We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

Salt Lake City, Utah
1 post
Save Topic
Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

We are planning a trip to Zion in October 2017. Now I'm hearing horror stories of 2-4 hour waits to get on the shuttle buses, huge waits to drive into the park, overcrowded trails etc. It's been a few years since we've been there-has it gotten so crowded that we should change plans?

Any tips on beating the lines?

36 replies to this topic
Tacoma, Washington
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
11,180 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

Parks are realy popular---especially in 2016 given it was the park service 100th anniversary.

from June-September is the busy time. the 2-4 hr wait is for the shuttle bus intot he park so if you stay in springdale you need to go in early at not wait till 10am. October if not a weekend day shouldn't be as bad.

With more visitors the popular trails will be busier. You can thank Utah's tourism office...

Kipling. SK
Destination Expert
for Zion National Park
Level Contributor
7,015 posts
131 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

The obvious tip is to avoid fee free days and long weekends. No fee free days in Oct that I can see, and am thinking stay away from Columbus day(i think) Might also consider not visiting in the peak months(ie winter, December-March). October is still good weather in Zion, which is not hot anymore.It is also obvious to reach the park gates early, try to avoid that arrival time of ten in the morning. If you are staying in Springdale, definitely walk into the park. Consider visiting less busy portions of the park if arriving mid day (ie Kolob sections)

But yes, visitation is increasing at a staggering rate. In the past year or so there has been some type of National park birthday, and heavy advertising by the UT government. Not sure about any current promotions, but visitation might just level out this year.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
261 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

I have been there a few times and its getting incredibly crowded, so I just get on the first bus shuttle (6am, 7am ?) and start early. Very few people get there that early. I would guess October should be less trafficked as opposed to the May-Sep period.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
19,733 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

I think that 2 to 4 hour waits for the shuttle buses is over stating it. The best way to avoid lines and crowds is to get out early by getting one of the first buses in to the park. Or you stay at Zion Lodge inside the park so you can enjoy the park before and after the crowds invade.

Since you live in SLC, try to travel to Zion during the week and avoid the week of UEA.

Santa Ana, CA
Level Contributor
3,384 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

I was there four days October 10 - 13 2016 which were Monday through Thursday. I never saw long lines for shuttle in town or in the park.

The longest line was at Oscar's for dinner.

The automobiles line up on Hwy 9 from both directions.

Same advice as the others - start early in the AM.

Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
130 posts
390 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

We were there in late Sept for a week and never waited for a shuttle once. The buses were crowded at the peak times, but we never were unable to get on. And, we didn't wait more than 10-15 minutes for a table at any restaurant in Springdale. And, if there is a particular place you want, then make a reservation. We did this the day before and had no problem getting a good time for dinner. Don't miss Zion because you think it is busy. Just plan smart. Take the trails early in the morning for the most popular trails...and maybe go to some of the "off the beaten path" places. You will love this National Park!!!

Maryland
Level Contributor
1,870 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

We were there in August and never waiting more than 10 minutes for a shuttle and never had an issue with finding a seat (it was mid week though). I remember thinking that all National Parks' shuttles should run as smoothly as they do at Zion (the Grand Canyon was another story - occasional 30 minute waits but nothing crazy). I think the lot at the visitor's center can fill up but we stayed in town and never parked there (shuttles in town were great as well).

August was also a lot cooler than I expected (monsoon season kept the sun away).

Ohio
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
9,198 posts
243 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

we were there last October and on a weekend so... we stayed outside the park --hiked spots only east of the tunnel We drove up from Kanab and took us no more than half an hour to the tunnel. Not for everyone, I know. We were at the canyon overlook parking lot before it was full, (hiked that in relative quiet) headed on to a wash called "many pools" (where we saw no one) and then hiked to Observation Point via some off park, dirt road entrance place... 4 miles total with the first 3 or more thru the woods with peeks at the canyon and then a final meet up with the trail from the bottom and on out to the point. We loved it!!!! No crowds-- and no one else in sight until we actually were ON Observation Point.

Cornville, Arizona
Level Contributor
209 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

Wings, I saved your trip report for future reference! We were in Zion in early October two years ago. We had an early start each morning, but by mid-day, the crowds were pretty bad. We watched as shuttle drivers had to turn people away at many stops because the shuttles were full. I was very glad that were at the park by 8:00 each morning!

Hudson, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
1,054 posts
57 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?

I've been to Zion several times the past few years, and I always try to get to the trailheads by 7am. I hiked to the top of Observation Point at 7am last July on a Tuesday and saw no one until after I had reached the top...but obviously on the way back down it was busy.

Around 10:30am or so it starts getting really busy (if I'm coming back down a trail, for ex. Observation Point) and it stays busy until dinner time. After dinner the crowds really thin out as well.

Reply to: Is Zion getting too crowded to be enjoyable?
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions about Zion National Park