The best time to visit Zion National Park is from April through November when all the attractions are open, and free shuttles are running.
As with many of the country’s national parks, fall is the best time to visit Zion. During this period, the temperatures hover in the mid-70s during the day and 40s at night. This moderate weather is ideal for campers and hikers alike.
April to November
The best time to visit Zion National Park lasts eight months, with lovely shoulder seasons in April and November. Crowds are also smaller in April and November. The weather is pleasant during these shoulder months, with daily average temperatures in the mid-to-high 60s.
The peak season begins in May and lasts until October, bringing the most visitors and the greatest lodging costs. Summers in Zion are hot, with temperatures in July sometimes reaching 100ºF, making certain outdoor activities difficult and potentially hazardous.
What’s on :
- National Park Week (April)
- Plein Art Invitational (July)
- Zion Canyon Music Festival (September)
- DOCUTAH (November)
- Butch Cassidy 10K/5K (November)
December to March
December through March is known for its mild weather, with lows and highs averaging in the 30s and 50s in December and the 30s and 60s in March.
While winter temperatures remain warm enough to enjoy the park, some higher elevation attractions, such as Angels Landing and Observation Point, may not be accessible due to weather.
What’s on :
- Zion Joy to the World (December)
Best time for camping
The best time for camping in Zion National Park is in October.
As with many of the country’s national parks, campgrounds fill up quickly in the summertime, limiting availability for those who don’t reserve well in advance. Alternatively, you can consider dispersed camping as the campsites are free.
By October, crowds in Zion have thinned considerably, making campgrounds more accessible. Temperatures from June through September routinely reach well into the 90s, making outdoor sleeping uncomfortable.
October offers a more comfortable month for camping with daily highs dropping into the 70s and nighttime lows hovering around 50 degrees.
Read More : Best Campgrounds in Zion National Park
Best time for hiking
The best time for hiking in Zion National Park is September and October.
With daytime highs in the summer reaching well into the 90s and many of the park’s best hikes receiving a high degree of sun exposure, the fall months afford a better opportunity for hiking. Hiking at this time is more comfortable and requires you to carry in less water for hydration.
And, with fewer visitors to the park, you can avoid the crowds that mass at Zion’s most popular trails. You can also safely visit the park’s slot canyons, which are susceptible to dangerous flash floods in the spring months.
Read More : Best Hiking Trails in Zion National Park
Best time to avoid crowds
The best time to avoid the crowds at Zion National Park is from November through March. Historically, January is the least crowded month with only 2% of the annual visitors going to Zion.
The busiest months are from April to September with these 6 months amounting to 70% of the yearly visitors. While crowds begin to thin after Labor Day, but if you really want an intimate experience at the park you need to wait until later in the fall.
While the weather may be cooler, with highers dipping into the 50s, the crowds are much much smaller, allowing you to enjoy the park’s more popular attractions without having to search for a parking space or share the trail with dozens of other hikers. If you crave solitude, this is the time to go.
Best time for canyoneering and rock climbing
The best time for canyoneering and rock climbing at Zion National Park is from September through early November.
The heat of the summer makes rock climbing difficult with temperatures reaching triple digits. Summer also features heavy rainstorms, which can weaken the sandstone canyons, potentially causing holds to break.
Canyoneering is also more enjoyable during the early fall when the weather is still warm. Early spring and late summer are hazardous times for exploring the park’s canyons as spring rain coupled with snowmelt can cause flash flooding, making the park’s slot canyons a potential hazard.
Remember to check the NPS website for the latest updates of closures.
Best time to drive along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
The best time to drive along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is December through March. This period is also the least crowded month at Zion.
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles from March through November. During this time you must take a Zion Canyon shuttled through the scenic drive. Getting tickets to the shuttle can be difficult if you don’t reserve them ahead of time.
While the shuttles do give you the opportunity to see and experience the drive during peak seasons, you can have a more solitary experience on your own vehicle by visiting the park in its off-season. Just keep your eyes open as rockfalls are common on the drive.
Best time for horse riding
The best time for horse riding in Zion Canyon National Park is November through March.
The park’s horseback riding trails occur at the park’s lower elevations where temperatures can reach triple digits in the summertime and even well into the 80s in the spring and fall, making the horseback riding uncomfortable for both man and beast.
During the winter, temperatures are mild, with daytime highs reaching into the 50s and 60s. This is optimal weather for horseback riding. You’re also more likely to spot wildlife from horseback during the winter. Numerous ranches offer horseback riding experiences into the park year-round.
Amanda Williams is a writer, plant-nerd, and outdoor enthusiast. She has traveled extensively, around the U.S., throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Everywhere she treks, she takes time to enjoy the outdoors. John Muir is her hero. She aspires to inspire people to live better as he did.