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The Greater Zion Visitor Center is a must for anyone interested in exploring the natural wonders of southwest Utah.

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Five Tips for Maximizing Your Experience in Greater Zion

Make the Most of Your Time in Greater Zion

Unsurprisingly, recent data shows that more people than ever are visiting national parks. With Zion National Park, four state parks and unlimited outdoor pursuits, Greater Zion has welcomed an influx of adventure-seeking visitors over the last two years. As you plan your dream vacation to the region, here are five key Greater Zion tips that will help you maximize your experience.

rock climbing in snow canyon state park

Rock Climbing in Snow Canyon State Park

Book in Advance

Although it can be fun to be spontaneous, it’s always best to be prepared and plan ahead. Whether it comes to your hotel, activities or even dinner reservations, booking it ahead of time will allow you to plan your itinerary more efficiently. With hotels and outfitters selling out weeks in advance, we recommend securing reservations at least three weeks – if not a month – prior to your vacation.

Be Prepared & Know Before You Go

Knowledge is key, so doing your research ahead of time is one of the best practices when vacation planning. Before you arrive, we recommend you become aware of trail closures, activity permits and state park boating rules and regulations. It’s also never a bad idea to check the weather ahead of time, so you can plan to bring extra water and sunscreen in the heat or extra layers in the cold. Also be aware of fire restrictions, heat advisories, flash flood warning and more. For more travel tools to assist in planning, visit our travel tools page.

Another great resource is the Greater Zion app, which provides current national park conditions and travel insights. This app is connected to sensors inside the national park for live data and visitor tips for navigating entrance stations, parking and shuttle services. Travelers can glimpse the level of visitation at park entrances, estimated wait times and resources to plan adventures. Real-time data allows travelers to optimize their days and times when visiting the park and popular trails.

Hire Local Experts

Greater Zion is filled with amazing outfitters who can take travelers to little-known areas or maximize their experience in popular spots. For example, Yankee Doodle Canyon is a popular spot for canyoneering, but some guides will take clients to even more spectacular spots that aren’t on a map. They often will ask clients to turn off their phone GPS to keep these locations undiscovered.

Guides not only allow travelers to try something new, but they also provide local insight into the history of the region, trail lore and fun facts about Greater Zion. From canyoneering to hiking, mountain biking and OHV guides, there is an expert to help travelers try something new or get more out of their vacation experience. Most of the activities on our Things to Do page contain lists of outfitters and guides.

Woman canyoneering near Zion National Park

Canyoneering near Zion National Park

Escape the Crowds

Zion National Park is the third most visited park in the United States, but it’s only one part of the Greater Zion experience. For an even greater experience, we encourage you to not only visit the national park, but to spend even more time exploring the surrounding area.

Greater Zion offers four state parks, hiking and canyoneering as well as reservoirs for boating and other water sports, Sand Mountain for OHV, 13 golf courses and so much more. With miles and miles of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to explore, which don’t require a fee to access, the list of things to see and do outside of Zion National Park just gets longer and longer. Joshua Tree National Landmark, just southwest of St. George, features the Dr. Seuss-like cactus tree and Water Canyon, located on the backside of Zion National Park, offers amazing views, great hiking and hidden arches and rock formations.

If you’re keen on visiting the national park, but want to avoid the crowds as much as possible, consider exploring some of the lesser-known areas such as Kolob Terrace and Kolob Canyons. Or, consider accessing the national park during alternative times. Historically, morning and late afternoon have been busier times to access Zion Canyon. Look at alternative times of day and consider a mid-week visit to experience the park.

More information on hikes inside and outside the park is available at The site not only provides hiking recommendations, but insights on bike, OHV and horseback riding trail options.

Explore All Things Local

Take time to get to know the communities that make up Greater Zion such as St. George, Hurricane Valley, and Springdale. Explore local museums, visit historic sites or attend a theater performance. There also are local events such as Saturday farmers’ markets in both St. George and Hurricane or the Saturday Market at Tuacahn Center for the Arts in Ivins, as well as live evening theater at Tuacahn, community venues or St. George Musical Theater.

As you hit the area, consider stopping in to the Greater Zion Visitor Information Center in downtown St. George to pick up maps, information on historic walking tours, and more resources.

Outdoor theatre

Tuacahn Amphitheatre

Now, get planning with these Greater Zion tips, and we’ll see you real soon!