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Why Biking is the Best Way to See Zion National Park and How to Do It

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e-bike Zion National Park
E-biking is the best way to get around Zion Canyon

There’s a secret way to visit Zion National Park that makes it easier to avoid crowds and offers unparalleled freedom to explore Zion Canyon: BIKING!

Tim and I rented e-bikes on our last trip to Zion National Park and it was the perfect way to explore the park without having to rely on the shuttle. We were able to bike Zion Canyon on our own timeframe and stop at each hike and viewpoint along the way!

With miles of scenic trails and breathtaking viewpoints just waiting to be discovered, cycling through Zion offers a unique perspective that simply cannot be matched by any other mode of transportation.

I genuinely think biking is the best way to see Zion National Park, which is why I decided to write this guide on exactly how to do it. From where to rent your bike, route options, and the perfect one-day biking itinerary, this post has everything you need to know about biking Zion National Park!

Why Bike in Zion National Park

Freedom from the Shuttle Schedule

Being on your own schedule is the biggest advantage to biking Zion National Park. Because private vehicles are not allowed in Zion Canyon March through December 1, if you plan to visit the park during that window, you only have three options to see Zion Canyon. You can ride the shuttle, walk, or, bike.

Note: Private vehicles are always permitted on the Zion Scenic Byway and in Kolob Canyons. The restriction on private vehicles is ONLY in Zion Canyon. Of course, this is also where most of the places you probably want to see in Zion are.

By not having to rely on the shuttle, you avoid long lines to board and deboard, you avoid the bolus of crowds at each destination when the shuttle arrives, and you don’t have to worry about first and last shuttle times. In other words, by biking Zion National Park, you get to be entirely on your own schedule.

One last note, if you do decide to take the shuttle, you do NOT need to get a ticket in advance to ride the shuttle, per official guidelines from Zion National Park.

Fewer Crowds

Biking in Zion National Park helps you avoid the crowds simply by virtue of the fact that most people will be riding the shuttle from point to point. The most crowded time at any location is going to be right after a shuttle drops off a load of people. By riding a bike, you have the flexibility to skip crowded places and come back later, or just wait out the crowds. After all, you don’t have a bus to catch like the others do!

Biking in Zion is Safe and Easy

I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was in my early 20s, and even today I’m a bit skittish on a bicycle! Yet, even for someone like me, I felt completely safe and comfortable biking Zion National Park. Since private vehicles are not allowed, the only vehicles you will have to share the road with are the shuttle or the rare vehicle going to a lodge within the park.

Additionally, the biking routes in Zion Canyon are very straightforward and beginner-friendly (more information on these later in this post). With bike racks at every trailhead, the Zion National Park is incredibly bike-friendly!

Biking Zion is FUN

This should be obvious, but the biggest reason to bike Zion Canyon is for the fun of it! You’ll get to feel the wind on your face as you cruise through the canyon, surrounded by towering cliffs on both sides of you, completely immersed in the scenery that makes Zion a world-famous destination.

Bike Rentals near Zion National Park

Springdale, Utah is the town right outside of the Zion Canyon entrance to the park, making it an ideal place to rent a bike.

You have a number of outfitters to choose from for your bike rental, and most all are well-rated.

We’ve personally had great experiences renting gear from Zion Adventures and Zion Outfitter. (We rented e-bikes from Zion Adventures and a dry suit to hike the Narrows from Zion Outfitter). Both shops offer bicycle and e-bike rentals.

E-Bike Versus Traditional Bike

Should you rent an e-bike (electric bike) or a traditional bike?

We rented an e-bike and loved it. It was so fun to just cruise the canyon without having to exert much effort to maintain speed.

Zion Canyon is 7.5 miles each way, which means you will bike at least 15 miles if you bike up and down the canyon. Plus, Zion Canyon has a slight incline in elevation the entire way to its end at the Temple of Sinawava.

Electric Bike: If peddling 7.5 miles uphill doesn’t sound fun to you, the e-bike is the way to go. Since it has an electric motor, it does a lot of the hard work for you. However, e-bike rentals are more expensive than traditional bikes.

Traditional Bike: If you are up for more of a workout or biking on a budget, opt for a traditional bike.

