Zion National Park - One of the most beautiful places to ride a bike in the world - The Dolomites of the United States!
Cycling Zion National Park
Sunrise at Pedestrian Bridge at Canyon Junction.
Intersection of Highway 9 and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
Sunset at the Pedestrian Bridge.
Zion National Park is Utah’s first National Park, established in 1919 by Woodrow Wilson. The most popular area of the park is Zion Canyon, a 15 mile road accessed by shuttle only (unless you stay at Zion Lodge, located within the canyon). The canyon walls are reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone and make for a stunningly beautiful ride. The canyon is up to 2,640’ deep in places.
Zion Canyon and Scenic Drive
View south towards junction Scenic Drive and Highway 9.
Scenic Drive and Zion Canyon as seen from Angels Landing.
At only 149,597 acres, Zion National Park is smallish in comparison to many other National Parks. While small in size, this is one of the most beautiful National Parks in the United States, as well as one of the most popular, ranking third in number of visitors per year (after Great Smoky Mountains NP and Grand Canyon NP). Zion was the 4th most visited national park in 2018 (4,320,033 visitors).
Weather Report: The best times of year to visit and cycle Zion NP are in May (when the average high temperature is 85°F and there are only six rainy days on average), and September and October (when the average temperatures are 91°F and 78°F respectively, and the average rainy days are 4.7 and 5.1). The average high temperatures in June through August range from 96°F to 101°F.
Below we will list some Frequently Asked Questions, along with our answers to those questions, about cycling Zion.
How to get around in Zion National Park: You can drive your car from Springdale, through the park entrance, and up Highway 9 to the tunnel, and on all the way to the Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon. OR . . . you can RIDE YOUR BIKE all over the park which is certainly the best way to see Zion! We are so blessed to have the opportunity to ride our bikes in amazing places, and we love taking advantage of these chances. Riding through parks and scenic areas on bike gives us the opportunity to view our surroundings better than by any other means. We get around on bike quickly and can stop nearly anywhere we want to view and record the beauty of our surroundings -- it doesn’t get any better than that.
Cyclists must yield to the shuttle on Scenic Drive.
There’s also a great and free shuttle system that has nine stops and picks up/drops off about every 7-10 minutes during the day, beginning at 6 a.m. from the Visitor Center, and ending at 8:30 pm (into the canyon) and 10 pm (into Springdale). The shuttle generally runs from March through November. There is room for several bikes on the front of each shuttle. However, we recommend riding through the park and not using the shuttle. You can ride your bikes to the many awesome trailheads (e.g. Angels Landing Stop 6, or the end of the line Stop 9, which is the trailhead for Zion Narrows day hike).
How much does it cost to cycle in Zion NP?: As of 2019, the entrance fee is $15. More information about riding your bike within the park can be found on the National Parks Service’s website, here.
Can I cycle to a trailhead and leave my bike while I hike?: Yes. Each shuttle stop has an outside unmonitored bike area where you can lock your bike, so bring a cable and lock.
Where do I stay when visiting Zion National Park?: There are many hotels in Springdale, about two miles from Scenic Drive. We stayed at the Majestic View Lodge (about $150 per night in 2019).
View from our room at Majestic View Lodge.
The most convenient, and most expensive, option is Zion Lodge (about $250 total per night). This hotel is about halfway into Zion Canyon and stop #5 on the shuttle route.
BIKE CLIMBS IN ZION NATIONAL PARK
Photo - from upper left clockwise:
36 miles from Springdale
Gorgeous climb from start to finish, the road is like glass.
5.2 miles gaining 1,236’ at 4.1%.
18 miles from Springdale
Ride 15.4 miles gaining 4,432’ at 5.3%.
In the park
3.3 miles gaining 740’ at 4.3%.
In the park
Ride 6.2 miles gaining 440’ at 1.1%.
What it lacks in challenge it more than makes up for in beauty!
TOP HIKES IN ZION NATIONAL PARK
2.4 miles one way, a strenuous hike.
Stop 6 on the shuttle route. Go early because the crowds at the top along the cables can get very heavy. If you have a fear of heights (like I do), this will be a tough one as the last quarter mile up the cables is, well, for lack of a better word, scary.
Hairpins on the way to Angels Landing.
Chains the last quarter mile.
PJAMM 2, FEAR 0!!
Aerial view of Angels Landing -- hike up from right to left.
6-8 miles one way, a mild hike
This famous hike is along a tributary to the Virgin River (The Zion Narrow). This is Stop 9 (the last stop) on the Zion Shuttle.
Warning: Due to flash flood danger, do not do this hike if there is a forecast for rain that day.
Gear: You are hiking (or swimming if you do the entire route) through water most of the route -- bring good quality water or mountain running shoes. Bring a light day pack, wind jacket, shorts and ensure all clothing is fast drying.
When to photograph the Narrows: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. is recommended.
When to hike the Narrows: Later in the season when the river flow is lower is best -- September/October are ideal.
How long is the hike?: We started from the bottom and did the out and back which is three to four miles each way, depending how far you go up river -- you may have to swim to go past the three mile mark, depending on the water depth.
THE WATCHMAN TRAIL
3 miles round trip, a moderate hike
Access The Watchman from Shuttle Stop #3 (Zion Visitor Center).
1 mile round trip, an easy hike
Access via Shuttle Stop 7.