Looking for a weekend adventure with dramatic landscapes, fun hikes and beautiful views? Check out my Zion National Park itinerary to help you plan your trip and learn more about the best hikes in Zion. This place needs to be on your bucketlist!
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2 Days in Zion – Itinerary Overview
- PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 0-1
- Nights: 2
- Cost: $
How to Get to Zion National Park
- Vegas to Zion
- The closest airport to Zion National Park is Las Vegas. The drive from Vegas to Zion is an easy and scenic 3 hours.
- Salt Lake City to Zion
- The drive from Salt Lake City airport to Zion is about 4.5 hours
Once you’re in Zion, they have a shuttle bus system to get around the park. The busses come every 10-15 minutes.
Where to Stay in Zion National Park
Camping at Zion National Park
If you love sleeping in the great outdoors, I highly recommend camping at Zion National Park. I recommend booking a campsite at Watchman Campground, which you’ll see right after entering the park. This campground has GREAT views of the red canyon rock formations, is super close to the shuttle bus stop, has nice bathrooms with running water, and firepits & picnic tables at each campsite. ALSO because it is so close to the park entrance, that means you are actually able to WALK TO A BREWERY right outside the park in Springdale from the campground. Seriously, it’s only about 0.3 miles away. How convenient is that!
Watchman Campground fills up fast, so make sure you book a few months in advance. If you aren’t able to get a spot, there are other campgrounds outside of the park that you can choose from.
If you are planning your trip last-minute and there are no campgrounds available to book, download the Dyrt Pro app to check out all the free campsites in the surrounding area!
If you want to camp but also want the comforts of home, renting a campervan is a great option! My favorite campervan company is Travellers Autobarn. Their vans have a stove, microwave, fridge and sink, and can sleep 3 people inside of it. Also, they have unlimited miles which is something that most campervan companies don’t offer! You can pick up the van at their location in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Las Vegas.
Lodging at Zion National Park
If you don’t want to camp, I recommend staying at either a VRBO or a hotel in the nearby town of Springdale.
For instance, check out the Cliffrose Hotel, located right on the Virgin River, for a more upscale experience super close to the park entrance.
Or, stay in a cabin like this super zen “Nama-Stay Vacation Home” – walking distance to the park entrance! This place looks awesome.
There are also a few great glamping options nearby. The Zion Wildflower offers a chic glamping experience just 18 min outside the park entrance. The view from your bed looks amazing! They also have private bungalows available.
Packing List for Zion National Park
If you’re flying into Vegas to Zion, (especially if you are on an airline like Spirit where you have to pay extra to bring bags) I recommend stopping at a Walmart when you land to pick up a cheap cooler and all your food for the weekend.
- REI Joule Sleeping Bag (this is the one that I have and I love it)
- Inflatable Sleeping Pad (this is the one that I use)
- Portable Rocking Chair (This thing is AWESOME!)
- REI Flexlite Chair – low profile camping chair that’s a big space-saver
- The COLDEST Water Bottle (seriously – stays colder than Hydroflask or Yeti!)
- Decathlon 2-Second Tent (I love this one – it’s super easy to setup and you can sleep longer because of the blackout material)
- Hiking Boots (These are my favorite!)
- Camping String Lights (these are the ones I have and I love them!)
- Travel Towel
- Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (I bring this on EVERY camping trip. It packs up small and keeps you warm!)
- Sunski Polarized Glasses
- Camping Cooler
- Portable phone charger
- Cliff Bar Energy Chews (love these things for a boost of energy!)
- Kuhl Softshell Pants – These are my favorite pants to wear hiking or camping when the weather gets chilly!
- Periscoping Roasting Sticks – these come in handy when you want to roast smores or hot dogs over the fire!
- Camping Grill – this is the one I have, and I love it!
- Keen Waterproof Sandals (these are GREAT for The Narrows hike)
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Zion National Park Itinerary – Day 1: The Narrows
Kick off your weekend in Zion with one of the best hikes in Zion – The Narrows. On this iconic hike, you’ll be wading through the river between two red canyon walls. It’s very unique and such an amazing experience! I can definitely see why it’s deemed one of the best hikes in Zion. If you are an avid hiker and want to do the full Narrows hike top to bottom (and through the famous “Subway”), you will need a permit. The easiest way to score a permit is to pay $15 to set up a cancellation tracker for your dates through Outdoor Status. They text you if there is a cancellation for your dates, and then you jump online and snag it!
Otherwise, you can just hike a portion of it without a permit (this is what I did). See below for a few tips for The Narrows hike:
Tips for The Narrows Hike at Zion
- START EARLY!!!
- The Narrows is one of the best hikes in Zion, meaning it’s also one of the most popular hikes at Zion. To beat the crowds, try to start the hike right around sunrise. Believe me, the early wake-up call is worth it to have The Narrows to yourself!
- Check the Weather
- Before your hike, check the weather to make sure there’s no chance of rain. You don’t want to get caught in a flash flood down there!
- Get off on the Last Shuttle Stop – Temple of Sinawava- for the trailhead to The Narrows.
- The bus ride from Stop 1 (right near Watchman Campground) to Stop 9 (Temple of Sinawava) takes about 40 minutes.
