Updated on August 17, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
It can be hard to know how to pack for your visit, especially if you’re not familiar with a desert climate, so we’ve put together this helpful Zion packing list which also includes what to wear in Zion, what NOT to pack, and answers to your biggest Zion NP FAQs.
What to Pack for Zion National Park – 17 Essentials
Keeping your suitcase organized is the last thing you want to have to think about when travelling. These handy HERO packing cubes make it so you don’t have to. This set comes with a variety of sizes, including a couple of laundry bags and even has index cards for you to write the contents so you can keep everything straight!
With no shortage of sunlight in Zion, this is the perfect place to use a solar charger for your devices. After this charger is fully loaded, it can handle multiple charges of a phone and more than one charge of an iPad. Plus it comes with 3 USB cords to charge several devices simultaneously, as well as having a built-in LED flashlight.
3. Neck Wallet
Keep your valuables safe while you hike your way around Zion. With its RFID lining, this neck wallet is perfect for cash, credit cards, passports, hotel and car keys, even your phone! Made from sturdy ripstop fabric, it’s easy to tuck inside your shirt, keeping everything close. And with its lifetime guarantee, if you ever have trouble with it, you can have it replaced.
If Zion is over 100 miles from home for you, World Nomads Travel Insurance is a great investment for your trip. It protects you from flight cancellations, medical emergencies, lost or stolen luggage, and a variety of other things to give you peace of mind before, during, and after your trip.
You definitely want a good reusable water bottle for your trip to Zion. As we all know, hydration is super important when you’re out hiking under the hot sun. This LifeStraw water bottle comes with a built in filter to ensure the water you’re drinking is fresh and clean. Not to mention that having a reusable water bottle is a great way to protect the environment and save yourself money spent on single-use bottles!
Small, portable chargers can be invaluable when you’re out on a trail. Chargers like this one are easy to reload overnight and will prevent you from the unpleasant surprise of having your phone die. This is especially important if you’re using the phone either for gps or as your main camera. It uses a standard USB cable to attach to your device and holds at least one charge before needing to be recharged itself.
Many of the hiking trails in and around Zion NP are pretty remote. If an accident occurs or if you completely lose your bearings, this little gem is like having a Boy Scout tucked inside your backpack. It comes with fire starter, compass, loud emergency whistle, knife and 12 feet of military-grade paracord.
A universal waterproof phone case like this one is a great way to be sure your smartphone is protected from the elements during your trip to Zion. Whether it’s swimming, hiking in The Narrows, or you get caught in a surprise rainstorm, this case will keep your phone safe.
Hiking sticks are an easy item to forget. But with a number of hikes rated ‘strenuous’ and having significant elevation change, you’ll be grateful you packed these. This set is strong but lightweight aluminum that will easily fit into your daypack without adding much bulk.
As we all find our way forward following covid-19, this gaiter will not only keep your neck and face protected from wind, sun and dust, it also easily doubles as a face mask when needed. These also smush into the smallest corner of a backpack, no you’ll never need to be without it!
Sunscreen is a must in Zion! Even if you visit in March (traditionally the rainiest month of the year), there will doubtless be sunshine at various times of the day and with elevations ranging from about 3000-9000 feet, the sun can be intense. As always with sunscreen, you’ll want to be sure to reapply it every few hours, especially if you’re sweating a lot.
12. Wool Socks
Quick-dry pants are so much more comfortable if there’s any chance of getting wet while you’re hiking! These are great options with both women’s and men’s having zippered pockets to ensure you don’t accidentally leave anything behind in the creekbed.
Even if you visit Zion NP during the hottest summer months, the evenings can still get chilly, so you’ll be glad you have a fleece on hand to help keep you cozy while munching on s’mores under the starlight.
This is a handy little alternative to a bulky cotton towel if you’re camping in Zion. Even if you opt for a hotel, these quick-dry towels are great on hikes to dry off after splashing through a creekbed or to rinse off your hot, dusty face. And with the handy loop, you can hang it from your backpack with a carabiner to dry while you keep going.
Daypacks are invaluable on visits to Zion, as you’ll want hands free but still need to have sunscreen, water, snacks, hat, quick-dry towel, phone, etc while you hike. This pack is compact and lightweight, while still having plenty of pockets and exterior loops to attach things you want readily available.
There’s nothing like sleeping under the stars! With this easy set-up tent, you get all the benefits of sleeping outside, without actually being in the elements all night. This one is available in sizes ranging from 2-person to 6-person, so invite your friends.
Other Zion National Park packing list items not to forget
Bug repellent bracelets spray
Camera and all extra equipment
Waterproof camera housing
Lotion aloe vera or other skin soothers
Travel size 1st aid kit
Camelbak hydration pack
Facial cleanser wipes
What to Wear in Zion National Park
Temperatures vary significantly throughout the year, but even in winter daytime temps are surprisingly mild and comfortable. Unless you’re camping in winter, you may not need a terribly heavy coat, but will probably still want a lightweight beanie and maybe gloves. For summer visits to Zion, make sure you have your swimsuit and some shorts as temps regularly cross the century mark!