Tip: You can cut your bike ride distance in half by bringing your bike onto the shuttle and riding it to the Temple of Sinawava. From there, you’ll basically follow the below itinerary backwards, biking downhill through Zion Canyon back to the park entrance. Note that only 3 bikes are allowed on a shuttle at a time, and you will need to be able to lift your bike onto the front of your shuttle.

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Cycling Route Map

Map Courtesy of the National Park Service

One Day Biking Itinerary for Zion National Park

Here’s how we recommend spending a day on the bike in Zion National Park!

First, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee to enter Zion National Park, which is $35 per vehicle. Alternatively, if you have a National Parks Pass like the America the Beautiful Pass, you can enter for free!

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Sunrise Hike on The Watchman Trail

Start your day with a sunrise hike at The Watchman. The trailhead begins right by the parking lot at the Zion National Park Visitor Center. Note that if you are renting a bike, you will want to pick it up the day prior since the shops aren’t open at sunrise time.

Park your bike at the rack, and proceed don’t other Watchman Trail!

The trail is slightly steep as it traverses up the canyon walls via gradual switchbacks. At the top of the trail, you will be awarded spectacular views over Zion Canyon, including the Watchman rock formation for which the trail is named.

The Watchman Trail

The Watchman Trail at sunrise Zion National Park
Sunrise on the Watchman Trail

Pa’rus Trail

After your sunrise hike at the Watchman, grab a quick breakfast at Soleil Cafe or one of the other shops within walking distance of the Visitor’s Center. Then, bike the paved Pa’rus Trail. This trail provides a great overview of Zion’s unique landscapes. This is the only bike path in the park

It’s an incredibly pleasant trail, very flat, and provides awesome views of the red cliffs and Virgin River! 

Pa’rus Trail

Emerald Pools Trail

The Emerald Pools trail leads to a number of waterfalls, some seasonal, at the Upper and Lower Emerald Pools.

This hike is VERY popular and as such tends to be quite crowded. Plan to arrive very early to avoid most crowds, and be considerate of your fellow hikers.

The best time to see waterfalls flowing at Zion National Park is in the spring when snow melt increases water flow. We were lucky to see three flowing during our visit.

Emerald Pools Trail

Waterfalls on the Emerald Pools Trail in Zion National Park

After your hike to Emerald Pools, make your way to Weeping Rock trailhead.

Weeping Rock Trail

The short path to Weeping Rock is one of our favorite spots in the park because you get to go behind the waterfall! Like the waterfalls at Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock has the most water in the springtime. The paved trail leading up to the waterfall is steep but short.

Weeping Rock Trail

Sarah admiring Weeping Rock waterfall at Zion National Park
Weeping Rock Trail Zion National Park

 After hiking the Weeping Rock Trail, bike to the Temple of Sinwava

Temple of Sinawava

Zion Canyon ends at the Temple of Sinawava. Park your bike and get ready for one last short hike!

The Riverside Walk Trail is a nice, mostly paved path to the start of the Narrows hike in the Virgin River.

Riverside Walk Trail

Riverside Walk Trail Zion National Park

Return to Springdale

After the Riverside Walk Trail, hop back on your bike and enjoy the downhill cruise back to the park entrance. Return your bike to the rental shop and enjoy an evening in Springdale!

Tip: We recommend getting a delicious dinner at Oscar’s Cafe and strolling the shops of downtown Springdale to cap off your day!

Safety Tips and Rules for Biking Zion Canyon

  • Always wear a helmet to protect your head in case of a fall or accident.
  • Stay visible by wearing bright clothing and using lights on your bike, especially if it’s dark.
  • Cyclists must follow all traffic signals and signs, just like cars.
  • Always let pedestrians and animals go first. They have the right of way!
  • Shuttles treat bikes like cars. They won’t pass you unless you stop and let them. Always stop for shuttles and let them pass safely.
  • You can ride your bike on all park roads and on the Pa’rus Trail. However, other park trails, off-trail routes, and the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel are off-limits to cyclists.
  • When biking on park roads and the Pa’rus Trail, cyclists should ride in a single file on the right side of the road or trail.
  • Cyclists are limited to groups of 6 bikes or less. 
  • Exercise extra caution when biking through the Canyon Junction and Weeping Rock shuttle stops. These areas have restricted visibility and narrow lanes

Where to Stay in Springdale

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