Planning a trip to Zion National Park, one of America’s favorite National Parks, filled with red-rock canyons, waterfalls, and rivers is exciting. It’s easy to dream and plan for all the things that you’ll do during your visit.
But, figuring out what to bring can be a little bit trickier. How exactly do you pack everything you need to have a trip that lives up to your dreams of visiting this beautiful American treasure?
There are a lot of factors that go into packing for Zion National Park, including the time of year you’re visiting and the activities you plan to do while in the park. To make sure you bring exactly what you need, keep reading as we go through the different options.
If you’re not quite sure what you want to do while in the park yet, read our guides to the top five must-sees in Zion and the top five hikes in Zion to figure that out before you start planning what to pack.
Things to Pack for Zion National Park
Here is a list of suggested items to bring to Zion National Park to help you have a safe, stress-free experience in the park.
Warm Weather Items
Summer is the most popular time to visit Zion National Park. While the mornings and evenings can sometimes be a little cool during the summer, the middle of the day can get hot, so it’s important to be prepared.
Be sure to bring sunscreen to wear even on cloudy days. Many of the trails at Zion are exposed to the sun. You can get too much sun more quickly than you realize.
In addition to the sunscreen, pack a wide-brim hat and sunglasses to help shield yourself from the harsh summer sun.
Cold Weather Items
If you plan to visit Zion National Park from October to May instead of during the summer months, then you’ll need to plan a bit differently to be prepared for the cooler weather.
The temperature can fluctuate during the day, so layers are the best idea. Plan to bring a thick fleece, a warm jacket, heavy gloves, and a warm hat that you can add or remove as needed. You might warm up more than you expect while hiking, so you need to be able to remove excess layers to avoid sweating under your clothes.
Obviously, when it comes to clothing, you’ll need to take the weather into account. Regardless of the time of year you visit Zion National Park, it’s a good idea to pack layers that you can add or remove. During warm months, these layers will be lighter, and during the cool months, you’ll need more layers.
In general, plan to bring shorts or light-weight pants for hiking. Most people hike during the summer, so shorts are necessary for staying cool. If you’re going on less popular paths though, light-weight pants will help you stay cool while also protecting you from stray branches or thorns. Even if the weather is supposed to be warm, always tuck a light-weight jacket into your bag. The temperature can rapidly swing from warm to cold.
Be sure to bring a poncho as well. If it starts to rain while you’re on a trail, you’ll need to stay as dry as possible. Once the rain stops, it will take a while for your clothes to dry off. If the temperature is cool and there’s no way for you to get dry clothes quickly, the combination could be dangerous.
The last thing you want to do while at Zion is have the wrong shoes. At best, you’ll be uncomfortable during your visit, and at worst, you could get injured. With all the hiking you’ll be doing, you want to ensure you bring the right ones.
Think about what you plan to do at Zion when deciding what footwear you need. Most people will need closed-toe hiking shoes or good tennis shoes. If you plan to go on a trail like the Narrows, bring water shoes that won’t slip while trekking through the river.
Don’t forget to pack good quality socks as well. Normal socks may not be enough to keep you from getting blisters during a full day of hiking and exploring.
Maybe consider bringing sandals. While you shouldn’t hike in sandals, it can be nice to switch to sandals in the evening if you’re staying at the park overnight. Plus, if you only plan to walk along some of the easy trails like Canyon Overlook, sturdy sandals may be enough.
Food and Water
When you’re out exploring and hiking the trails in Zion, it’s important to stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up. You never know when a hike is going to take longer than you expect or when you might end up stuck somewhere.
Always bring plenty of water along. Fill up your water bottle before heading out on a trail and refill at any stations along the way. Bring more water than you expect to need.
Pack easy to carry snacks like dried fruit and protein bars that you can eat as needed. Zion National Park does have a lodge with a restaurant, but if you aren’t planning to eat there, you’ll also need to bring lunch with you if you plan on staying at the park all day.
Besides the basics above, there are other items that are either necessary or will make your time at Zion much more enjoyable.
Let’s start with the essentials. First, you need to have a backpack or daypack with you in order to carry your items while leaving your hands free. You should also have at least a small first aid kit with you just in case of emergency.
For nice-to-have items, bring bug spray and a portable phone charger. The bug spray may or may not be necessary depending on the time of year and which area of Zion you’re in. However, if you need bug spray, but don’t have it, your day will get miserable pretty quick.
A portable phone charger is also nice to have if you plan to use your phone to take photos or if you’re using the National Park maps app to navigate around the park. You can find tiny phone chargers about the size of a tube of lipstick that will fully recharge your phone once without adding too much weight to your bag.
For more specialized equipment, think about what activities you plan to do while at Zion.
If you plan to spend time at the park at night, bring a flashlight. Zion has very low-levels of light pollution, so it’s darker at night in Zion than it is in most of the rest of the United States.
If you plan to hike trails that cross through water (like the Narrows), you’ll benefit from having hiking poles to help you keep your balance and a waterproof phone case to protect your phone if you slip in the water.
If you plan on camping, biking, or climbing while at Zion, you’ll want to bring the equipment that you need for those activities as well.
FAQ about What to Bring to Zion National Park
How should I dress for Zion National Park?
The proper attire for Zion National Park depends on the weather. Check the forecast in advance, and expect for the temperature to fluctuate. Always wear appropriate clothing for the predicted temperatures, and dress in layers, so you can add or remove clothing as needed.
Do I need hiking boots for Zion National Park?
The best footwear for Zion National Park depends on the activities you plan to do there. If you plan to hike strenuous trails, bring hiking boots. For most non-strenuous trails, tennis shoes or other closed-toe shoes are perfectly fine.
Do you need bug spray in Zion National Park?
Bring bug spray with you to Zion National Park. The park is home to a large number of bugs. If you’re lucky, they won’t be out during your visit, but if the bugs are active during your trip, you’ll be glad to have bug spray with you.
What should I bring to Zion in the summer?
During the summer months, make sure that you have clothing that will keep you cool. This includes choosing light-colored clothing rather than dark-colored clothing. Be sure to bring sunscreen as well.
Can you bring food into Zion National Park?
You can bring food into Zion National Park. Options for buying food within the park are limited, so plan ahead and bring outside food and snacks with you.
Preparing for Your Visit to Zion National Park
Making sure that you have the right items with you when visiting Zion National Park will help you enjoy your visit (and, in some cases, keep you safe). You may need to adjust what you pack depending on what you plan to do while at the park, but hopefully, this list has given you a good idea of where to start.
As you plan for your trip to Zion National Park, be sure to check out our guide to the top five drives to do in Zion.