Utah’s first national park, Zion, is a picturesque landscape to behold. With its towering red cliffs, iconic Narrows hike, and lush waterfalls, this park is a dreamscape for all those who visit.

As expert guides and trip planners in 26 of the U.S. National Parks, we help thousands of people explore the national parks each year!

So, we bring you the best one day itinerary to follow if you only have one day to explore Zion National Park! This carefully curated itinerary will help you make the best of the park, hitting the most iconic sights in the most efficient way.

South Entrance

Starting from the park’s south entrance, near Springdale, Utah, we recommend starting early to beat the crowds — and the summertime heat!

In peak season, you are required to ride the shuttle in order to access the scenic drive, and most of the hikes, throughout the park. This road is closed to private vehicles when the shuttles are in operation.

The NPS introduced this shuttle system back in 2000 to reduce traffic and parking problems, protect vegetation, and restore tranquility to Zion Canyon

There is no reservation required to ride this free shuttle, and the ride takes about 45 minutes to drive between the first and last stop. You can find more information about the shuttle system and schedule here.

We recommend hopping on the first shuttle at 6 a.m. for a relaxing morning ride to get your day started in the park.

One Day Itinerary for Zion National Park

Riverside Walk

Start your day by riding the shuttle all the way to the end, getting off at the Temple of Sinawava (Stop #9). This ride will take about 45 minutes, as you explore deep into Zion Canyon.

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along the road, and listen to the educational recording on the shuttle, as you learn more about your surroundings.

Once at your stop, hike along the 2 mile, flat and paved, Riverside Walk trail. This hike may take 1-2 hours.

Along the trail, revel in lush hanging gardens and trees surrounded by tall weeping walls. This hike is a great warm up, and wheelchair accessible, as well as a great option for young kids or older folks!

When the Narrows hike is open, this trail also takes you to to the start of this iconic hike. At the time that this post is being written, the Narrows are not open. 

However, when the river is open for exploration, we highly recommend walking a mile or two through these stunning waters of the Virgin River.

Be sure to come prepared with proper equipment and make sure to check the weather, and trail status, for any closures. 

One Day Itinerary for Zion National Park - Riverside Walk

Weeping Rock

After a refreshing hike, jump back on the shuttle for a short ride to Stop #7, Weeping Rock. The shuttle will bring you right to this trail’s entrance.

This is a quarter-mile hike, which is mostly paved, and will bring you to picturesque lush hanging gardens and stunning views.

Because the Navajo Sandstone layer is porous like a sponge, the alcove looks as though it’s crying, or “weeping,” as water continuously seeps from its walls. 

Take in the views of Angels Landing, the Great White Throne, Big Bend, and Cable Mountain from this spot.

One Day Itinerary for Zion National Park - Weeping Rock

Emerald Pools

Next, stop for a picnic lunch in the grass outside the Zion Lodge at Stop #5!

After lunch, continue on another epic hike to Emerald Pools 1, 2, and 3. Enjoy refreshing waterfalls, hidden alcoves, and natural pools, which are essential sources of life for wild animals in the park.

The full hike to the upper pool is about 2 miles. Pool 3 is our personal favorite, and well worth the extra mileage. However, the views at the lower pool will certainly not disappoint!

One Day Itinerary for Zion National Park - Emerald Pools

Zion’s East Side

After a long day of hiking in the summertime sun, we recommend taking the shuttle back to your vehicle at the visitor center.

Then, make the stunning drive east via State Route 9, a scenic highway through the park.

Drive through the famous Zion Tunnel, and keep a close eye out for big horn sheep that like to hang out up here!

Take in the panoramic views of the tall, red rock cliffs and jaw-dropping valley before turning around at Checkerboard Mesa. 

One Day Itinerary for Zion National Park

Canyon Overlook

End your unforgettable day in Zion with a bang! Take a short, 1-mile hike to Canyon Overlook.

If you can time it with sunset, you will not be disappointed — but we promise, the views are beautiful, regardless the time of day!)

One Day Itinerary for Zion National Park

Need additional help planning your next national parks adventure?

Go with a local Good Trip Adventures guide for the full, immersive experience! We’ll handle all the planning and logistics so you can have a good trip. 

We offer a variety of educational hiking and sightseeing tours in Zion, including small group day tours, multi-day canyoneering and hiking adventures, and fully customizable private trips to maximize your experience.

We also offer itinerary consultations to give you itinerary feedback and insider tips and recommendations from our expert vacation planners.