Zion National Park: What to Pack, Where to Hike, Where to Stay

Zion National Park. Southern Utah.

So. Much. Beauty.img_6946

We can’t really put into words the great beauty of Zion. We spent weeks (as always lol) researching other blogs, Pinterest, Google… I wanted to see and know everything. I looked at every photo out there. But it’s not until you get there; finally after the long drive from Vegas or SLC airport, that you can appreciate the sea of reds and oranges towering over you.

From this post I hope you get an idea of what to pack, what crazy hikes to take (and when to take them!) and where to stay while you are there. Zion National Park is growing in popularity, but it still did not feel overcrowded in the mid peak time that we went. We do have some pro tips to help with crowds too. Keep reading for those! If you can go in off/mid peak season, I would highly suggest it.

What to pack.

We stayed in early September. The weather was supposed to be in the upper 90’s. It was for the most part, although hurricane Harvey and Irma brought in some storms the first couple of days, dropping the temperature.

Here’s a list for Zion National Park in late summer/early fall.

  • Dri Wick shorts for hikes.
  • Dri Wick or fast drying tanks. I would suggest not a lot 100% cotton. It’s hot out here, let your body breathe and don’t be stuck in wet clothes on a long hike.
  • Comfortable shorts or pants (This is a very cool, laid back place). We were in our hiking or workout clothes 90% of the time and totally fit in.
  • Light jacket or layer for in the morning. It was much colder at 6:00AM than at Noon.
  • Hiking shoes with some grip on them.
  • Comfortable shoes to walk around in. There IS a shuttle to get you around but sometimes in the peak season you can be waiting for a while. Also parking is BLEH. We did a lot of walking to places. It’s a small town though.
  • Pair of jeans for dinner out.
  • Leggings & Comfy tee for travel day.
  • A hat! Most hikes are out in the open or down a canyon. Be protected when you get out in the sun for a couple of hours on a ledge.
  • Sunscreen, Sunglasses.
  • Flashlight.
  • Swimsuit
  • A camera.
  • A printed map. There is zero cell service in the park.
  • All the normal stuff like PJ’s, Unders, Socks and Toiletries.

The Narrows specific:

  • Different hiking shoes to hike the Narrows. They will get wet, and filled with a sandy muck. OR you can always rent some! There are a lot of places in Springdale to rent. We did not want to mess with this and being on a time schedule of returning.
  • Neoprene socks. We bought 2M for September weather and were fine. {Grab them here}
  • Wool socks to go under the Neoprene socks. (You don’t want to end up with blisters!) {Dicks Sporting Goods} I use these in my cold weather hikes in Rocky Mountains too.
  • Raincoat (only bc it was unseasonably rainy, so we bought one there) We did use them for the Narrows, so happy I had the lightweight rain jacket at 6:30AM in the cold water!
  • Backpack with front straps. This is a huge help in distributing the weight of your pack. A few hikes took hours. This saved me.
  • Hiking Pole.
  • Waterproof camera bag (Not only for the Narrows but would be great for dusty hikes too) I got mine from Amazon and clipped it to my backpack, on the front of me. This way I could get in and out of it easily. {Get one similar here}
  • Waterproof bags (to put inside your backpack to save your belongings from getting soaked in the Narrows).
  • Ziplock Bags. For food, baby wipes (in case you need to go to the bathroom), electronics, ETC.
  • A GoPro if you have one. There will be some epic video in the Narrows and Angles Landing.
  • Wide angle lens for your DSLR camera (if you are into casual photography). The Narrows are very tall, it’s hard to get everything in one shot with a regular lens.
  • Extra Food and Water. There are plenty of pretty places to stop and have brunch.
  • First Aid Kit. But for real. I fell hard twice HAHA not to the extent to need the kit, but it did make for funny video.
  • A printed out map of the narrows. There is zero cell service.

Download your free What to pack for Zion and the Narrows Checklist

What hikes to take if you like an adventure.

Pro tip for hiking in Zion with the least amount of crowds: Get on the first shuttle! If the shuttle leaves at 6:15AM be there at 5:45AM.

While on Monday, we did not have a problem getting on the first shuttle, on Sunday, the line was already long enough at 6:05 that it was full and we had to wait for the 6:30. Still fine, although there is something to be said about being the ONLY PEOPLE IN THE NARROWS for the first 4 miles (the most common turn around point). That was an experience we will never forget. Check out the video below. There were no other people.

Angels Landing Distance: 5 Miles 

I’ll have to upload the video of me stuggling hard core to get to the top of Angels Landing. Alas, as hard headed as I am, my fear of falling into the abyss controlled the hike. We quickly crawled our way down Angles Landing and had brunch at Scouts Lookout.

Observation Point Distance: 8 Miles

It was raining the day I had planned for this hike, so we did not get to go. If I had it to do over again, I would hike Observation Point rather than Angels Landing. OP is actually higher than AL and supposedly has a better view. Look into taking the back route if you need a flat hike to get this point. The back route starts at the East Mesa Trail. Although that’s a bit of a drive to get to that trail. So it’s 50/50 for me.

The Narrows Distance: 3-8 miles

We did 7 miles

Canyon Overlook Trail Distance: 1 Mile

While this hike is not IN Zion National Park it is very close and the road to get there & just beyond is beautiful. We saw a lot of wildlife on this hike. Mountain Sheep, Tarantulas, Birds, Chipmunks. Don’t let the drop offs, wooden bridge and sheep kicking rocks off the cliffs at you detour you into turning around before you get to the end. The trail is only a mile and once you are used to it, coming back down is a breeze. Do be careful though! There were some kids and elderly on the trail, it’s not a crazy trail but does have drop offs.ZIONS

Watchman Trail. Distance: 3 Miles

We had heard that the sunset on Watchman Trail was amazing. So one late afternoon we set out for this romantic hike. We absolutely did not leave ourselves enough time and ended up having a snack about mid way, to turn around, rather than come down in the dark. Pictures on the road are of watchman trail from the road.

Where to stay.

Springhill Suites by Marriott. I cannot say enough good things about this hotel. So much that I WILL write a review. We use reviews all the time, it’s often how we decide for or against something. (Throwing in our own thoughts also) BUT we never WRITE reviews. Anyone else like that!? It was clean, comfortable beds, nice size room. They put out fresh cookies every night. Two kinds! Fresh coffee at ALL hours of the day. Beautiful location, set with the canyon behind it and in front of it. Microwave in the room. I do wish we had a full length mirror because I like to see how a whole outfit looks together. Yes, even hiking outfits. 😂 But some other people we talked to said their room had one.

I hope you enjoyed our adventure in Zion. If you end up going, let me know in the comments what you thought of it.


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5 thoughts on “Zion National Park: What to Pack, Where to Hike, Where to Stay

  1. Hi Terra! This is such a comprehensive post! I’ve always wanted to go to Zion Park and now even more after reading this!

  2. Amazing photos I can’t wait to get there! Thanks for sharing your tips!

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