Ride Zion National Park – A Unique Way to See a Classic Park

Zion National Park

Entrance to Zion National Park from Highway 89

Zion is one of the country’s iconic National Parks that attracts visitors from all around the world.  Many view its steep walls and beautiful Mesas from an automobile or from the parks shuttles.  To really take in all of Zions beauty, consider viewing the park by bike.  Riding through Zions is a fairly easy ride that most people can manage, but will not soon forget.  You will experience the beauty of the park in a way that is hard to beat.

2 Rides 2 Beautiful Landscapes

The one place you can’t ride a bike in Zions is through the tunnel that is one of the longest tunnels in the country.  For this reason I usually describe Zion as having two seperate rides, one that gives you a view of the upper portion of the park and will eventually take you out to Highway 89 and the other that goes along the lower canyon from the visitor center to the Temple of Sinawa, where the Zion narrows trail ends.

Upper Zions

Zion National Park, Utah

View just above the Tunnel in Zion National Park

Just beyond the tunnel there are a few parking lots and turnoffs where you can drop your car and hop on your bike.  This ride is slightly up hill, but isn’t difficult and makes for a leisurley descent back down to your car.  There are some great views of the desert landscapes that make up the “top” of Zion that you won’t experience on the lower ride.

Checkerboard Mesa is a sure stop as you ride a long and provides some great photo opportunities.  From the tunnel to the park boundary is only about 7 miles, but you can

Checkerboard Mesa in Zion National Park

Checkerboard Mesa in Zions National Park

keep riding out of the park toward highway 89 for as far as you feel like going.  The great views don’t stop at the park boundary.

Lower ride

What I call the lower ride in Zion can start from Springdale or the visitor center in the park and goes along the canyon road to the Temple of Sinawa.  From the visitor center to the junction where you turn to go to the tunnel or down the canyon to the temple of Sinawa, you can ride on that is called the river trail.

This is a paved trail and allows the casual cyclist to enjoy some great views and the cool breeze coming off the Virgin river without having to worry about cars.  However pedestrians also share this trail so you need to ride a little slower and be a little more cognizant of pedestrians.

Temple of Sinawa, Zion National Park, Utah

Parking lot of the Temple of Sinawa

From the junction to the Temple of Sinawa there are no cars allowed on the r0ad from about April until October.  The only traffic to contend with is the occasional shuttle that come about every 10-15 minutes depending on time of day.

The shuttles will never pass a cyclist on the road, so the courteous thing to do is pull to the side of the road and stop to allow the shuttle to pass you.  The shuttles don’t move very fast, so if you are a pretty quick road biker you probably won’t need to worry being passed by too many shuttles.

This ride is also slightly up hill, so it makes the trip from the Temple of Sinawa back to the visitor center an easy one.  Various pull outs exist along this section of road and its worth getting off your bike to take in the view.  Stopping at big bend to see the great throne is a must!

This lower ride takes you between the great tall walls that begin to narrow down until

The Great White Throne, Zion National Park, Utah

Great white throne seen from the big bend pull out

eventually they become the Zion narrows.  Big wall climbers can often be spotted as they scale the big walls of Zions making the scenery that much more exciting.

Both rides can be done between 1-2 hours each depending on your riding speed.  They are some of the most scenic road rides I think you will find in southern Utah.  If you have any questions about riding Zion National Park or any other questions about Utah for that matter, send me an email at DustinACook@gmail.com or comment down below.  Don’t forget to go outside and have some fun!

About Dustin

Healthcare professional by day, Outdoor adventurer on the evenings and weekends.
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4 Responses to Ride Zion National Park – A Unique Way to See a Classic Park

  1. Pablo says:

    Hello Dustin,

    I’m heading to Zion in January and I am debating whether or not to take my road bike. What are the conditions like in January? Am I expecting icy roads? What would you recommend?

    Thanks,

    Pablo

    • Dustin says:

      You can usually still road bike in January in Zion, unless you get some really abnormal weather. I usually go in the afternoon and avoid any big shady spots where some black ice might be hiding. I would say bring the bike and wear some cold weather gear and enjoy the ride!

  2. M. Mehta says:

    Dustin, we are a group 8 planning a trip to Zion in second week of June. We will ride the bus from the visitor center. We plan to hike thr Narrows. What would be a good way to start – ride the bus to the temple and hike the narrows and on way back stop at other sights or the other way round. Should we do the Narrows in am or pm. They say water temperature is 42. Should we rent wet pants? Thx.

    • Dustin says:

      You can do it either way as the shuttle stops at all the locations on the way their and the way back. The narrows never get much sun, so the only difference going AM of PM will be the air temperature – air temperature will be much warmer in the PM than the AM. Many people get thermal leg warmers because the water is quite cold, but others will go without. Most people who want to hike all the narrows will start from either the Virgin Trail head or hike through Orderville Canyon, but both of these require permits. However many people will walk a mile or two up the Temple of Sinawava to experience the Narrows and it is worth the trip. Enjoy!

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