There are plenty of things that make Zion National Park unique. From the towering red rock peaks to the one-of-a-kind hiking trails to the diverse wildlife, the park is definitely something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime!
Zion’s narrow Lower Canyon is certainly one of the things that make it unique. But it also means that parking and traffic in the Lower Canyon have been a problem since the park began growing in popularity during the 1990s. To help mitigate crowds, prevent parking along roadways, and reduce traffic, the National Park Service launched the Zion Canyon Shuttle System in 2000. For more than 20 years, shuttle buses have ferried millions of visitors into Zion’s Lower Canyon.
If you’re planning a visit to Zion Wildflower Resort any time of year besides January and February, odds are that you’ll be riding the Zion Canyon Shuttle. Keep reading to learn what you need to know to ride it like a pro during your visit.
The Zion Canyon Shuttle and Springdale Shuttle System
There are actually two shuttle systems; one that operates solely in the park, and one that operates in the town of Springdale. This second shuttle system is designed to ferry guests from hotels and parking lots in the town to the entrance to Zion National Park. From there, you can pay your entrance fee and walk to the start of the Zion Canyon Shuttle line, as well as the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.
Where to Park to Ride the Shuttle
The first thing that you need to know about riding the Zion Canyon Shuttle is where to park. If you’re staying in our bungalow cabins, glamping tents, or other lodging options at Zion Wildflower Resort, you’ll have just a short, 20-minute ride to the entrance to the park. From there, you have two options for parking.
The first option is to park inside Zion National Park. While you can’t drive your vehicle into the Lower Canyon for most of the year when the shuttle buses are in operation, you can drive into the park. From there, you can either park at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, or drive into the Upper Canyon, by way of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel.
Parking at the Visitor Center is limited. On busy days, this lot may fill by late morning or early afternoon. If you’d like to park here for the day, plan to get to the park’s entrance early. This is also a great way to beat the crowds on the park’s popular trails.
If you miss out on parking in the park, there is parking available throughout Springdale. There is a fee for parking in town, but you’ll be able to ride the Springdale Shuttle for free to get to the entrance to the park. You can also use this shuttle line to explore the town of Springdale. There are plenty of places to eat, dine, and book specialty tours in Zion and the surrounding area in Springdale.
Riding the Shuttles
Both the Zion Canyon Shuttle and Springdale Shuttles are free to ride. You won’t need a permit or a reservation to ride the shuttle. You will need to pay the regular entrance fee or show your annual pass upon entering Zion National Park.
The schedules for both shuttle systems vary depending on the time of year. The days of operation also vary from year to year. Most years, the shuttles operate daily from the beginning of March through the end of November. From December through March, they still operate around the holidays but are not in operation for the rest of the season. When the shuttles are not in operation, guests can drive their personal vehicles into the Lower Canyon and park in designated parking spaces.
Both the Zion Canyon Line and Springdale Line offer 9 stops each. In the park, these stops are located at popular overlooks, trailheads, and other attractions. You can check out the shuttle stops here to plan where you’ll get on and off during your visit.
Riding the Zion Canyon Shuttle During Your Zion Wildflower Stay
Zion Wildflower Resort is located just a 20-minute drive from the South Entrance. This is the most popular entrance to Zion National Park. It’s the closest entrance to many of the park’s most famous features, including the Lower Canyon, the trailheads for Angels Landing and the Narrows, the Zion Lodge, and the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. This is also the entrance where you’ll hop aboard the Zion Canyon Shuttle.
While navigating the shuttle system can be confusing for first-time guests, it’s a great—and necessary—tool for exploring Zion during your visit.
Now that you know more about riding the Zion Canyon Shuttle, check out this article next to learn some other tips for visiting the park like a pro!