Here is the perfect way to spend one day in Zion National Park!
Not sure how to see best the places at Zion National Park in one day? Here’s a recommended Zion National Park 1 day itinerary to get the most of your one day at Zion National Park – one of the most popular of all National Parks. This one day itinerary does include some of the best Zion hikes, so bring your hiking shoes!
Tip: Be prepared for a busy day!
Where to stay in Zion National Park
To see Zion in one day, it would be best to spend the night in Springdale the night before and the day of your visit. There are many local and chain hotels from which to choose. However, if you want to make the Angel’s Landing hike part of your one day at Zion, it would be best to stay at the Zion Lodge inside the park as it would allow you to get an early start on the hike. If you decide to stay in Springdale, Zion’s entrance is located at the edge of town.
The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is only accessible via the Zion Shuttle during most of the year.
If staying in Springdale, you can take the Springdale Shuttle into Zion. Additionally, there is public parking in Springdale.
You can leave your car at Zion Lodge only if you are lodging there.
Read more about the schedule on the Zion shuttle website.
Option 1 including Angel’s Landing hike for One Day at Zion NP
Angel’s Landing – Best Hike in Zion!
Angel’s Landing is one of the most popular Zion hikes, maybe one of the most popular in all the National Parks.
If you are a sunrise hiker and want to squeeze every bit into your one day at Zion NP, begin your day from Zion Lodge by taking the trail from the lodge to The Grotto which connects to the Angel’s Landing trail. To beat the shuttle buses, plan to start your hike no later than 6:30am. If you can start at 6am, even better!
Tip: As you approach The Grotto before crossing the road, look for turkeys! You may hear them before you see them.
Angel’s Landing is a strenuous hike of 5.4 miles roundtrip climbing almost 1500 feet in elevation to the top of the canyon. The trail is steep, has many switchbacks, and climbing along chains. If you are in good shape and aren’t afraid of heights, this hike is a must.
Tip: If you aren’t staying at Zion Lodge, you will have to wait until the shuttle buses start running at 7am. Take the shuttle bus to The Grotto, shuttle stop #6. Also, if you are short on time or want to avoid the chains, stop at Scout Lookout which is 3.8 miles roundtrip. Remember, most would say this is the best hike at Zion!
You should expect the hike to Angel’s Landing to take you approximately 4-5 hours depending on the crowds and how far you go.
Lunch at Zion Lodge
You may either take the shuttle back to Zion Lodge, shuttle stop #5, or if energy allows, take the connector trail back to the lodge where there are a couple lunch (or breakfast) options.
Lower Emerald Pools
After lunch, walk across the street from Zion Lodge and take the short hike of 1.2-miles to Lower Emerald Pools. This is a very scenic route with the end placing you directly behind the falls. Make sure to walk completely around the falls (until the trail ends) as you get different views of the falls and canyon.
Typically, Upper Emerald Pools would be recommended, but this hike is temporarily closed. It is another 1-mile from Lower Emerald once the trail re-opens.
Tip: Be extremely careful as the trail does get wet and slick!
RELATED: Visiting other Utah National Parks in one day? Check out how to spend one day at Bryce Canyon National Park!
From Emerald Pool, hop on the Zion Shuttle to shuttle stop #9, Temple of Sinawava, for an easy stroll down Riverside Walk. Riverside Walk is probably one of the easiest, most popular and scenic trails in the park. The path is paved and follows the Virgin River through a narrow canyon. If enough water is running, there is a high waterfall at the beginning of the trail.
This is also the connecting trail for The Narrows, another popular hike.
Tip: Since this is an easy trail, be prepared for large crowds especially during peak seasonal times.
Back on the shuttle bus, go 2 stops to Weeping Rock, shuttle stop #7. The hike up to the rock is a short 0.2-mile hike, but it is a little steep and can be slippery, so be careful!
Worth the stop, seeing the beauty of the water coming from the rock.
Take the shuttle to stop # 3, Canyon Junction for the Pa’rius trail. This is a paved path where you may see wheelchairs, bicycles, rollerblades and more. However, this Zion trail is very flat and quiet. It isn’t one of the highly traveled trails, so this is a must if you are looking to avoid some of the crowds.
Don’t miss the right turn for the Museum, where you can stop to see the National Park video on Zion.
The Visitor Center is short walk from the museum. Stop here for the gift shop and to stamp your National Park Passport book!
Zion Mt. Carmel Highway
If you have access to a car, taking a drive through the park on the Zion Mt. Carmel Highway which runs between the south entrance of Zion National Park and to the Mount Carmel Junction.
While cars aren’t allowed on the Scenic Drive most of the year, they can go on the highway with very limited parking at a few stops.
This drive includes spectacular views and the 1.1-mile Zion Mt. Carmel tunnel. One stop to not miss along the way is Checkerboard Mesa!
Tip: The highway can get crowded during peak seasonal, so going later in the day can provide some traffic relief. Also, be sure to check the rules for oversize vehicles if driving anything other than a car or SUV.
Another route excluding Angel’s Landing for One Day at Zion National Park
If sunrise isn’t your thing, try the following route from the Visitor Center.
- Riverside Walk
- Weeping Rock
- The Grotto / Angel’s Landing – Even if you aren’t doing the entire Angel’s Landing hike. Hike 1-2 miles up the first set of switchbacks to get an incredible view of the canyon below!
- Emerald Pool
- Pa’rius Trail / Museum
- Drive on Zion Mt Carmel Highway
- Checkerboard Mesa
What to pack for One Day at Zion National Park
- For Angel’s Landing, water, energy drink and snacks.
- Sandals – if the water is low enough to get into Virgin River for a cool down
- Water, water, water! The air is dry – you can’t have too much water.
- Rain jacket – In can still rain in the desert at the anytime.
- Sense of adventure!
Regardless of the route you decide to take, spending a day at Zion National Park will be forever imprinted on your mind!