- You Don’t Need to Rent Gear
- Unless you’re going in winter and need a dry suit, you don’t need to rent gear from Zion Outfitters. Just come prepared with your own close-toed water shoes. I used these ones from Amazon but the best ones are these Keen Waterproof Sandals. Also, there are plenty of walking sticks left at the entrance to The Narrows that you can choose from to take along with you on your hike.
- The Hike is as Long as You Want it To Be
- It’s pretty rare to have such an epic hike that literally all fitness levels can enjoy. For The Narrows hike, the first mile is a well-maintained path that leads to the spot where you can enter the river. From here, you can wade through the river as long as you want before turning around and hiking back out. The furthest you’re able to go without a permit is the ~10-mile round trip hike to Big Springs. I went about 2.5 miles in just a bit past the area called “Wall Street” before turning around to come back.
- Bring a Dry Bag
- I recommend protecting your electronics with a dry bag – there’s some spots of the river that are waist-deep, and you don’t want to risk getting your phone or camera wet! (Or if you accidentally slip and fall).
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After The Narrows Hike…
After your hike, your feet are going to be SORE from walking on rocks in the water all day. Head back to your campsite/lodge and relax for a bit, chill in a hammock, have a beer, and just enjoy your surroundings!
Next – Find a Great Place to Watch the Sunset
From the Watchman Campground, we took a stroll down Pa’rus Trail and picked a spot by the river to sit and have a drink and watch the sunset. It was a great area to be in during Golden Hour!
Another great spot to watch the sunset would be the Court of the Patriarchs. This short trail has great views of the canyon that would be amazing at sunset!
Zion National Park Itinerary : Day 2 – Angel’s Landing
Another simply iconic and amazing hike in Zion National Park is the famed Angel’s Landing. This is one of best hikes in Zion, and is definitely a bucketlist hike! This 5.5 mile roundtrip hike starts off with switchbacks up to the top where the last half-mile or so you pull yourself up rocks and along steep edges while holding on to a thin chain for stability. If you’re scared of heights, this hike might not be for you! But if you have a sense of adventure, you’ll love it.
Permits for Angels Landing
You now must have a permit to hike Angels Landing, due to the significant number of hikers that were flocking to this bucket list trail. You can get permits either from the Seasonal Lottery, or the Day-Before lottery.
For the seasonal lottery, you can pick up to 7 preferred dates and times that you want to do the hike. You can apply for the lottery at different times depending on the season you are looking to hike:
- March 1 – May 31: Lottery opens on January 1
- June 1 to August 31: Lottery opens on April 1
- September 1 to November 30: Lottery opens on July 1
- December 1 to February 29: Lottery opens October 1
Learn more at Recreation.gov.
If you didn’t get a permit in the seasonal lottery, you can apply for an Angels Landing permit the day before you plan to hike. The day-before lottery opens at 12:01am and ends at 3pm MT. You will find out if you received a permit by 4pm.
If you didn’t get the seasonal lottery and don’t want to risk doing the day-before lottery and not getting a permit, you have another option! You can sign up for Outdoor Status to track for your dates for any permits that have been cancelled. If a permit is cancelled for any of your preferred dates, Outdoor Status will text you and let you know. Then you just log on and snag it! I’ve used this method for quite a few bucket list permitted hikes, and it’s great.
Tips for Angel’s Landing Hike:
- Get off on shuttle stop #6 – The Grotto – for the Angel’s Landing trailhead. (About a 20 minute bus ride from the first bus stop near Watchman Campground)
- GO EARLY! Similar to The Narrows, Angels Landing is one of the best hikes in Zion, and everyone else knows that too. Expect it to be crowded if you don’t go on one of the first few busses in the morning. The problem with doing this hike during a peak time for crowds is that for the last half-mile on the chain section of the hike, people are coming down the same way you are coming up, causing a sort of traffic jam. You definitely want to avoid that as much as possible.
- Be Hands-Free – Put your water bottle in your backpack (or use a camelbak instead), phone in your pocket, etc. You’ll want both hands available a you scramble up rocks and pull yourself up on the chain.
- Wear Hiking Boots – this should go without saying, but you should definitely wear hiking boots with good tread on this hike so that you are more stable on the rock-scrambling portion.
- Relax and Have Fun! – I had read a lot of blogs and watched some YouTube videos before I went on this hike, and it definitely gets hyped up A LOT about being super scary/hard. Unless you are scared of heights, it’s not that bad (especially if you’ve hiked Half Dome at Yosemite before). Just relax, have your wits about you, hold on to the chain, be smart, and you’ll be fine!
Head to Zion Lodge for a Beer
After you conquer Angels Landing (woo!) head back to shuttle bus stop #6 (The Grotto – where you got off the bus). But instead of hopping back on the bus right away, take the short 0.5 mile flat trail to walk to Zion Lodge. Once at the lodge, order a beer at the counter and sit on the patio, soaking in the views and celebrating your completion of the Angels Landing hike!
Head Back from Zion to Vegas for Your Flight!
Make sure you give yourself enough time on the way back to stop for lunch and return your rental car before getting to the airport!
Other Notable Hikes in Zion (If you have more time, or if you want to do 2 in one day)
- Observation Point
- I’ve heard GREAT things about this 7-mile out & back trail, however it was closed when I was there due to a recent rockslide.
- Emerald Pools Trail
- This 2.9 mile out & back trail takes you through beautiful scenery to the emerald pools. Unfortunately, this trail was also closed due to the rockslide when I was there, but maybe you will have better luck!