The 6-mile road into Zion winds through the hidden valley and dead ends within the park at the Temple of Sinawava. Along the way the drive meanders past campgrounds, the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, the Zion Human History Museum the Zion Lodge, following the North Fork of the Virgin River. In winter, the sun barely hits the canyon floor, so driving and walking should be done with caution. The Court of the Patriarchs can be seen to the East. The three stunning mountains are called Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Mount Moroni’s red peak stands guard over the trio.
You don’t have to drive to take a scenic drive. From late March through October visitors must take the shuttle, leaving their private vehicles at the visitors center (usually full by 10 a.m.) or in the town of Springdale. Campers and lodgers can get a special permit to drive to their destination. The free shuttle includes nine stops within the canyon; a second includes nine stops in Springdale. Visitors are welcome to get off at trailheads and stops throughout the valley. The next bus will be along in about six minutes.
During peak visitation seasons, the park also offers a variety of ranger-led activities to help you get the inside scoop on the park. At 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. daily, starting at the Zion Canyon Visitors Center, rangers will take you on a 90-minute guided shuttle ride up and down the canyon. The tickets are available up to 24 hours in advance and usually “sell” out. Seating is limited, but this is a great way to get an overview of what makes Zion unique.
At 11:25 a.m. and 2:25 p.m. at the Zion Human History Museum and at 3 p.m. at the lodge, rangers will lead Patio Talks. These 20- 30-minute talks cover a range of issues, so check the schedule posted at key locations to ensure that you don’t miss a favorite talk. In the evening, the park presents 45-minute Evening Programs in Watchman Campground amphitheater and at the Zion Lodge.
These varied programs are meant to inspire and educate and can feature film, slides, and other forms of presentation. Finally, rangers often lead Guided Hikes to key locations. These easy hikes are typically appropriate for everyone, but check with the Visitors Center if you have health problems or other limitations.
The Zion Field Institute is for those who want to go a step further.
With specialized classes in photography and seasonal information, participants may hike with a field biologist or work repairing Zion trails. These paid programs help support the park, even as participants learn how to help preserve and protect it.