The road into Zion Canyon is 6 miles (9.7 km) long, ending at the Temple of Sinawava (map), which is named for the coyote god of the Paiute Indians. The Zion Canyon road is served by a free shuttle bus from early April to late October and by private vehicles the other months of the year. Other roads in Zion are open to private vehicles year-round.
The Kolob Terrace area (map), northwest of Zion Canyon, features a slot canyon called The Subway (map), and a panoramic view of the entire area from Lava Point (map). The Kolob Canyons (map) section, further to the northwest near Cedar City (map), features Tucupit Point and one of the world’s longest natural arches, Kolob Arch (map).
Other notable geographic features of Zion Canyon include Angels Landing (map), The Great White Throne (map), the Court of the Patriarchs (map), The Sentinel (map), The West Temple (map), Towers of the Virgin (map), the Altar of Sacrifice (map), The Watchman (map), Weeping Rock (map), and the Emerald Pools (map).
Zion Canyon Visitor Center (map). Located near the south entrance and the main access to the Zion Canyon Shuttle. There’s some interesting exhibits to help further plan your visit, like topographical models of the park and video screens.
Driving through Zion is an incredible experience, but to enter Zion and not take at least a short walk would be foolish. The park is a hiker’s mecca, with trails of varying difficulty and length, ranging from easy strolls to steep climbs or backcountry hikes.
The park information desk provides detailed information and overview maps for the main day hikes and trails ranging from short strolls to strenuous hikes of several hours. Longer backcountry hikes with overnight camping have to be discussed with the park rangers in order to reserve spots for the limited back country camp sites in the park.
+ Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau
The Narrows (map) is an extremely popular off-trail hike. The route follows the North Fork of the Virgin River, along the floor of a very narrow canyon with impossibly high walls. This trek is one of the park’s most amazing destinations. The full hike is a 16-mile (26-km) one-way trip. The Narrows may close at times due to high waters or flash-flood danger.
As free dispersed camping is permitted on Bureau of Land Management land, it’s trivial to camp for free right outside the border of Zion. For example, Kolob Terrace Road–which is about 30km from Springdale just outside the park–has plenty of spots on BLM land. Just drive down that road and pay attention to the “now entering Zion” and “now leaving Zion” signs.
The bits between the “leaving” and “entering” are mostly BLM land. There are many pull-offs on BLM land on this road where you can camp for free. As this road goes in-and-out of the park, there’s also many trailheads along it.