A visit to Zion National Park during its off-season affords the chance to experience a classic national park under its best conditions. And free of crowds. Its majestic beauty is illuminated under dramatic autumn skies, and countless hidden canyons and passages are yours to explore alone.
Zion National Park lies in southwestern Utah, about 150 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Autumn is a good time to explore here, with daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Weather can be a factor, especially at higher elevations (the park ranges from 3,600 to 8,700 feet), where snow and ice can block trails; check conditions before you set out.
Park entry is $25 per vehicle. For more information, contact nps.gov/zion or 435/772-3256.
WHAT TO DO
Angels Landing/West Rim. A steep climb leads to prime Zion views at Scout Lookout. The precipitous side climb to Angels Landing should not be attempted if there's snow and ice, but if conditions allow, you can continue up the West Rim Trail and into the high country. 5 miles round-trip to Angels Landing; trailhead at the Grotto Picnic Area.
Temple of Sinawava/Riverside Walk. An easy 2-mile round-trip; from the temple's amphitheater, the trail explores the canyon narrows. Trailhead at north end of Zion Canyon Scenic Dr. where the Virgin River enters the canyon.
The Zion Canyon Field Institute conducts a variety of one-day and multiday workshops covering subjects such as photography and geology. zionpark.org or 800/635-3959.
WHERE TO EAT
The Bit and Spur Restaurant and Saloon. Creative American and Mexican dishes at a Springdale institution. $$; 1212 Zion Park Blvd.; 435/772-3498.
Zion Pizza & Noodle Co. The name almost says it all: pizzas, pasta, and microbrews. $$; 868 Zion Park Blvd.; 435/772-3815.
WHERE TO STAY
Desert Pearl Inn. Stylish rooms, with balconies and patios overlooking the river, blend modern and Southwestern elements. From $98; desertpearl.com or 435/ 772-8888.
Under the Eaves Inn. A range of room choices, including the huge Eaves Suite, in a classic Springdale house. From $75; undertheeaves.com or 435/772-3457.
Zion Lodge. Cabins with fireplaces and lodge rooms in the heart of the park. From $159; zionlodge.com or 888/297-2757.