Saturday, November 17, 2018

Zion National Park


   Our last visit to Zion, almost 5 years ago, was very short because we did not have campground reservations so we had to drive straight through. This time was different. :-)  I really recommend visiting the park in November. The crowds are gone, fall leaves glow  in the sunshine, and sites are available in South Campground. There are two campgrounds in Zion – South and Watchman. Reservation can be made at Watchman 6 months in advance while at South reservations can be made only two weeks in advance –  nice for all us non-planners. During the winter season from late November to March all campsites are first come/first serve.

  The park has three paved roads - Zion- Mount Carmel Highway travels west/east, Zion Canyon Drive travels north and dead ends at the start of the Narrows Trail, and Kolob Canyon Road, accessed from I-15, is a 5 mile dead end in the northern section of the park.


   Zion- Mount Carmel Highway has a narrow tunnel and all oversized vehicles must get a pass which can be purchased at the entrance stations. Traffic is blocked so that the tunnel become one way and the driving route is down the middle of the road.


   Zion Canyon Drive is closed to personal vehicles until after the Thanksgiving weekend. Visitors with severe medical conditions that require special equipment may use their personal vehicles. Free, accessible shuttle buses run continuously. I usually don’t like shuttles because of the long delays caused by the wheelchair lifts and safety straps but the park employees are fast and efficient.

IMG_5147        IMG_5182

  Kolob Canyon Road is closed for road construction work. I’m not sure if RVs are permitted on it.

  Most of the trails are steep and narrow. Two are considered accessible. Pa’rus is 3.5 miles round trip and paved. It travels along the river and is very scenic. It goes south to the visitor center and north to the start of Zion Canyon Drive. Wheelchair users may need assistance due to a few hills. Pa’rus Trail can be accessed across from site 83 in South campground. Riverside Walk goes to the start of the Narrows Trail. The last section is very steep and sand covers the pavement so can be slippery. The entire trail can be accessed with a strong helper. Lower Emerald Pool is paved but not designated as accessible. It has steep sections and drop offs but it can be done with a strong helper.

IMG_5124IMG_5169         IMG_5186IMG_5190

  The visitor center (no exhibits) is accessible. The History Museum is accessible.


   Watchman Campground has two accessible sites.  South campground has three sites that are designated as wheelchair accessible but really they are just large and fairly flat. The ground is rocky making rolling difficult. The restrooms are close but they are not accessible. The gorgeous view makes up for a lot!


  RV parking at trailheads and pull offs is very limited so it’s best to park in the RV lot  at the visitor center or stay at the campground and take the shuttle buses. The parking lot at the museum fills but small RVs will fit in the accessible spots. The tunnel limits are 13’1” in height and 50’ in length. Zion  37.19874, -112.98764



  1. First time I visited Zion was in November, early 1980's, alone. Working as a manager of a restaurant, I tried to take a week off during Thanksgiving week due to how slow it I took off on a Saturday, visited Vegas, Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon, getting back to Sacramento for Thanksgiving with family. I slept in the back of a pickup with a camper shell. You are right, no crowds, and I fell in love with it all...been back at least six times since then.

    1. That sounds like a great trip!

      We first visited Zion in 1976 and had no problem getting a campsite in the middle of summer. Times have changed

  2. I've never seen a tunnel with length limits... It sounds like you hit the right time for that park!

    1. The tunnels has a lot of curves. It must be too tight for really long vehicles.