Zion for First-Timers

Photo by Don Graham

Classic hikes and activities in Utah's most visited national park

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Zion translates to “The Promised Land,” and that means for you some of the most spectacular hiking of your lifetime and impossible landscapes you will never forget. Carved by water and time beyond the stretch of the imagination, Zion National Park is a canyon that invites you to participate in the very forces that created it.

Zion National Park’s soaring towers and massive monoliths create a spectacular grandeur. Over 100 years old, Zion is Utah’s most visited park. There are numerous easy, self-guided trails and more adventurous or strenuous hikes can be found in the park.


The Emerald Pools in the park is a relatively easy three-mile, round-trip, signature hike and is fun for the whole family. Likewise for the accessible Riverwalk at the gateway to the Narrows. Or choose a more strenuous adventure in The Narrows. Taller and older kids will be able to join you for this hike in the Virgin River itself. With a little extra time, hire an experienced guide and grab a permit and hike even deeper to access the magnificent Subway section of the Narrows. Angel’s Landing is a strenuous 5 miles and can take several hours, but if you’ve given yourself the time, this is a powerful hike you’ll never forget.


Zion National Park has become a favorite in this exciting sport. Dozens of canyons offer route finding, rappelling, swimming and hike challenges for beginners to advanced. Permit required.


All three in-park campgrounds are popular, so make your reservations early. There are also several campgrounds a short drive outside the park. Zion lodging abounds in gateway communities along Highway 9 and in St. George.

Additional Park Activities

Backpacking, bicycling, birding, horse-back riding, rafting and ranger-led programs.

Getting There

There are actually two entrances to Zion on Highway 9. From Las Vegas, you’ll arrive at the western entrance, 33 miles east of I-15. The northern Kolob Canyons section is accessible off I-15, 18 miles south of Cedar City.

You’ll follow the Zion Park Scenic Byway (State Route 9) through the towns of Hurricane, LaVerkin, Virgin, Rockdale, and Springdale. Each town has a special story to share, as the byway carves through the red rock of the Virgin River corridor.

Side Trips

Quail Creek Reservoir State Park boasts some of the warmest waters in the state. Sand Hollow State Park offers boating and fishing or ride the dunes of Sand Mountain on an off-highway vehicle and camp in one of two developed campgrounds.

This itinerary is compliments of the Utah Office of Tourism.

At A Glance

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