Zion features a rare combination of elevation, wide open and level spaces, spectacular slot canyons, great year round temperatures, and an expansive river valley. Check out our itinerary to help inspire and plan your own trip to to Zion National Park.
The Goal of Our Trip to Zion
On a whim, we decided to head to Zion over a long weekend. With only 3 days to spend in Zion (only 1 full day) we wanted to make sure we experienced the best Zion had to offer. We knew we wanted to do two of Zion’s most popular hikes (Angel’s Landing and The Narrows) but we also decided to add an element of real hands on experience – a repelling lesson.
In only 3 days we were able to put together an amazing and fun trip to Zion and didn’t waste a single moment. We were incredibly happy with how the trip went, and while we crammed a lot into 3 days – it never felt rushed. We already plan to return to Zion and include some of other amazing nearby landmarks – Bryce Canyon, The Bend, Antelope Canyon, and The Arches.
3 Day Itinerary for Zion National Park
Angel’s Landing Hike
The Angels Landing hike is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in the world. While this part of the hike is only a half-mile one way, it’s a spectacular half-mile. However, in order to reach the trailhead, you must first hike 2 miles of a steep, but paved trail.
Flight to Las Vegas, landing at 10:30 AM. From there, we rented a car and immediately made our way to Zion. It’s about a 2 hour drive (and a 1 hr time difference), so we arrived in Springdale by 2:30pm (including a quick stop for lunch).
Once we parked our car in the hotel parking lot, we immediately made our way into the park. We payed for our entry passes for the weekend (get a car pass even if you don’t think you’re going to need it) and headed straight to the mandatory shuttle system just near the visitor center.
We took the shuttle to the Angel’s Landing shuttle stop, hopped off, and began our hike. We were racing against time – starting the hike by 3 PM and were expecting the sun to set by 6 PM. Because of that, we knew we needed to make good time, or get caught in the dark.
I did bring a head a headlamp with me, just in case.
We started the hike at 3 PM and made it to the top of Angel’s Landing by 4. There was still plenty of light to take photos and hang out before the sun started to set – at which point we turned around (about 4:30 PM). We made it back at the shuttle by 5:30 PM just in time to catch one of last busses out.
In total, it took us 2 1/2 hours, including a 20-30 minute rest at the top. But we were hiking fast.
The shuttles arrive every 15 minutes or so, and the last shuttle was set to arrive at 6:00 PM. If you’re visiting during mandatory shuttle season, do check the shuttle times (the time at which they end for the evening varies by month). Because of the crowded shuttles at the end of day (it was the day after Thanksgiving) we weren’t able to get on the first shuttle back, and had to wait for another.
We ended our day with a delicious dinner at The Spotted Dog – something more upscale than we had expected – but the food was good and the portions were huge. After our delicious dinner, we headed straight back to our hotel to relax for the rest of our evening.
Arriving back to our hotel, full of delicious food and exhausted from the hike, we ended up going to bed fairly early.
A steep hike, a full backpack, and a solid cardiovascular workout leads to unmatched vistas, long rappels, and an astounding day of desert adventure. Taking a canyoneering lesson while in Zion is a must for any adventure enthusiast! And if you already know canyoneering – go explore The Subway (you’ll need a permit)
Our second day was a full day of repelling with Zion Adventure Company – and they did not disappoint. We woke up at 6:00 AM got ready, had a quick bite to eat, and head out to meet up with our guide from ZAC.
Since our hotel was close by, we only need to walk across the street to meet our guide. From there we got all our gear fitted and sorted, and then discussed the different options we had for the day’s activities.
By 8:00 AM we had all our gear fitted and ready to go. We picked our itinerary for the day and then hopped into our cars and began our drive out to Birch Hollow.
By 8:00AM we started our hike out to the slot canyons. Here we would be given a brief introduction to basic repelling techniques and safety. After our intro, we began our first repel – one of the biggest for the day at almost 200ft.
It was a great day of hiking through slot canyons, repelling down various terrains, and being taught a number of different techniques. We did a total of 12 repels, descending expedition-style and moving deliberately along our path allowing us to get the most out of our time in the canyon. Looking back at the day, it was hard to believe we had fit so much in!
Overall it was an incredibly fun and informative day. If you get the chance, and you’re feeling adventurous, I highly recommend adding something like this to your itinerary.
By 3:30PM we had reached the end of our day of hiking and repelling, and had made it back to the car. From the dirt parking lot, we followed our guide back to Springdale, bringing our awesome day of adventure to an end.
We got back to ZAC by about 4:30PM to drop off our gear, and also took the opportunity to pick up our rental gear (and a map) for hiking The Narrows the following day.
After another tiring day of hiking (and repelling!) we worked up quite the appetite. We ended up at a small Mexican food place just a short walk from our hotel.
Exhausting day – we were out by 8:00 PM.
