2 Day Zion National Park Itinerary: A Complete Zion Travel Guide
Looking for the perfect 2 days in Zion National Park Itinerary? Well, look no further because I’m here to inspire your Zion trip and map out the perfect amount of time to spend visiting this stunning national park.
About Zion National Park
Did you know that Zion was Utah’s first national park? Zion Canyon is located in the southwestern corner of Utah. It’s best known for its expansive red rock canyon views (up to 2,000 feet deep) which the Virgin River runs through. It truly takes your breath away when you’re inside the park and you are able to witness the intensity of the colors and sheer expansiveness of the park. The main canyon along Zion Scenic Drive is the most visited section of the park and popular activities include camping, backpacking, hiking, and climbing.
Things to Know Before Visiting Zion
- During the months of March-November, you are only allowed to access the Zion Canyon Scenic drive via shuttle or bicycle. It is closed to personal cars during these months to cut down on traffic and preserve the park.
- The best time to visit Zion would be during shoulder seasons. Consider the late spring and early fall for your visit because the temperatures are mild and crowds will be less.
- Surprisingly the slowest days in the park are Saturday and Sunday.
- Service is very spotty in the park so be prepared by downloading offline maps.
- You now need a permit in order to hike Angel’s Landing. For more information on that check it out here.
- Always practice the “leave no trace” policies of the National Park Service
Best Things to Do in Zion
Take a Hike
Easily the most popular attraction of all is the amazing Zion Hikes. Zion is known for its exceptional hiking due to its steep trails and amazing views. Choose to hike through the virgin river and experience the narrows or perhaps take in sweeping views of Angels Landing. Either path you choose you won’t be disappointed! I have outlined all the main hikes to experience in the hiking below.
Explore the Scenery + Wildlife along Zion Canyon Drive
If you’re looking to sit back and relax taking a shuttle ride along Zion Canyon Drive is the way to go. Marvel at the dramatic cliffside views while you make your way deeper into the canyon. You can get off at any of the 9 stops and take a leisurely stroll through the park. I highly recommend the riverside walk as that was our favorite easy hike! Finally, you’ll most likely be able to spot lots of wildlife. We saw tons of bighorn sheep.
Rent Bikes in Zion
Renting bikes in Zion was the highlight of our trip. I couldn’t recommend this more. We rented e-bikes from Zion Peddler ($25 an hour $75 for the entire day). We then rode along the entirety of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and back for sunset. It was heavenly! Some things to note are you have to come to a complete stop when riding your bike when a shuttle is behind you in order for them to pass you. Surprisingly we didn’t run into too many shuttles during our sunset drive.
Visit a Hidden Spring
Let’s keep this between us! Between stops 8 and 9 on the scenic drive is a small wooden staircase that leads to a secret spring and mini waterfall. You can spot it by keeping your eyes peeled for the wooden bridge you see pictured above. It’s a small area and a nice way to relax from the crowds in the park. This is a local spot so it’s the perfect spot to stop when riding bikes since the shuttle does not stop near here.
Visit Checkerboard Mesa + East Zion
Checkerboard Mesa is an iconic and unique rock formation that looks like a checkboard. It was created this way due to extreme temperature changes. It’s a popular spot for rock climbing and there is also a small parking lot to view when driving on Mount Carmel Highway.
Canyoneering and Rock Climbing
Zions slot canyons and expansive rocks make for great conditions for canyoneering and rock climbing. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to experience a slot canyon then consider this activity for your trip. You can rent equipment from various outfitters in Springdale or opt for a guided tour if you’re a beginner.
Go Horseback Riding in East Zion
If you’re looking for a unique experience then consider booking a horseback riding trip! This 1-hour tour takes you through East Zion to visit a slot canyon and marvel at the Zion scenery. Click here to book this experience.
