To get around the main "Canyon" section of the park in the summertime, you will have to take the Zion Shuttle service. It runs from Springdale to the Visitors Center then along the scenic drive stopping at many points along the way. The shuttle starts making trips at 5:45am. It goes all day with it's last bus leaving the temple of Sinawava at 11pm. At peak times, the shuttle runs every 6 minutes.
Out of season you can drive your own vehicle throughout the park. (we found this convenient as we had a lot of photo equipment)
The "season" starts in April and ends in October.
There are two great shuttle bus services that are free. One shuttle bus drives up and down the main road from the park gates to the far end of Springdale. The second shuttle bus drives up and down the Zion Gorge between the park gates and the end of the gorge. Both shuttle buses stop frequently at hotels, RV Parks, restaurants, points of interest, trailheads (start of footpath), etc. You can get on and off the buses as you please. The service was excellent. It should be noted that you cannot take your own vehicles into the Zion Gorge at peak periods of the year and this is when the shuttle bus is running.
The park service runs a free shuttle service along Zion Canyon Road during the months of May through October. Since this is the busy time of year, the road is closed to traffic other than the shuttle, except for those staying at Zion Lodge, who have limited access to reach the lodge. The shuttles run every 5 minutes and stop at 7 or 8 points along the way, including the Zion Museum, Court of the Patriarchs, Zion Lodge and the Temple of Sinawawa, where a one mile trail leads to the Virgin River and the Zion Narrows.
The route to Zion NP from the east passes Mt. Carmel on Utah 9 and heads through the Zion Mt Carmel tunnel. The tunnel is about a mile long and very dark. Headlights are required and there are signs warning drivers to remove their sunglasses. The tunnel is extremely narrow. Oversized vehicles cannot pass through if a car is coming in the opposite direction and must be escorted through the tunnel for a $10 fee. The Mt Carmel highway is steep and some points and has switchbacks, but the scenery is worth the drive. Its a great alternative to the drive from Hwy 15 and a good way to get to Bryce Canyon NP from Zion.
Located in the less visited northwest section of Zion, Kolob Canyons road is a short and scenic road with several viewpoints. Not only is this area far less crowded than the well known southern portion of Zion National Park, it offers more diverse scenery.
The Zion Mt Carmel Highway is the most scenic route to get to the park. The highway starts to the east of the park and drops about 2,000 feet in elevation. The road passes checkerboard mesa, stops at the canyon overlook, where there's a short trail near pine creek and then passes through the 1 mile Zion Mt Carmel tunnel before winding down into the park. Its a very scenic drive and not too bad, even though it has some switchbacks and a few tight turns.
In case you are not good by foot, do not hesitate to come to Zion National Park. It is not only the hiker who can enjoy the scenery. Even from the road you will have great views into the landscape of this beautiful and colorful area.
Have a look at my travelogue in which I collected some photos I took from the road.
The easiest way to get to Zion National Park is to fly into Las Vegas, rent a car and drive the three hours to Zion. Airfare and car rental fees are usually reasonable. Look for the deals to draw in gamblers to Las Vegas. These are the best deals.
By car the Zion National Park is to be reached best and the drive over the winding road in the East of the park offers spectacular views.
Inside the park the scenic drive connects various places of intrest, but for the best things one has to still walk a few miles along excellent guided trails. Beware of the flashflood-warning at the beginning of The Narrows. If present danger excists, do not enter the Narrows or be ready to be flushed out.
From April through October, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is accessible by shuttle bus only. You will need to park your car at the park entrance and then take the shuttle bus. The shuttles are clean-running propane buses which stop at 9 major locations in Zion Canyon. The system was created in an attempt to deal with the growing traffic. Before the shuttles were introduced the traffic was becoming worse and worse every year. In the summer there were frequent traffic jams and the noise and pollution from vehicle exhaust were unpleasant. Parking came in short supply. The shuttle system created a cleaner and quieter environment.
The shuttles only run during the busiest months of the year. The rest of the year the canyon road can be traveled in your private vehicle. The Zion Mt. Carmel Hwy (Highway 9), the main road through Zion National Park can traveled in private vehicles year-round. The shuttle is free of charge (there is an entrace fee for the Zion National Park, but nothing additional for the shuttle).
Shuttles are an inexpensive way to get to and from Zion if you are patient and have plenty of time. There are many shuttle services that operate from Las Vegas to St. George, Utah. The cost is around $40.00 - $50.00. Once in St. George you can take a taxi or another bus to Springdale. Shuttles operate from Springdale into the park every half hour or less. I never thought I would see the day where you can get to Zion and never rent a car!
Save yourself some time of trying to find a parking space in Zion. Take the shuttle instead. When you enter Zion National Park from the south, you'll first see a visitor center. Leave your car here and jump on the free hop-on, hop-off Zion shuttle bus. In the summer, the shuttle scheduel is frequent (about every 6 min), and the driver gives great narration.
We drove to Zion and left the car at the Visitor Centre car park and took the shuttle bus into the canyon. You can drive through some of the park on scenic byway 9 and we did this when we where leaving to drive up to Bryce Canyon. As we climbed higher through the park the scenery changed to the snow capped rocks you see in this photo.
There are no cars allowed in some areas and you must get on the shuttle bus
Free with your admission to the park, this is the only way to get around Zion. Too many cars in the park were causing problems for visitors so with the introduction of the shuttle bus, all personal vehicles are restricted from driving on the roads inside the park. The bus will take you to the trailheads of most of the attractions the park has to offer and they run quite regularly. The bus ride leaves from the visitors center and takes approximately 90 mintues to complete the loop back to the beggining.
When you will visit Zion National park , then you can travel with your car/rv inside the park.
But when you will inside the park, then you can take an free shuttle, and go inside the park, where you can walking.