Hiking The Narrows
The Zion Narrows hike is probably one of the best canyons to hike in all of Zion National Park – and quite possible my personal favorite day hike of all time. The walls of the main canyon close in to form a tall and narrow canyon with the beautifully colored water flowing around you. This is the slot canyon that all other slot canyons are compared to.
We had initially planned to start earlier, but after a tip from our repelling guide, we decided not to get to The Narrows before 830 AM (it would be extra cold if we did). But we also wanted to make sure we left early enough to beat any crowds, and give ourselves enough time to enjoy our hike while still making it back to Las Vegas in time for our evening flight.
We woke up 7:30 AM, slipped on most of our gear for our day in the Narrows, had a quick bite, and drove into Zion to The Temple of Sinawava Parking Lot (the mandatory shuttle was no longer running).
In order to hike the Narrows, you drive all the way to the end of the main Zion road and park at the Temple of Sinawava. We were some of the first people there, and were the first group to begin the hike. We finished putting on all our gear (dry pants, canyoneering shoes, and neoprene socks), grabbed our walking sticks, and headed down the Riverwalk Trail.
As you reach the end of the Riverwalk Trail, you hit the opening of the Narrows Hike. Simply beginning walking forward straight into the river. We continued along the winding river, map in hand, using it to help point out some of the land marks a long the way. Only 1 of the 2 waterfalls was flowing during this time of year, but there were plenty of interesting sights along the way.
It only took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach the Junction of Wall Street and Orderville. From there we followed the canyon further, continuing up into Wall Street. We went as far as we could (we were making great time) until the water levels got too high for our dry pants and forced us to turn back around.
As we looped back we took photos and even took a detour to see Orderville (at the Junction, you turn right instead of left). As we reached the end of Orderville we decided it was a nice little place to stop and have our lunch – 30 minutes later we began our return hike. By 1:30PM we had reached the parking lot – a round trip total of 5 hrs.
We arrived at ZAC by 2 PM in order to drop off all the rental gear – the whole process took 5 minutes. Incredibly simple, literally just walk in and drop it off. From there we hit the road, and began our drive back to Las Vegas for our flight home.
During our day of repelling, our guide mentioned a small ghost town just outside of Springdale. He said if you’re interested, it was worth a short visit. We had time, so we took the small detour. It was a cool town – including a small cemetery and a few houses. We spent maybe 30 minutes in total checking it out and then continued our drive back to the airport.
By 3 PM we had finally started our journey back to the airport to catch our 9 PM flight. We left ourselves enough time to relax on our way back, and even enjoyed a nice meal in Vegas before heading to the airport.
We had more than enough time between arriving in Vegas and needing to be at the airport, so we stopped for some delicious Spanish Tapas and wine to celebrate a fun and successful weekend of adventure.
Our adventure was over. We had a great time, and quickly decided it was somewhere we would be returning (sooner than later).
What to Pack for Zion National Park
Below is a quick packing list for what we brought with us. You can go here to see a more detailed pack list for traveling to Zion National Park.
- Carry On Sized Suitcase – I use this suitcase by Travel Pro because not only is it a great suitcase, but Amazon had it at a steal.
- Daypack – I love my Osprey Daylight
- Water Bottle/Hydration Reservoir – (2L) I carry my water in a reservoir for easy access
- Dry Bag/Stuff Sack – This is a great waterproof sack to keep your stuff dry
- Trail Running Shoes/Hiking Shoes – I like to hike with these shoes from New Balance (Women’s) (Men’s)
- Merino Wool Socks (3 pair) – I used these short socks (Women’s) (Men’s) while hiking in Zion.
- Long Pants (2 Pair) – I absolutely love these pants by Outdoor Research (Women’s) (Men’s) – would recommend them to anyone.
- T-Shirts (3) – Merino wool, or anything that’s a blend will serve you much better.
- Warm Jacket – Layering is your friend. I use The North Face’s Thunder Jacket (Women’s) (Men’s). Fleece are also a good option but don’t pack down nearly as well.
- Waterproof/Resistant Jacket – I used this water resistant jacket by Outdoor Research (Women’s) (Men’s).
- Beanie – My beanie was great inside The Narrows, and I often wore it at night as the cold air picked up.
- Hat – Whether it’s a baseball cap, or a full brimmed hat, choose what works best for you. I use a bandana made by Buff – it’s very versatile (Unisex).
- Sunglasses – You definitely don’t want to forget these!
- Camera + Memory + Charger – This is an adventure of a lifetime! You definitely want a way to capture all the amazing sights you’re about to see.
- Flashlight/Headlamp – I prefer headlamps over flashlights.
- Sunscreen – Zion is a beautiful national park, you’re going to be out in the sun all day enjoying it.
- Chapstick – It’s dry – your lips will thank you.
- Basic First Aid – Basic items include aspirin, ibuprofen, bandaids, Neosporin, and moleskin.