Best Hikes in Zion
The most popular thing to do in Zion is hike Angels Landing. This epic hike winds its way up steep switchbacks through refrigerator canyon and up walters wiggles (27 switchbacks) to scouts’ lookout. From there you will see the chain section which is quite strenuous. Climb up that and you will be greeted with the prettiest views! Do note the NPS now regulates how many hikers get to experience angels landing. You now need a permit and they only issue 900 permits per day.
- Difficulty – Strenuous
- Access – Grotto
- Average hike time – 4-5 hours
- Distance – 4 miles out and back
- Elevation Gained – 1488 feet
This paved trail is the gateway to the infamous The Narrows hike. It goes along the river and is an easy hike for everyone to enjoy. Once you reach the end you’ll see the entrance to the narrows and you can venture in or turn around.
Difficulty – Easy
Access – Temple of Sinawa
Average hike time – 1 hour
Distance – 2.2 miles
The Narrows (bottom-up)
The iconic Narrows hike is one of America’s top hikes to experience. It truly is an otherwordly experience and was hands down the favorite portion of our trip! You hike up through the Virgin River and are surrounded by sculpted sandstone walls and breathtaking views. You can choose how far you would like to hike and then return back the way you came. We hiked for 1.5 hours up and then came down. It’s so important to come prepared to hike this spot. Here are some tips:
- Rent proper water shoes and a walking stick.
- We rented them from Zion Outfitters and they cost $27 per person and came with a walking stick and waterproof socks. This will help your feet stay warm and help with balance as it can be slippery.
- Wear Proper Clothes
- The water was 60 degrees when we hiked and it was 70 degrees out. I wore active shorts, an active zip-up, and a hat. For the most part, I was warm the entire trip.
- Make sure to check the temperature and flow rate before hiking as it’s best to hike in mild conditions
- Leave valuables at home. We hiked with a waterproof bag to house our camera but suggest getting a waterproof phone case since you’ll want to take all the photos.
- Difficulty – Moderately Difficult
- Access – Temple of Sinawa
- Average hike time – 4-6 hours
- Distance – up to 12 miles
A family favorite because of the stream which gently flows over the cliffs and forms several pools. There are two pools the lower emerald pool and the upper emerald pool.
- Difficulty – Moderate
- Access – Grotto
- Average hike time – 1 hour for middle pools and 2 hours for upper pools
- Distance – upper 3 miles
Zion Canyon Overlook
One of the few trails you can access with your own personal car in East Zion. They call this hike the baby brother to Angels Landing. Being that I’m not the best with heights we opted for this hike over Angels landing. This hike follows the rim of Pine Creek Canyon and ends at a beautiful lookout. Here you’ll have views of Bridge mountain, the Streaked Wall, and the sentinel. Finally, there are a small lot of cars so make sure to get here early!
- Difficulty – Moderate
- Access – 1 mile outside the tunnel on Route 9
- Average hike time – 1 hour
- Distance – 1 mile
- Elevation gain – 163 ft
- News – currently, it’s closed during the week due to trail maintenance but head here for updates.
This hike is a long one but the locals love it. West Rim trail goes along the rim and descends 3300 feet to the grotto picnic area in the main canyon.
- Difficulty – Moderate
- Access – Kolob Terrace Road to Lava Point
- Average hike time – 6-9 hours
- Distance – 14.4 miles
- Elevation Gained – 3300 feet
Pa’rus trail is primarily used as a bike route this leisurely trail starts at the visitors center and is 3.5 miles. You can expect lots of river views, spring flowers, and pretty scenic bridges.
Difficulty – Easy
Access – Visitor Center
Average hike time – 1.5 hours
Distance – 3.5 miles
Where to Stay in Zion
If you’re looking for the prettiest hotel in this Zion National Park Itinerary with convenient access to the park then consider Cliffrose Springdale for your accommodations. Not only is it a 3-minute walk to the entrance of the park but the property is stunning! Set along the virgin river, this hotel offers two pool areas with cliffside views, an on-site restaurant, a spa, and beautiful rooms with full kitchens. We personally stayed here and felt so at home. Finally, they have plenty of lawn activities and outdoor fire pits. Book your stay!
How to Get Around Zion
Zion Shuttle – during the months of March-November, you are only able to access the Zion Scenic Canyon Drive by shuttle or bicycle. There are two shuttle lines the Zion Canyon Shuttle and the Springdale Line. The Zion line starts at the visitor center inside the park and runs up to the Temple of Sinawa and back. The first shuttle runs at 6 am and the last shuttle leaves the temple of Sinawa at 8:15 pm. Finally, the Springdale line runs through the town and starts at 7 am. Both are completely free to ride and you don’t need reservations. More information is here.
Rent Bikes – renting bikes in Zion was the highlight of our trip. I couldn’t recommend this more. We rented e-bikes from Zion Peddler ($25 an hour $75 for the entire day). We then rode along the entirety of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and back for sunset. It was heavenly! Some things to note are you have to come to a complete stop when riding your bike when a shuttle is behind you in order for them to pass you. Surprisingly we didn’t run into too many shuttles during our sunset drive.
Drive your Car – you are allowed to drive along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway at all times of the year. You can access the Canyon Overlook trail from this road, Checkerboard Mesa, a couple of amazing viewpoints, and the epic tunnel.
What to Pack for Zion
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- All the activewear! Most activities in Zion include the outdoors so it’s best to be comfortable. My favorite brand of activewear that has lasted me YEARS is Lululemon. I’ve also found some great lululemon dupes on Amazon and you can shop those all HERE.
- Good quality hiking shoes: I wore these the entire time in Zion (aside from the narrows). It’s best to wear actual hiking shoes since the hikes can get pretty intense (especially Angels Landing).
- an active crossbody bag that is a fan favorite!
- Water Shoes for all the swimming in the summer. I love these from COLUMBIA because they’re somewhat stylish and have lasted me years!
- Walking sticks
- A sturdy pair of flip-flops that you can also wear on a quick hike. These Olukai Sandals are my go-to and have lasted me years and are the most comfortable.
- Bathing Suits: Being that Zion gets very warm in the summer months you’ll want to always be prepared by bringing bathing suits. I always find quality suits that last for a few seasons at aerie, amazon, and cupshe.
- Sunscreen: Being that you’ll mostly be outdoors, you’ll want to be prepared to protect that skin of yours. This sunscreen brush is a life-saver since you can re-apply it so easily.
- a good quality backpack for hikes
- Basics: I always find the best basics at either Abercrombie or HM. It’s nice to have some neutral tees and tanks handy during your stay. You can also shop my favorite Amazon Basics HERE.
Sample 2-day Zion National Park Itinerary
Below is a sample 2-day Zion National Park Itinerary to help guide you to plan your trip!
- Drive from Bryce Canyon National Park to the park (2 hours)
- Hike Zion Overlook Trail on way to the hotel (1 hour)
- Check in to Cliffrose Springdale
- Take the Zion shuttle to stop #9
- Hike the Riverside Walk to the Narrows entrance
- Hike the Narrows
- Shuttle home and have dinner at Arhaus
- Hike Angels Landing for Sunrise
- Hike Emerald Pools to lower pools
- Relax by the pool for an hour and have lunch
- Sunset bike ride through Pa’rus Trail and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
- Make sure to stop at the hidden spring between stops 8 & 9
Thank you reach reading “A Complete 2 Day Zion National Park Itinerary”. I hope I’ve given you some insight for your trip and for more of my USA guides click here!
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Kerri Steele says
This was so informative!! I’m trying to plan my first trip to Zion (solo) and you pretty much answered all of the questions I had.. so thank you!!!
Courtney Delfino says
happy to hear that thank you!
Chad Taylor says
Awesome guide! We loved our time in Zion last year and want to go back. We hired a local guide company to try canyoneering for the first time and it was a blast! Check these guys out if you’re thinking of trying it: https://allwaysadventure.com/canyoneering-adventures-in-east-zion/
Courtney Delfino says
looks awesome – will check them out next time thank you!