Top Things to Do in Zion: 2-Day Adventure Guide

You can get a taste of what Zion has to offer if you plan to stick around for at least 2-days. This guide is structured to provide super fun outdoor things to do in Zion National Park, and includes the best day hikes, where to stay, or camp, and guidance on the best time of year to visit.

We have visited Zion National Park many times living out west, and we are sharing all the best hikes and things to do with you to plan an awesome adventure!

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Zion National Park

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Introduction to Zion National Park

Zion National Park is one of the many wonders of the world and a prized gem of the U.S. The massive high desert red rock mountains and canyons against the blue sky will make you think you have been transported to another world.

Zion National Park is notably famous for hiking, rock climbing, camping, white water kayaking, sight-seeing, and canyoneering.

Visiting should most definitely be on your life bucket list, which is why you are here!

Let us help you plan an incredible two days packed full of outdoor adventures that don’t require any backcountry permits.

☀️ Get your annual national park pass here!

Best Things to Do in Zion: A 2-Day Adventure Guide

This guide is structured with the best things to see and do in two days.

The information below primarily focuses on hiking activities.

We have visited the park many times, so you are in for a treat!

The Perfect Outdoor Getaway Zion National Park

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Incredible views of the geology at Zion National Park

The first day you are here, you’ll want to explore!

There are many hikes to choose from, ranging from easy to strenuous and difficult.

This post will mix a few options for you to pick in the main Zion Canyon area.

2022 Shuttle Update: You do not need a permit, ticket, or reservation to ride the Zion Shuttle.

Zion Itinerary

Here’s a quick summary of the best things to see and do:

Day One:

  • Hike Angels Landing
  • Take the shuttle and check out the Lower Section of the Narrows
  • Explore the visitor center
  • Check out Springdale, Utah

Day Two:

  • Hike Canyon Overlook Trail
  • Check out some other easy hikes in Zion
  • Sight-see from the shuttle
  • Explore Springdale, Utah
  • Enjoy camping or your accommodations
  • Stargazing at night

Day One in Zion National Park

Angels Landing Hike

This iconic hike is sure to bring out the explorer in you!

It is a great way to have an excellent adventure as well as see Zion.

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Angels Landing Trail switchbacks

When to Hike Angels Landing

We recommend hiking Angels Landing first thing in the morning.

It is an excellent hike to do late spring, summer, and fall.

Depending on weather conditions, we wouldn’t recommend hiking when it is wet, or there is snow.

Starting in April 2022, a permit is required to hike Angels Landing!

Angels Landing Hike Details

  • Rating: Strenuous and difficult rating with heights and rock scrambling (chain to assist)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,488 ft elevation change
  • Shuttle Stop: #6 The Grotto
  • Distance: 5.4 miles round trip
  • Estimated time to hike: 4 hours

Angels Landing has incredible views.

You don’t have to do the chain-link rock scrambling section if you don’t want to towards the end.

But, if you are up for a rad adventure, go for it!

Just know your limits. Your safety is your responsibility.

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Angels Landing trail danger sign

How to Get to the Trailhead

Parking can get scarce at the visitor center, so the earlier you arrive at the visitor center, the better.

Zion National Park has a shuttle service that will take you close to the trailhead. Get off the shuttle at stop #6, The Grotto.

After you hike Angels Landing, if you’re up for more adventure, get back on the shuttle and head to the lower section of the Narrows via Riverside Walk.

Hike the Lower Section of the Narrows via Riverside Walk

A lot of people see incredible photos of people hiking the infamous Narrows down the Virgin River.

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Lower section of The Narrows

When to Hike the Narrows via Riverside Walk

We recommend hiking the Narrows via Riverside Walk in the summer or early fall when it is still warm.

The high canyon walls make for a shaded journey, so if you are wet, you don’t want to get cold. Bring a wetsuit!

Springtime has high water levels, and this area is often closed in the spring due to high water levels.

Zion National Park is also known for flash floods. Be sure to be in the know for storms and flash floods for your safety.

How to Get to the Trailhead

Get off the shuttle at stop #9, Temple of Sinawava.

The Narrows bus shuttle area has bathrooms.

You’ll see the paved trail along the river. You can walk the trail until it stops and keep going upstream if you wish.

Road Trip Travel Tip: Protect your road trip with traveler insurance. Whenever we road trip more than 100 miles from home, we always purchase cancel for any reason travel insurance. We like to use Travel Insurance Master. You can select the exact coverage you need.

travel-insurance-master-LOGO

The Narrows via Riverside Walk Hike Details

  • Rating: Strenuous and difficult rating walking in a river + wading in water
  • Shuttle Stop: #9 Temple of Sinawava
  • Distance: up to 9.4 miles (before needing a canyoneering backcountry permit)
  • Estimated time to hike: 1 to 8 hours (before needing a permit)

You do NOT need a permit to hike the lower section of the Narrows.

A wilderness backcountry permit is required to hike the Narrows top-down (but that isn’t the section we are writing about now).

Visitors can walk the lower section of the Narrows, where the shuttles drop everyone off via Riverside Walk, shuttle stop #9, Temple of Sinawava.

From here, you are allowed to hike from the bottom up, but that is it.

Since you are walking and wading upstream, it is fun to check out for a while, maybe a quarter mile or so, but not something we recommend really spending all day going that far upstream.

Upstream travel past Big Spring and Orderville Canyon is not allowed without a backcountry wilderness permit. That is why distance and time are stated as “up-to.”

Pssst… Want to do an epic backcountry canyoneering adventure in Zion? Read more about the Orderville Canyon hike!

It is still great to see this lower section! Take pictures. Have fun in the water.

Watch the cliffs and rock walls. You will probably be able to see rock climbers.

Explore the Visitor Center

After hiking all day, head back to the visitor center and mosey around. There is quite a bit to see.

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Zion Visitor Center area

Explore Springdale

When you are ready, head into Springdale, Utah. Springdale is the town near the south entrance to Zion.

Walk around Springdale, grab a bite to eat, enjoy your hotel or campsite for the rest of the evening.

Day Two in Zion National Park

Hike Canyon Overlook Trail to Observation Point

When to Hike Canyon Overlook Trail

Go early in the morning. If you do the entire 8 miles round trip, it will take you about 6 hours. Try to beat the crowds and the heat. There is shade at the beginning of the hike, but there is not much shade towards the top.

It is a great hike to do later in the spring, early summer, and late fall.

Depending on weather conditions, we wouldn’t recommend hiking when it is wet, or there is snow.

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Observation Point along Canyon Overlook Trail

Canyon Overlook Trail to Observation Point Hike Details

  • Rating: Strenuous and difficult rating with heights and rock scrambling
  • Elevation Gain: 2,148 ft elevation change
  • Shuttle Stop: #7 Weeping Rock
  • Distance: 8 miles round trip
  • Estimated time to hike: 6 hours

How to Get to the Trailhead

From the shuttle stop, head to the East Rim Trailhead. You have to walk over the bridge adjacent to the shuttle parking lot. The Observation Point Trail will branch off the East Rim Trail 2.5 miles into the hike. The trails are marked well since you are in the National Park.

Other Easy Day Hike Options

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Hiking in Zion

Zion National Park is a hiker’s paradise. With trails of all difficulty levels, there’s something for everyone who loves to explore the great outdoors. So, if you’re planning a trip to Zion, be sure to check out some of these other popular hikes.

Sight-seeing from the Shuttle

Be sure to take the opportunity to sight-see on the shuttle. Sight-seeing from the shuttle is an excellent activity after hiking all day.

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Stop along the scenic drive

Explore Springdale or Enjoy Camping

After a fantastic hike, shuttle back to the visitor center, relax in Springdale or enjoy your campsite.

There are a few options for camping with the park boundaries.

We camped at Lava Point. Starting in 2022, reservations will be required at Lava Point.

You can also camp at Watchman Campground or South Campground. Reservations are required for all camping and can be made on recreation.gov.

Stargazing

Don’t forget to watch the skies at night in Zion, especially if you are camping at Lava Point. There is unforgettable stargazing.

Where to Stay During a Getaway in Zion National Park

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Watchman Campground

Where We Have Stayed

We have camped at Lava Point in Zion and stayed at the La Quinta Inn & Suites in Springdale.

Depending on how outdoorsy you feel like being, there are a few options.

Lava Point is about an hour to an hour and a half drive from the visitor center and is located at a much higher elevation. Temperatures will be slightly cooler in the summertime, making it a great camping retreat.

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Lava Point Campground primitive camping

If you’d like to get away from the crowds to enjoy some primitive camping, we highly recommend Lava Point.

Be sure to check out campground conditions before planning a trip. Lava Point Campground is only open seasonally.

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Zion Checkerboard Mesa

The La Quinta is right in Springdale. They have a nice continental breakfast, pool, and spectacular views!

We like walking around Springdale to explore and eat. Staying at the hotel is a luxurious reprieve from hiking all day, depending on your level of adventure.

Budget Range

Springdale has plenty of budget options for visiting. There are big chain hotels to choose.

If visiting in the high seasons such as summer and early fall, plan to pay high season rates for any place you stay. However, if you visit in the off-season and shoulder seasons like winter and early spring, rates will be way less.

We recommend booking your stay well ahead of time. With millions of people visiting Zion National Park annually, these hotels fill up quickly!

Camping

Mid-Range

More Expensive

Getting Around During A Zion National Park Getaway

Getting to and from Zion National Park requires you to have your own car or rental car, depending on where you are coming from.

Once you get to the park, find parking at the visitor center or in Springdale.

Most of the hikes and sight-seeing require being shuttled from the visitor center to the hike and sight-seeing drop-offs.

Read more about how the shuttle works.

Zion National Park Map

Check out the Zion Wilderness Map for an overview of the park, places, and hikes mentioned in this post.

Is Zion Dog Friendly?

Depending on what you plan on doing, Zion can be dog friendly. For example, if you want to drive the scenic drive and walk the Pa’rus Trail, you can make your trip dog friendly.

The Pa’rus Trail starts at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.

Dogs are not allowed on any other trails, buildings, or the shuttle. So, you will be limited with the types of activities you can do if you’re traveling with your pet.

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Photo at one of the pull-offs

Best Time to Visit Zion National Park

Since Zion National Park is in the Southwest, it tends to be dry and have lots of sunshine, making it fun to visit almost all year.

As we said earlier, Zion National Park has extremely high visitation. Millions of people visit the park every year.

It’s best not to visit Zion National Park during a national holiday weekend unless you don’t mind waiting in long lines or risking your chance of not being able to truly see the park.

When we would go, we would avoid weekends…

Summer

Summer is peak season in Zion, with Americans on summer break and international tourists coming from all over. June, July, and August are great times to visit but keep the desert heat in mind. It can easily be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll want to hike earlier in the day.

Early summer is one of our favorite times to visit!

Fall

Fall is another peak season since it is not as hot (as summer). Temperatures start to get cooler, including the nights. Still pack lots of layers.

Late fall is another one of our favorite times to visit!

Winter

December is quieter. Zion does get snow, and it can get pretty cold. Pack lots of layers. However, you are sure to beat the crowds.

Spring

Spring is still cold, but fewer people are visiting the park. The crowds tend to pick up some in late February and March, depending on the weather.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Zion in 2 Days

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Zion Canyon

Zion National Park offers hikers a wealth of trails to explore, from easy walks to strenuous hikes. No matter your ability level or what you’re looking for in a hike, Zion has something perfect for you. If you haven’t had the chance to visit this amazing park yet, put it on your list—you won’t be disappointed!

Be sure to check out trail conditions before you plan your trip. And don’t forget to get your permit to hike Angels Landing if its on your bucket list!

Snag your annual national park pass if you haven’t already!

We hope you have a great trip and find this Zion travel guide helpful.

Thanks for reading.

Ashlee & Pablo


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Where are you headed next?

Planning an epic road trip in Utah? You might also like our other articles for these national parks close by:

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We’d love to hear from you!

Have you been to Zion?

Do you have any questions about hiking in Zion and exploring?

Don’t forget to buy the annual national park pass!

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation writer and founder of The Happiness Function based in Oklahoma. Her goal is to help inspire people to build a life they love by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally, connect with nature, and explore off-the-beaten-path. You don't have to spend a lot of money or use a ton of vacation time to explore close to home. Ashlee holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability and has a passion for the outdoors. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! They camp in their Aliner often and love road trips and hiking.

22 Comments

  1. Hazel on December 19, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Zion National Park looks fab, Ashlee. Even the Day 1 itinerary would be great. Thanks for suggesting accommodation options as well.

    • Ashlee Fechino on December 20, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      Hi Hazel – so glad you stopped by to read. Thanks for the feedback on our adventure guide.

  2. Julie on December 19, 2020 at 11:22 am

    Zion is amazing!! We loved so many of these hikes but have yet to do Angel’s Landing…on my list! Great tips here!

    • Ashlee Fechino on December 20, 2020 at 3:30 pm

      Hi Julie – yes, awesome! I hope you can hike Angels Landing next time you are in Zion. Wishing you perfect hiking weather!

  3. Andi on December 19, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    I am lucky to have spent 3 weeks visiting Zion when I was RVing and got plenty of chances to see a lot of this awesome national park – there is a lot in the surrounding area as well.

    • Ashlee Fechino on December 20, 2020 at 3:31 pm

      Hi Andi – that is so cool! We would love to spend that kind of time down there at once in an RV.

  4. Jenni / Out in the Nature on December 19, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    You have given me one more reason to go back to Vegas someday. I have been to Grand Canyon but would love to spent more time in this area and do some more hiking. Angels Landing especially looks stunning.

    • Ashlee Fechino on December 20, 2020 at 3:32 pm

      Hi Jenni – Yes, Angels Landing is a must do. Hope you can make it to Zion National Park. The Grand Canyon is pretty spectacular as well 😉

  5. Wellness Travel Diaries on December 19, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    I dream for visiting again and being able to do all of these hikes. I am curious about what you recommend for footgear for the hike through the Narrows? Do I need anything special for that?

    • Ashlee Fechino on December 20, 2020 at 3:36 pm

      Hi there! Thanks for leaving a comment. When we do water hikes, I take Chaco sandals and a pair of low top meshy trail running shoes. You can see in one of the photos above I’m wearing a Salomon trail running shoe. I like these because they are durable, but you can get them wet. Have also had Vasque trail running shoes to canyoneer. I don’t wear or submerge sturdy/stiffer leather hiking boots.

  6. Hannah on December 19, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Zion looks like an amazing place to spend a couple of days hiking. The landscape looks spectacular! The Narrows looks like a beautiful trail, I’d love to explore it! Thanks for the great guide!

    • Ashlee Fechino on December 20, 2020 at 3:36 pm

      Hi Hannah – thanks for reading. Hope you can make it to explore Zion National Park! You would love it.

  7. Tiffany on December 19, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    This is perfect! It will save me time trying to plan the order of all the hikes! Can’t wait to go to Zion NP, it looks gorgeous!!!!

    • Ashlee Fechino on December 20, 2020 at 3:37 pm

      Hi Tiffany! Awesome – I hope you have an awesome trip! Look forward to hearing about it when the time comes.

  8. Cristina Sala on December 20, 2020 at 7:58 am

    QUEIDA ASHLEE Realmente me impacto este viaje, Increible NARROWS por el rio Virgin
    Me gusta tu expresion no dejar de mirar el cielo. Estudiar las estrellas, alli hay otro maravilloso mundo.
    El parque Naacional dee Zion. Cuanta naturaleza que han descubierto. Cuanto para disfrutar,

    • Ashlee Fechino on December 20, 2020 at 3:38 pm

      Hola Cristina, gracias por leer tu publicación y comentar. Te encantaría el Parque Nacional Zion.

  9. Daphna on December 20, 2020 at 8:01 am

    This is great! We only did the easy trails at Zion and dying to go back for some more serious hiking!

    • Ashlee Fechino on December 20, 2020 at 3:38 pm

      Hi Daphna – thanks for reading. Hope next time you go you have a great time and there is perfect hiking weather!

  10. Megan on December 20, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Zion has always been one of my favourite national parks in Utah – and Angel’s Landing and Observation Point are two of my top hike choices as well! You can also escape the crowds by hiking upper Zion above the tunnel – another day 😉 Great post!

    • Ashlee Fechino on December 20, 2020 at 3:39 pm

      Hi Megan – awesome feedback. Zion National Park has amazing energy. Oh, great tip! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Catherine on December 21, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    I want to go to Zion SO BADLY. This is such a helpful post – I pinned it for my dream road trip throughout the SW USA. I love that your tips are for 2 days in Zion — not too long but not too short either.

    • Ashlee Fechino on December 21, 2020 at 2:20 pm

      Hi Catherine – Thanks for reading. I hope you can make it soon! You can do and see a lot in 2 days. Happy adventuring!

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