Zion National Park

Real-time image of The Towers and Temples of the Virgin at Zion National Park. Refresh to see the most current image.

The Basics:

Zion National Park is located near Springdale, in southern Utah. The most prominent feature of the 229-square-mile park is Zion Canyon, which is reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone that has been cut through by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The Canyon runs approximately 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep. The road into Zion Canyon is 6 miles long and ends at the Temple of Sinawava, a vertical-walled natural amphitheater nearly 3,000 feet deep. At the Temple the canyon narrows and a foot-trail continues to the mouth of the Zion Narrows, a gorge as narrow as 20 feet wide and up to 2,000 feet tall. The Zion Canyon road is served by a free shuttle bus from early April to late October and by private vehicles the other months of the year. Other roads in Zion are open to private vehicles year-round.

Because Zion National Park is located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, it has a unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. The park’s four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches. The lowest elevation is 3,666 ft at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 ft at Horse Ranch Mountain. The image above is a real-time image of The Towers and Temples of the Virgin, a rock formation that rises over 3,500 ft from the canyon floor. The web-cam taking the image is housed at the Park Headquarters in Zion Canyon.

An important note: Zion is known for a wide range of weather conditions. Temperatures vary with changes in elevation and day/night temperatures may differ by over 30°F. So, be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out!

Popular Trails:

  1. The Narrows:

  2. The “Wall Street” section of Zion Narrows

    The Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon. In The Narrows, walking in the shadow of its soaring walls, sandstone grottos, natural springs, and hanging gardens, can be an unforgettable wilderness experience. In fact, hiking the Narrows was rated # 5 in the
    National Geographic ranking of America’s Best 100 Adventures. However, this is hardly a trail – the route is the river. At least 60% of the hike is spent wading, walking, and sometimes swimming in the stream. The current is swift, the water is cold, and the rocks underfoot are slippery. Flash flooding and hypothermia are constant dangers. Good planning, proper equipment, and sound judgment are essential for a safe and successful trip. Click HERE to see what hiking the narrows is like!

    Permits are required and group size is limited to a maximum of 12 people. However, permits are not issued when the flow is greater than 120 cubic feet per second. In addition to the normal weather forecast, the National Weather Service also issues a flash flood potential rating and monitors the flow rate of the Virgin River.

    There are a total of 80 permits allotted per day. 40 hikers are permitted through the online reservation system and 40 hikers are permitted as walk-in. Although you can get a permit the same day you are hiking, you will have better luck obtaining one of the few issued permits if you get your walk-in permit the day prior to the actual day of the hike. For more information call the backcountry desk at 1.435.772.0170 or log onto the parks website and use their online permit system.

    Zion Subway

  3. The Subway:

  4. The Subway, more officially known as the Left Fork, requires a permit and involves extensive route finding since a long approach involving slippery stream crossings and rock scrambling is necessary for access. The Subway is so named for its tube-like, undercut slot canyons. Click HERE to see a short video of The Subway Hike.

  5. Angels Landing

  6. Angels Landing is a rock formation measuring around 1,208-foot tall in Zion National Park. A trail, cut into solid rock in 1926, leads to the top of Angels Landing and provides a spectacular view of Zion Canyon. The trail to Angels Landing is 2.4 miles long. Scout Lookout is generally the turnaround point for those who are unwilling to make the final summit push to the top of Angels Landing. The last half-mile of the trail is strenuous and littered with sharp drop offs and narrow paths. Chains to grip are provided for portions of the last half-mile to the top at 5,785 feet. Click HERE to see the video!

    According to the National Park Service, “The route to Angels Landing involves travel along a steep, narrow ridge with support chains anchored intermittently along the route. Footing can be slippery even when the rock is dry. Unevenly surfaced steps are cut into the rock with major cliff dropoffs adjacent. Keep off when it is wet, icy or thunderstorms are in the area. Plan to be off before dark. Younger children should skip this trail; older children must be closely supervised.” The National Park Service website officially recognizes five fatalities along Angels Landing.

  7. Kolob Arch:

  8. Kolob Arch is thought to be the second longest natural arch in the world. In 2006, it was measured at 287.4 ± 2 feet (87.6 m), which is slightly shorter than the Landscape Arch in Arches National Park. Kolob Arch can be reached via one of two hiking trails, either of which is seven miles long and results in a round trip of fourteen miles. The arch can also be reached from Ice Box Canyon, a canyoneering route in this section of Zion National Park. The arch is set close to a cliffside that it frames.

  9. And more!

  10. Seven popular trails with round-trip times of half an hour (Weeping Rock) to 4 hours (Angels Landing) are found in Zion Canyon. Orderville Canyon, a narrower slot canyon, is also popular. In the Kolob Canyons section of the park (near Cedar City), Taylor Creek (4 hours round trip) is also popular. Other often-used backcountry trails include the West Rim and LaVerkin Creek. Also, Zion is a center for rock climbing, with short walls like Touchstone, Moonlight Buttress, Spaceshot, and Prodigal Son being very popular.

Zion National Park Resources: