeping Rock Trail offers visitors a chance to see some of the park's most beautiful features, including towering cliffs, lush vegetation, and stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

The Weeping Rock itself is a natural spring dripping down the rock face created by water that seeps through the porous sandstone of the cliffs above.

8. Explore the Zion Human History Museum

Zion Human History Museum

The Zion Human History Museum showcases the rich history and culture of the region, including the stories of the Native American tribes, early settlers, and pioneers who shaped the area.

Visitors can learn about the early Native American tribes who lived in the area and about the arrival of Mormon pioneers in the mid-1800s.

The Human History Museum also highlights the efforts of early conservationists, including John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt, to protect the natural beauty of the park for future generations.

9. Take the family along the Riverside Walk

Riverside Walk

The Riverside Walk is an easy and family-friendly trail that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding natural beauty.

The trailhead for the Riverside Walk is located at the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop, which is the final stop on the Zion Shuttle route.

From there, visitors can take the paved trail, which follows the Virgin River for approximately two miles (3.2 km) round trip.

The trail offers several opportunities to stop and take in the stunning scenery, including viewpoints of cascading waterfalls and tranquil pools.

10. Visit the Zion Nature Center

the Zion Nature Center

The Zion Nature Center is dedicated to educating visitors about the natural wonders of the park, the diverse plant and animal life, geology, and ecology.

Visitors can learn about the various ecosystems that make up the park, including the riparian, desert, and woodland habitats.

There are also exhibits featuring live animals and plant specimens that provide a hands-on learning experience.

The facility is situated in a peaceful and scenic setting, surrounded by towering red rock formations and stunning vistas.

11. Zion-Mt Carmel Highway Scenic Drive

 Zion-Mt Carmel Highway Scenic Drive

The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway Scenic Drive is a spectacular journey through the heart of Zion National Park. This 19 km stretch of road takes visitors through towering canyons, soaring peaks, and stunning rock formations that are sure to leave a lasting impression on all who experience it.

The Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel connects the South and East entrances of the park. It was carved through solid rock and features windows that provide breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery.

One of the most popular viewpoints is the Checkerboard Mesa.

12. Checkerboard Mesa and the East Side of Zion National Park

Checkerboard Mesa

Checkerboard Mesa is a unique rock formation located in Zion National Park. Its name comes from the distinctive checkerboard-like pattern that covers the surface of the sandstone cliffs, which was formed due to the weathering of the rock over millions of years.

Checkerboard Mesa offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, which is a combination of rugged mountains, deep canyons, and diverse flora and fauna. It provides a glimpse into the fascinating geological history of the region.

13. Visit the Kolob Canyons

the Kolob Canyons

Kolob Canyons** is a remote and lesser-known section of the park with towering red rock formations, deep canyons, and breathtaking vistas. There are several trails in the area, including the Timber Creek Trail and the Taylor Creek Trail.

The Timber Creek Overlook Trail is a moderate hike that starts at Timber Creek Overlook and leads to a viewpoint offering a stunning panoramic view of the lower Kolob Canyons.

The trail takes hikers through a forest of ponderosa pines and quaking aspen trees. The Taylor Creek Trail is an easy hike and is suitable for families with children.

14. Visit the stunning Court of the Patriarchs' Viewpoint

the stunning Court of the Patriarchs' Viewpoint

The Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint is a scenic overlook located in Zion National Park. The viewpoint offers a stunning panoramic view of the sandstone cliffs that form the Court of the Patriarchs, named after the biblical figures Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The sandstone cliffs tower above the valley below, reaching heights of up to 6,700 feet. The cliffs are brilliantly illuminated by the sun at different times of the day, casting a range of colors and shadows across the landscape.

Visitors can also see the Virgin River winding its way through the valley, adding to the already stunning scenery.

15. See the night sky above Lava Point Campground

night sky above Lava Point Campground

Watchman Campground (just inside the park entrance) and South Campground are the two main camping areas in Zion National Park, and both offer beautiful natural surroundings.

Lava Point Campground is a remote and picturesque campground situated at an elevation of 7,900 feet, known for its stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

The Lava Point campground is located near the West Rim Trail, with stunning views of the canyons and surrounding landscape. The campground allows you to experience the tranquility and beauty of the wilderness.

Spending a night under the stars and canyon walls of Zion National Park is an experience definitely worth pursuing.

16. Check out the "Subway"

The Left Fork of North Creek, commonly known as "The Subway," is a unique and popular hiking destination in Zion. The name "The Subway" refers to the unusual tunnel-like formation in the canyon that resembles a subway tube.

The Subway is accessible via a 9-mile round-trip hike that requires some technical skills, such as scrambling over rocks, wading through water, and rappelling down a 20-foot waterfall. The hike is strenuous and requires a permit from the park service.

However, the effort is well worth it for those who want to experience the beauty of this unique part of Zion National Park.

17. Kolob Terrace Road and Grapevine Trail

Kolob Terrace Road

Kolob Terrace Road is a scenic drive that winds through the upper reaches of Zion National Park.

The road stretches for 24 miles and features stunning vistas of the surrounding landscape, including towering sandstone cliffs, lush forests, and alpine meadows.

Along the way, visitors can stop at several overlooks to take in the breathtaking views.

The road also provides access to a variety of hiking trails, including the Grapevine Trail, which begins at the end of Kolob Terrace Road.

18. Canyoneering and Rock Climbing

Canyoneering and Rock Climbing

Canyoneering is one of popular activities in Utah, and the park is home to some of the best slot canyons in the world. Slot canyons are narrow, twisting canyons that are carved out of sandstone by water.

One of the popular slot canyons here is The Narrows, which is over 16 miles long and involves wading and swimming through the Virgin River.

Zion National Park is also home to some of the best rock-climbing routes in the world. The park features sheer drop-offs and towering sandstone cliffs that offer a variety of climbing challenges.

Some of the most popular climbing routes in the park include Moonlight Buttress, Prodigal Sun, and The Great White Throne.

19. Spot Bighorn sheep at Canyon Overlook

Bighorn sheep at Canyon Overlook

Located on the east side of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, Canyon Overlook is a short but scenic trail that offers panoramic views of Zion Canyon and the surrounding area. The trail is a 1-mile round trip hike, which is suitable for all skill levels.

The overlook is also a great spot to watch for bighorn sheep, which are often spotted in the area. In addition to bighorn sheep, visitors to Canyon Overlook may also see other wildlife, such as mule deer, golden eagles, and peregrine falcons.

20. Take a day trip to Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

A day trip to Bryce Canyon from Zion National Park is a great way to experience some of the unique landscapes and natural beauty of Southern Utah.

Both national parks are located near one another, so when you're visiting Zion national park, a day trip to Bryce can easily be accomplished by car or shuttle.

Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its distinctive geological formations called hoodoos. One of the most popular hikes is the Navajo Loop Trail, which takes you through the heart of the hoodoos and offers stunning views at every turn.

You can also take a scenic drive through the park, or even go horseback riding.

FAQs About Things to Do in Zion National Park, Utah

Let's look at some frequently asked questions relating to things to do in Zion National Park.

What can you do in Zion if you don't hike?

There are still plenty of activities to enjoy in the beautiful Zion National Park if you don't want to hike. The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, for example, offers stunning views of the park's red rock formations. You can also take the reliable Zion shuttle and get easy-access views.

Zion offers guided horseback rides that take you through scenic areas of the park. Many paved bike trails allow you to explore the park on two wheels. The Pa'rus Trail near the South Campground and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is accessible to bicycles.

Is 2 days enough in Zion?

Yes, two days in Zion National Park is enough time to see and experience some of the park's highlights. The Zion shuttle is a good way to see many of the highlights in the park. Several popular hiking trails can be done in a day, such as Angels Landing, Canyon Overlook Trail, and The Narrows.

However, if you want to take your time and explore more trails, two days may not be enough.

What should I do if I have one day in Zion?

If you have only one day to spend in Zion National Park, start early in the morning to beat the crowds and make the most of your day. Enter the park and head to the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Take the Zion Shuttle from the Visitor Center to the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Get off at the Zion Lodge stop and hike the Emerald Pools Trail.

What should I do first in Zion National Park?

The first thing you should do in Zion National Park is take the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Then, go on a hike, bike the Pa'rus Trail, or visit the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and the Human History Museum.

The Zion Canyon Shuttle is the best way to get around when visiting Zion National Park. The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is arguably as scenic as the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive but provides a starkly different perspective. You can also catch the sunset at Canyon Overlook Trail.

Summing Up: Fun & Unique Things to Do in Zion National Park, Utah

One of the country's most popular national parks, Zion National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors.

From hiking to Angels Landing or going on a Zion Canyon scenic drive to stargazing and mountain biking, there's no shortage of fun and unique things to do in Zion National Park.

We hope that our list of 20 activities has inspired you to explore some of the lesser-known attractions and create unforgettable memories during your visit.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip and explore Zion National Park today to discover all of the amazing things that this breathtaking destination has to offer.