There’s no arguing that hiking is one of Zion National Park’s main, if not the main, activity. People come from across the country and around the world to hike to Angel’s Landing and Observation Point to take in the views. Recent lines to hike to both over Memorial Day Weekend proved just how popular the sport is for visitors to the park.
But while you should certainly plan for a few hikes during your visit, that doesn’t have to be the only activity you enjoy. There are an endless number of things to do in Zion and the surrounding area that don’t include lacing up your hiking boots. Here are a few that should definitely be on your list.
1. Take a Bike Ride
Many new visitors to the park don’t realize that there is a paved, bike-friendly trail inside of Zion. While it’s the only trail that allows bikes, the Pa’rus Trail offers beautiful views of the park’s famous monoliths and stunning landscapes.
If you don’t want to bring your own bike, you can rent one from Zion Outfitter, located just outside of the park entrance. Then, walk your bike into the park, and hop on the trail just past where the shuttle bus line starts.
The 3.5-mile trail follows the Virgin River through the lower part of the Zion Canyon.
If you’re up for an even bigger cycling adventure, you are also allowed to bike the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Closed to personal vehicles during the busy summer months, this drive gives you access to many of the park’s most popular features. But keep in mind that it is a long ride, and you’ll have to make the steep climb up the Temple of Sinawava, while also sharing the roadway with a constant stream of shuttle buses.
All other roadways in Zion are open to cyclists. However, you cannot ride through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. If your route will take you through it, you’ll need to plan to have someone pick you up and shuttle you through, or do as many cyclists in the park do and hitchhike!
2. Enjoy a Relaxing Drive
Need a break from the heat and a chance to get off your feet? Have people in your group who aren’t able to go hiking? Nothing beat a scenic drive through Zion to take in the landscape and enjoy the views!
While the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to traffic during the busy season, there are plenty of other roads to choose from. Perhaps the most popular is the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway. This 25-mile drive takes you past Canyon Junction and the famous Mt. Carmel Tunnel, which is over a mile long.
For a shorter drive with equally stunning views, head to the Kolob Canyons Road. This 5-mile journey climbs over 1,000 feet into the air where you’ll get to see the red canyons and soaring peaks from the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint located at the top.
More than 80 percent of Americans live in an area where they cannot see the Milky Way at night. If you fall into that category, stargazing should definitely be on your itinerary.
Zion National Park is one of the best places in the country to take in the night skies. The park has taken steps to reduce light pollution at their facilities. At Zion Canyon Visitor Center, Zion Lodge, and the Zion Human History Museum, you’ll find specially designed outdoor lights that direct the light downward rather than towards the sky.
You won’t have to go far, or even do much planning, to enjoy this activity. Simply head outside on a clear night and look up!
4. Go Rock Climbing
Another popular pastime in the park is rock climbing and bouldering. Whether you’re an experienced climber or just looking to try out the sport for the very first time, there’s a climb for you.
Avid rock climbers will enjoy scaling Zion’s famous 2,000-foot sandstone cliffs. But local outfitters are prepared to help even those who have never climbed before getting a taste of scaling a wall in the park.
Rock climbing is a sport best enjoyed in the Spring and Fall. During the Summer months, the temperature on exposed rock faces can soar, making it dangerous. Also, afternoon thunderstorms that are common during June, July, and August will weaken sandstone walls, making them prone to breaking and crumbling.
Some climbing routes also close during the nesting season of the Peregrine Falcon. Check with the park before planning your trip so that you’ll know which routes are open and which to avoid.
5. Watch a Sunrise
You could certainly do this from one of the parks many hiking trails. But there are also countless overlooks and other spots where you can easily take in a stunning sunset.
During your vacation in Zion, aim to watch the sunset from a different spot every evening. You’ll be treated to a new experience every night, and views that you won’t soon forget!
Planning Your Zion Vacation
Whether your feet are too tired for one more trail or you’re planning a longer visit and want to enjoy other activities, there are plenty of things to do in and around Zion. If you’re lucky enough to be staying at Cliffrose Lodge, even an afternoon spent relaxing and enjoying the gardens and grounds can lead to lasting memories!