Just back from a trip to Utah and Zion, here's some handy info for people planning a trip.
All visitors to zion must have a park pass ($35usd per car for 7 days or yearly pass $80usd per car.)
All “technical” (ropework required) canyons inside Zion NP require permits (as well as most overnight hikes and the more popular full day hikes). Price of the permit depends on your group size.
$15.00 - 1-2 people
$20.00 - 3-7 people
$25.00 - 8-12 people
If you know which canyons and how many in your party early enough, you can just book. If all the bookings are taken up, there is a last minute lottery. These can be entered a few days before for $5 non refundable fee. It is drawn 12pm local time 2 days before (eg. Applying for the 14th, it's drawn 12pm on the 12th). All permits must be picked up in person no more than the day before from the wilderness desk (7am – 7pm) at the visitor centre (8am-7pm summer, wifi, toilets, free potable water) but can also be picked up the day of. A ranger will ask you a host of questions about your experience and contingencies, you'll sign your life away and pick up your parking pass (if needed). We've been advised that they are under orders to issue you a permit regardless of your answers, but will just try to delay you if you don't have adequare answers. Permits must be carried through the canyon and showed to rangers when asked, otherwise you'll be fined. It takes a bit of finesse to figure out the canyons you want to do and how to get all the permits and still leave enough time to get through the canyons with daylight left.
Permits can be booked online at:
Last minute lottery:
Parking at the visitor centre and getting the shuttle is the easiest way to get around (for the most part), provided you aren't going there on busy holidays. There is limited parking at each of the area's that won't get you a citation (up to $300usd, very excitable parking rangers). Some canyons require a car shuffle so try to organise that with other canyoners. There are private shuttle companies that will take you or drop you back at your cars but are very expensive.
Campgrounds available inside the park cost money but have facilities. Buereau of Land Management grounds can be camped on for free, as long as you're responsible. Kolab BLM Campground is on Google Maps, turn onto Kolob Terrace Rd and follow for 1.1miles, on your right hand side (can get quite busy and hard to find quiet spots). Lava Point campground (if you're doing things near the West Rim trailhead or Kolob Creek Canyon area is nice, beautiful lookout for sunrise 5min walk away and toilets. It doesn't have potable water though and is limited to 6 camp sites (we were lucky).
There is 2 supermarkets in town (1 very small one next to the park entrance and Sol Supermarket towards the south end of town) and they're terribly expensive. We purchased a few days of food at Wal-Mart on the drive from Vegas or at the Davis food and drug in La Verkin (15 miles away). George Barker River Park is a nice park to cook dinner just south of town with river access for swimming, and a bathroom (don't camp here, sprinklers come on each night to keep the place green).
A few gear shops around Springdale (right next to the park). Zion adventure company and Zion Outdoor (on the main street) was very helpful with advice and gear.
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