Winter – December, January, February
Average winter temps in Zion range from a balmy 50s during the day, dropping into the 20s overnight. As we mentioned, while it can snow in Zion, it rarely lasts for long. Unless you’re planning a number of hikes with large elevation changes, chances are good you’ll be comfortable with lighter weight winter clothing. Good options to include are long pants, base layer, hat, fleece, heavy jacket, short or long sleeve shirts depending on your cold tolerance and hiking shoes or boots.
Spring – March, April
Spring is beautiful and mild in Zion. Temperatures generally are in the 30s overnight and up into the 70s during the day. March is usually the rainiest month in Zion, so be prepared for that if you plan to visit then. Some good clothing options for spring are shorts or pants depending on your chill tolerance, lightweight waterproof jacket, fleece vest, short or long sleeve shirts, hiking shoes, boots or sandals.
Summer – May, June, July, August, September
Summer is the most popular time to visit Zion, so in addition to great hot weather, be prepared for lots of fellow visitors. Summer temps during the day commonly reach into the 100s while overnight it will often dip into the 50s. Lightweight and comfortable are best for summer months including shorts, short sleeve shirts or tank tops, lightweight jacket (for nighttime), hiking boots, shoes or sandals, sunhat.
Fall – October, November
Fall is relatively short in Zion but it can be a great time to go if you’d rather miss the crowds of summer. Temperatures will range from the 30s to the 70s, so you can plan your wardrobe for this time much as you would for a March or April trip.
What NOT to bring to Zion National Park
3) DON’T TAKE Lots of electronics: While you definitely want some items (phone and kindle being great examples), don’t over-pack with lots of devices. The risk of them getting dust inside, or dropping them into water isn’t worth it.
5) DON’T TAKE Rentable gear: Many of the items you might need for hiking, biking or climbing can be rented in nearby Springdale.
7) DON’T TAKE Impractical/uncomfortable shoes: While we would never recommend not having some fun little sandals on a trip, your feet will be much happier with you if those cute shoes are also comfortable to wear! Without a doubt you’ll be doing a lot of walking in Zion, so keeping your paws comfy in the down-time will keep you much happier!
4) DON’T TAKE Jewelry or other valuables: These will only cause you worry and stress .. especially if you’re staying in a campground. If you plan to have a nice night or two out on your trip, take maybe one piece of jewelry, but don’t make it your heirloom necklace from great-grandma.
6) DON’T TAKE Regular bath towels: This great quick-dry towel will not only save you weight in your luggage, but drying time as well, compared to a regular cotton towel.
FAQs about Zion National Park
1. When is the best time to visit?
This depends largely on your interests as well as your heat tolerance. Summer is super popular as it’s when you can be most sure that all the hiking trails will be open and as a result, it can be very crowded. At least before Covid-19, the park had stopped allowing private cars into the park during much of the year and required all visitors to take the free, easily accessible shuttles to various points of interest. Many locals swear by venturing into the park during the fall months when crowds have waned and the weather is a bit cooler.
2. Are there things to do outside the park?
Definitely! Springdale is the town immediately outside of Zion. It has some great restaurants and fun shopping where you can find everything from native American crafts to art to decadent chocolates. There are also several festivals at different points in the year. The Zion Park website has a good summary of these. If you’re ready to confront some ghosts, you can also visit nearby Grafton and probably have the place to yourselves. There are also Jeep, ATV and helicopter excursions, river tubing, canyoneering, and rock-climbing adventures, and a couple of amphitheaters tucked into the rock cliffs.
3. When is Zion open?
Before Covid-19, Zion NP was open 24/7/365. Like so many other venues it has been closed in 2020 for health and safety reasons, so do your research before booking tickets for your trip. Hopefully, it will be back up to speed (maybe at reduced capacities?) by the time you’re reading this!
4. What are the best hikes?
There are so many great hikes in Zion that it would be impossible to name them all! Here are some of the favorites. Angel’s Landing .. a strenuous 5.4 miles up and back, you’ll want to start early, but the views from the top are magnificent! Upper Emerald Pools is a moderate hike of about 3 miles up and back with some delightful, though small, waterfalls (pro tip: spring and fall are the best times to catch the falls). Canyon Overlook is a short hike .. only about 1 mile .. but has some pretty steep climbs, so it’s still considered a moderate trek. During the day Canyon Overlook has some great views down into some of the slot canyons (more on those in a minute) and it’s also a great night hike if you want some stunning views of the stars! (Just don’t forget your flashlight or headlamp.) The Narrows hike is the piéce de la resistance of Zion! It’s a tough hike as most of it is through water but you can decide how far up into the slot canyon you want to go, so it can be anywhere from a couple of miles to 9.5 miles round trip, depending on how much time and effort you want to give it. Just know that the further you go, the more amazing it gets! Do your research on this one though. If the water is running too high, park staff will close this hike as there is no way to get clear of a flash flood if one were to come tearing down through the slots.
5. Where can I stay?
You have tons of options both in and around Zion for overnight. Within the park, camping is your only option at one of three campgrounds. There are also many campgrounds outside the park if it’s booked up. Also, there are plenty of great hotels, inns, resorts, and cozy little bed and breakfasts in Springdale and nearby Rockville .. many of which have a stop for the previously mentioned shuttles into the park. You can also opt for vacation rentals, such as Airbnb, or RV campgrounds if that’s your thing.