Visiting Zion National Park is on just about everyone's bucket list. The oldest of Utah's 5 incredible national parks, Zion is home to some of America's most stunning, awe-inspiring landscapes, from deep canyons cutting through amber-colored rock to adrenaline-pumping hikes worthy of names like Angels Landing.
And because we know you're ready to get back out there, we're currently giving our readers the chance to win a free trip for 2 to Zion National Park. All you have to do is enter here!
And to make the most of your upcoming trip, here are our top tips for visiting Zion National Park on a budget.
Zion National Park on a budget: Know before you go
Check the forecast
Check the forecast for rain. Even a slight rainfall is enough to make Zion's rock trails dangerously slippery and to cause a flash flood that rips through rivers and canyons (like the famous Narrows). Before heading out, stop at the visitor's center and get the most up-to-date info from a park ranger.
You don't need a car
Zion's free shuttle stops at the park's most popular spots, which means that you can leave your car behind. There's even a second free shuttle that will take you to and from the nearby town of Springdale is that's where you're staying.
Escape the crowds
Most of Zion's top attractions are located within Zion Canyon, so that's where most visitors spend all their time. But if you take the drive out to the lesser-visited Kolob Canyon area of the park, you'll get all of the views with half (or less) of the crowds.
Best hikes in Zion
Pa’rus Trail is one of Zion’s easiest hikes. It’s a wide paved path, making it great for all skill levels, as well as those with bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers, or even dogs. Plus, Pa’rus offers phenomenal views of The Watchman for little effort.
The Narrows is probably Zion National Park’s most iconic hike. This bucket list worthy hike takes you down through a slot canyon and upstream through the virgin river. Be sure to wear closed-toed shoes and bring a walking stick.
With an unmatched view of Zion National Park below, including Angel’s Landing, Observation Point is often suggested as an alternative to Angel’s Landing for hikers that are afraid of heights. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s an easy hike. On this 8-mile hike, you’ll certainly be working for that view.
At just 1-mile round trip, Canyon Overlook provides possibly the best reward to effort ratio in Zion National Park. The trail is short, fun, and offers spectacular views at the lookout point. Just be sure to arrive early, as the trail’s ease makes it quite popular.
Another one of Zion’s easier trails, the Watchman Trail doesn’t actually ascend the towering Watchman Spire. Instead, it offers a spectacular view of The Watchman and the surrounding valley. As with other easier hikes, go early to beat the heat and the crowds.
This hike is certainly not for the acrophobic. Angel’s Landing is one of the world’s most unique hikes, as the final stretch of the trail narrows to just a few feet wide and leads to the top of a 1,488-foot sandstone cliff. Be sure to hold on to the chain and follow safety protocols.
Where to stay on a budget in Zion National Park
Camping in Zion
Of course, camping is going to be the most budget-friendly accommodation in Zion National Park. The park has three campgrounds to choose from. The Watchman Campground and South Campground are both located near the park’s south entrance, making them popular campgrounds where spots fill up fast. Your best bet is to reserve your camping spot well in advance at recreation.gov, weeks or months before your trip.
Lava Point Campground is located a roughly 1-hour drive from Zion Canyon, near the northern entrance of the park. This campground is more barebones, without comfort stations or running water, and is typically only open from May to September.
This isn’t a budget pick but as the only place to stay within the park, Zion Lodge had to make the list. This 3-star hotel has a rustic feel, clean cozy rooms, and unbeatable access to the park’s most popular hikes. Rooms start upwards of $215 per night and can book up as far out as one year in advance.
Springdale, Utah Hotels
Your best bet for finding a place to stay on a budget near Zion is to stay in the town of Springdale, Utah, situated right outside the boundaries of Zion. The town has plenty of options for cheap accommodation, from big chain hotels to small B&B-type operations. Some popular options include the Holiday Inn Express Springdale, Bumbleberry Inn, Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, and Red Rock Inn cottages.
Start planning your trip to Zion
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BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.