31 Aug Why You Should Plan a Visit to Zion This Fall
Just because summer is coming to a close doesn’t mean that you’ve missed your chance to enjoy Zion. In fact, if you don’t mind the cooler temps, fall may just be the best time of year to plan a trip to the park. Keep reading to learn why.
Crowds are Finally Thinning
If you’ve ever visited Zion during the summer months, it should come as no surprise that the national park is the fourth most-visited in the country. With more than 4 million visitors making their way through the canyon each year, crowds are bound to form. When you consider that as many as 30,000 people a day visit Zion during holiday weekends like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, you can also understand why summer can be one of the worst times to visit.
When visitor numbers stretch to 20,000 or 30,000 a day, traffic causes back-ups at the park entrance, lines form at stops along the Zion Canyon and Springdale shuttles, and hikers often face lengthy waits to start popular hikes like The Narrows or Angels Landing.
Waiting to visit the park during the winter or spring will mean fewer crowds. But snowfall in the winter and then snowmelt and flooding in the spring will make some roads and trails inaccessible. Fall is the perfect alternative. Fewer crowds are descending on the park, but the weather is still fair enough for plenty of outdoor fun.
Temperatures are Dropping-But Not Too Much
Besides having no snow (at least most years!) and less flooding than during the spring, fall also promises far more favorable temperatures. While it isn’t unusual for the temperatures to reach triple digits in July and August, in September, things begin to cool off. The average daily temperature in Zion in the fall is anywhere from the low 40s to the mid 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Leaves are Changing
Zion National Park may not see the same dramatic seasonal changes as parks farther north or to the east. But it does still experience some beautiful color changes in the fall. And those changes are perhaps even more beautiful than those in national parks with deciduous forests, like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Set against a backdrop of already stunning red rock cliffs, the entire canyon comes alive in shades of red, orange, and yellow.
No matter where you go in the park, you’ll be treated to a colorful view. Rent a Slingshot for the afternoon or an entire day to explore the changing views in and around Zion. Don’t forget your camera!
Zion is Set to Celebrate It’s Centennial
This November, Zion will mark 100 years since it became a national park. Celebrations have already kicked off, with a benefit concert featuring the Utah Symphony Orchestra with special guest Sting on August 31, and the opening of a special exhibit in the Zion Human History Museum. You can still catch the exhibit through the end of the year. Titled “Keepers of Sanctuary,” the exhibit features artifacts and historic photos that highlight the park’s first century of operation. It will remain open until December 1, 2019.
There will be several other events later in the fall to celebrate this special anniversary. Next up is the Celebration of Art in Zion. This event will span several days, and will welcome a group of local and renowned artists to the park to share their work with the public. There will be silent auctions, demonstrations, and more, all of which will be free and open to the public. This event kicks off on November 6.
Following the art event is the release of a brand new introductory film for the Zion Visitor Center.
Created in conjunction with the Zion Forever Project, the film will replace an outdated introduction that has welcomed visitors for the past 20 years. The new film will celebrate how different individuals and groups interact with the park. There will be interviews with park rangers, Native Americans, tourists, and more, each of whom will talk about how they enjoy the park, what it means to them, and what they are doing to protect it. The film will debut at Dixie State University’s Cox Auditorium on November 19. After that the film will be on display at the Visitor Center and just like the previous one, free to view.
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Reopens to Public Traffic
One of the most exciting parts of visiting Zion in the fall is the reopening of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to public traffic. From April through the end of October, the Zion Canyon Shuttle operates. This shuttle transports visitors through the canyon, stopping at various points along the way. While the shuttle is in operation, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, the main drag through the park that provides access to the most popular areas, overlooks, and trails, is closed to public traffic.
While the shuttle is a great resource for cutting down on traffic in the park, reducing parking woes, and helping to lessen the impact that summer crowds have on the natural environment within the park, driving through the canyon is a stunning experience.
If you’re lucky enough to visit in late fall, be sure to rent a Slingshot and take a cruise along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive for an experience you won’t soon forget–and one you can’t enjoy many other times of the year!