Zion National Park is deservedly one of the most visited national parks in the country, racking up 4.5 million visitors in 2017. With sweeping vistas and colorful rocks, a sightseeing shuttle and both accessible and extremely challenging trails, Zion has something for everyone.
Only the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, with 11.3 million visitors, and Grand Canyon National Park, with 6.3 million, drew more visitors in 2017 than Zion. Yosemite National Park was close behind with 4.34 million.
All these people have caused some changes to how the National Park system handles visitors. Zion allows no private vehicles past Canyon Junction; all visitors are required to walk or ride the free shuttle to traverse the length of the valley floor.
Even with the shuttle system, wait times to get on the shuttle can take up to an hour, two hours or more on weekends and holidays.
Home to Angel’s Landing and The Narrows, Zion offers some extremely challenging outdoor experiences. These popular hikes are also being considered for a permit system. Angel’s Landing, in particular, can be frustrating and very dangerous to navigate the chain portion of the trail with the high number of people traversing the cliff.
The dramatic scenery of Zion is understandably a huge draw. The rock formations show differently colored layers of rock. The Virgin River, which cuts through the rocks along the valley floor, provides a vital water source for the flora and fauna.
And, fauna are everywhere, including mule deer, wild turkeys, coyotes and desert big horn sheep, in addition to the ubiquitous squirrels, chipmunks and smaller creatures.
Zion is approximately a seven-hour drive through Las Vegas from Burbank. While the Zion Lodge in the park tends to be full up, there are plenty of hotels in the adjacent town of Springdale, which are also served by a free shuttle bus to the Visitor Center.
Restaurants in the town are okay. Some are pretty good for being out in the country. Utah law requires the serving of food with alcoholic beverages for restaurants, so if you’re going to knock back a cold one, you’ll be required to purchase food as well. Bars are very few and very far between.
We really enjoyed the food at Casa de Amigos (solid, tasty Mexican) and Zion Pizza & Noodle (excellent pizzas.) The Red Rock Grill at Zion Lodge and the Zion Brewing Company near the Visitor Center were also pretty good although they offered a similar menu.
More information on Zion National Park can be found here. Currently, standard vehicle entry fees, good for seven days, are $35 for a private vehicle, $30 per motorcycle or $20 per person. Various group fees are also available.
National Park officials recently announced they would be instituting a visitor reservation system for Zion in the future, but more details on the change are still forthcoming. So Get Out Of Town, Burbank, and visit someplace new, like the spectacular sandstone canyons of Zion National Park.
Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.