As one of the most visited National Parks, it’s no surprise that Zion National Park has a wealth of dramatic scenery for visitors to enjoy. From towering sandstone walls, the rushing Virgin River, chiseled cliff and canyons, and even some areas of lush greenery, everywhere you look there’s a breathtaking view.
Because Zion National Park contains so much beauty, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to make the best use of your time while in the park. To help you decide what you want to do while in Zion, we’ve made a list of the top five must-sees in Zion National Park.
Here are the sights you don’t want to miss in Zion National Park.
Human History Museum
While Zion’s natural features are the star in the park, the area also has a fascinating human history. Spending a little time learning about the people who once lived in the area currently part of the park helps add context to the park’s physical features.
The small museum is carefully curated to give visitors enough information to enhance their visit to the park without overwhelming them with too much. Located right outside of the south entrance, the Zion Human History Museum is a perfect stop for the beginning of a visit or for some short downtime between more adventurous activities in the park.
This path that runs along the Virgin River towards the entrance to the Narrows hiking trail is one of the most pleasant walks in Zion National Park. Riverside Walk is shaded most of the way which along with the river running nearby makes this trail several degrees cooler than many of Zion National Park’s other trails.
As visitors make their way along the trail, they can enjoy the hanging gardens along the walls and watch for water falls on the opposite side of the river. Of course, Riverside Walk ends at the beginning of the Narrows trail. Even if you aren’t planning to hike the Narrows (which is on our list of top five hikes in Zion National Park), it’s still breathtaking to see the beginning of the Narrows.
Located right inside Zion’s east entrance, Checkerboard Mesa is a must-see if you have any interest in geology. This mesa is named after its distinctive checkerboard pattern which is the result of a combination of windblown sand erosion and cracks from stress.
There’s nothing quite like the Checkerboard Mesa anywhere else in Zion. You’ll need to drive to the east side of the park to view this formation, but it’s definitely worth the time. Plus, the east side of the park has a very different landscape than the west side of Zion Canyon, so you’ll get to enjoy dramatically different views on the drive over.
Planning to enjoy some scenic driving while at Zion? We have a guide to the top five drives to do in Zion. Be sure to take a look to find out about more beautiful scenic drives in the park.
Zion National Park has plenty of scenic overlooks, but Lava Point stands out as one of the best places to see the sunset in the park. The overlook is located right next to the Lava Point Campground making it very easy to access. This area is also less crowded than other parts of the park, which makes a huge difference since Zion National Park is so popular that it no longer really has a slow season.
Lava Point overlook is an underrated gem that is well worth seeing while in Zion National Park.The view looking down in Zion Canyon is unlike anything else you’ll see in the park, and there’s a chance that you’ll have it all to yourself.
Most visitors to Zion National Park leave after the sun sets, but if you can stay later or if you are staying overnight in Zion, you have the chance for an unforgettable experience. Stars are more visible at Zion National Park than at most places in the U.S. due to the low amount of light pollution. The park has installed night-friendly lighting at its buildings to help ensure that the night sky is not obstructed.
Zion has designated the Human History Museum patio as the official night sky viewing area. The location is easily-accessible and keeps viewers from being in dangerous areas in the dark. Pa’rus trail is another great location for viewing the stars. The paved pathway is easy to navigate at night as long as you have a light source.
You’ll be surprised by just how many stars you can see in a dark sky at night. There are apps that can tell you exactly what you’re seeing, but it’s also nice just to stand and enjoy the beauty of the night sky.
FAQ about Must-Sees in Zion National Park
What can you see at Zion National Park without hiking?
Zion National Park has plenty of scenic drives that you can take to see the sights without having to hike. You can also visit overlooks like Lava Point for beautiful views without needing to go on a hike.
How many days should I spend in Zion National Park?
If you just want to see the highlights and hike a few of the shorter trails, plan to spend two or three days visiting Zion National Park. Since Zion has so many natural attractions for visitors to explore, plan to spend five to seven days visiting Zion National Park if you have the time. Then, you’ll be able to visit some of the less-crowded, but just as beautiful, portions of the park without rushing.
Can you see Angels Landing without hiking?
The only way to reach the top of Angels Landing in Zion National Park is by requesting a permit and hiking there. However, you can still see plenty of other spectacular views in Zion without needing to hike. Scenic drives and overlooks can provide stunning views without requiring you to go on a difficult, potentially dangerous hike.
Can I visit Zion without the shuttle?
You don’t have to take the shuttle to visit many of Zion’s natural wonders. Places like Lava Point and the Checkerboard Mesa are outside the zone where the shuttle operates, and these areas are usually less crowded. The shuttle only runs from March through November, so you can also choose to time your visit for the months when the shuttle isn’t active. Personal vehicles are allowed during the rest of the year.
Can you see the Milky Way in Zion National Park?
Zion National Park is the perfect place to view the Milky Way during clear summer nights. Like most National Parks, Zion has lower levels of light pollution than other places in the U.S. meaning that the skies are more visible at night than you’ll find almost anywhere else.
Making the Most of Your Visit to Zion National Park
Zion National Park’s impressive natural attractions are part of why visiting this park is so incredibly popular. With such a wealth of things to do and see in Zion, you could spend days and days at the park without managing to get to everything.
Hopefully, our guide to the top must-sees in Zion National Park has helped you decide how you want to spend your time in this breathtaking National Park. As you continue planning your trip to Zion, take a look through our guide to what to bring to Zion National Park to make sure that you have the best possible visit to Zion.