Self-guided tour of Zion National Park
THEPARKGUIDE is releasing a BETA tour of the park in July of 2021. It will be available for download through the TravelStorys App for a $9.99 BETA price.
Tour: The tour covers all of the paved roads in Zion National Park! It even includes the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which is only accessible by shuttle bus during the high season, May to October. The tour gives you detailed information about views, stops, and trail heads for access to the and all park facilities and visitor centers.
The Drive: Exploring Zion National Park can include visiting all four of the distinct areas of the park:
- Zion Canyon: including the Main Visitor Center, Human History Museum, and all of the stops along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive which are only accessible by the free shuttle bus.
- Zion-Mount Carmel Highway: this is the eastern side of the park, with incredible views from higher up than the canyon, hikes and walks through the slickrock, potential Desert Bighorn sightings, and access east toward Bryce Canyon National Park.
- Kolob Canyons: This area is easily accessed from the I 15 and has astounding views of the finger canyons that are the western edge of the whole Colorado Plateau. This area has the highest plateaus in the park, covered by forests and deeply cut by erosion. Not to be missed if you are on your way past on the I 15 anyway.
- Kolob Terrace Road: This 25 mile drive takes you from the lowest elevation in the park, up over 4,000 feet to the top of the Lava Point Overlook at almost 8,000 feet. It’s a fantastic way to see the changes that altitude make in the environment, and to see a less-traveled area of the park. The cool air, green forests, and wide-open views are totally different from Zion Canyon.
If you are simply driving through Zion to see as much as possible and then make your way east toward Bryce Canyon or the Grand Canyon, or west toward St. George, the lower Zion Canyon and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway connect to make a smooth, if curvy, well-maintained sightseeing route. The road passes through a tunnel in the living rock that is over one mile long, and rises over 1,700 feet from the south gate to the east gate. It is an amazing way to glimpse the sandstone cathedrals carved by the millennia of water flowing in the Virgin River. The road includes many pullouts and overlooks to stop and see the desert wildflowers, stealthy critters, starry nights, and memorable moments.
The Rock: Zion National Park is 232 square miles of desert, riparian life and very nearly unbelievable 2000 to 3000 foot vertical canyon walls that you can visit by car, bus, bicycle and on foot! The park is characterized by high plateaus,
a maze of narrow, deep sandstone canyons, and striking rock towers and mesas. Zion Canyon is the
largest and most visited canyon in the park. The story of the park is the erosion of the western side of the Colorado Plateau, with the canyons revealing the hundred million year history of this step of the Grand Staircase. Gorgeous snows blanket the plateaus in the winter, sun-warmed rock glows in the spring, fast-moving summer monsoons bring rampaging flash floods that rapidly reshape this majestic landscape.
The History: Zion National Park contains evidence of at least 8,000 years of human occupation by Archaic, Ancestral
Puebloans (known by archeologists as the Virgin Branch of the Kayenta Anasazi and Parowan Fremont),
Southern Paiutes, and Mormon settlers who arrived in the 1860s.
See it all: The shuttle up Zion Canyon runs from the visitor center up the Scenic Drive to destinations like the Zion Lodge, and many trailheads, including Emerald Pools, West Rim Trail, and Temple of Sinawava where hikers depart for the Narrows. Bring sunscreen, hats, cameras, water, snacks and layers! THEPARKGUIDE narrates the ride, and the shuttle is free!
Zion National Park Information Pages: