Zion National Park has more than 13 distinct day hiking trails for visitors to enjoy. To make traveling to and from trail heads easier, it is recommended that visitors use the park's shuttle service.
The first shuttle of the day departs the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 5:45 a.m. The last shuttles of the day leaves the Temple of Sinawava at 11:00 p.m. and the Zion Lodge at 11:15 p.m.
When hiking, stay on established trails and watch your footing, especially at overlooks and near drop-offs. Always stay back from edges. Watch children closely. People uncertain about heights should turn around if they come to drop-offs that bother them. Loose sand or pebbles on stone are very slippery. Be careful of edges when using cameras or binoculars. Never throw or roll rocks; there may be hikers below.
In the past most cyclists found the automobile congestion along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to be too hazardous for riding. Thanks to the Zion Canyon Shuttle System the park is now more bicycle friendly. One may ride the Pa� rus trail from the lower canyon and connect to Zion Canyon Scenic Drive at Canyon Junction. The shuttle buses are equipped with bike racks for those wishing to ride only part of the way. Many cyclists enjoy riding the shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava and cycling back down. Bicycles are permitted only on established roads and the Pa�rus Trail. Cyclists must obey traffic laws. Bicycles are not allowed on hiking trails or off-trail. Ride defensively; automobile traffic is often heavy and drivers may be distracted by the scenery. Riding through the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel is prohibited. Bicycles must be transported through the tunnel by motor vehicle.
Horses have traditionally been used to explore Zion�s rugged terrain. Early modes of transportation consisted solely of horses and mules. Stock animals currently allowed in the backcountry are horses, mules, and burros. Llamas, dogs, camels, and other pack animals are not allowed. Permits are not required for day trips. Stock may be used in these areas:
La Verkin Creek, Hop Valley Wildcat Canyon, West Rim (above Cabin Springs), East Rim (above rim, includes Cable Mountain and Deertrap trails), Sandbench (November through February only), Coalpits Wash, Huber Wash, Scoggins Wash, Crater Hill.
Maximum group size is six animals. Overnight Trips Maximum stay in any single location is one night. Permits are required for all over night trips. Stock must be hobbled or tethered to reduce damage to vegetation. To reduce the spread of noxious and exotic weeds, all stock must be fed only certified weed-free hay one day prior to entering the backcountry and when using park trails.
On The Trail In areas where trails are present, stock must remain on trails. Free-trailing or loose herding is not allowed. Animals must be kept at a slow walk when passing hikers. When standing, stock must be kept at least 100 feet from drainages.
Watchman Campground - Watchman Campground accepts reservations. Reservations may be made five months in advance for April 2-October 31 by calling (800) 365-2267, or visit. Tent sites are $16 per site per night. Sites with electricity are available for $18 per site per night. Designated riverside sites are $20 per night. (Rates are subject to change.)
Available by reservation in Watchman Campground to organized groups of 9-40 people for $3.00 per person; (800) 365-2267, or visit. Facilities include restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, fire grates, and RV dump stations. No showers or hookups are available.
Holders of Golden Age and Golden Access Passports receive a 50% discount on all camping fees.
Campgrounds can fill up during the summer months. Arrival before noon generally ensures a campsite except during holiday weekends. Facilities include restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, fire grates, RV dump stations. No showers are available.
Three miles north on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Open year-round. Motel rooms, cabins, and suites available. Zion Lodge also has a gift shop and post office. Reservations recommended: 1-888-297-2757.
In 1847, Brigham Young led members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) to Utah Territory, establishing settlements in the Great Salt Lake Valley. Within a decade, Mormon pioneers were sent to settle the southern part of the territory and grow cotton in Utah�s �Dixie�. Towns like Shunesberg, Springdale, Grafton, Adventure, and Paradise sprang up along the upper Virgin River during the 1860s. In 1863, Issac Behunin built the first log cabin in Zion Canyon, near the location of the Zion Lodge. Soon the canyon was dotted with other homesteads, including that of William Crawford, near Oak Creek.
During the remainder of the century, the small communities and homesteads struggled to survive. Catastrophic flooding by the river, little arable land, and poor soils made agriculture in the upper Virgin River a risky venture. Some of these settlements, including Shunesberg and Grafton, were ultimately abandoned for more favorable locations.
By the first decade of the 20th century, the scenic qualities of southern Utah, and Zion Canyon in particular, had been recognized as a potential destination for tourism. In 1909, a presidential Executive Order designated Mukuntuweap (Zion) National Monument, in Zion Canyon. The new monument was, however, virtually inaccessible to visitors, since the existing roads were in poor condition and the closest railhead a hundred miles away. The Utah State Road Commission, established in that year, began construction on a state highway system that would eventually improve access to the southern region. State officials also negotiated with the Union Pacific Railroad to develop rail and automobile links and tourism facilities in southern Utah. By the summer of 1917, touring cars could finally reach Wylie Camp, a tent camping resort that comprised the first visitor lodging in Zion Canyon.
In 1919, a Congressional bill designating Zion National Park was signed into law. Visitation to the new national park increased steadily during the 1920s, particularly after the Union Pacific extended a spur rail line to Cedar City. The Utah Parks Company, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific, acquired the Wylie Camp in Zion, and offered ten day rail/bus tours to Zion, Bryce, Kaibab, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Construction on the Zion Lodge complex, designed in �Rustic Style� by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood, began in the mid-1920s. In 1930, the newly completed Zion-Mt Carmel highway allowed motorists to travel through Zion to Bryce and points east. This highway was one of the greatest engineering feats of modern times, requiring the construction of a 5,613-foot tunnel to negotiate the vertical sandstone cliffs of Zion.
Visitor numbers at Zion National Park have continued to increase over time, necessitating the construction of trails, campgrounds, and other facilities. The economic benefits of tourism now support the small communities surrounding the park, ensuring their survival into a new millennium of human history.