Above: An empty road for cycling at Zion National Park in Utah

Beat the Crowds: Zion National Park

Zion National Park in southwest Utah is one of the most scenic and visited national parks in the country. Travelers hoping to ride the park shuttle buses during peak hours (weekends and summer) should be prepared for a long wait. The line we encountered snaked across half of the large main parking lot. Fortunately, there are still ways to escape the crowds and enjoy the beauty of the canyon landscapes in relative solitude.

Visitors waiting to board shuttle buses at Zion National Park - Photo by Hideaway Report editor


The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is one of the most beautiful drives in the western United States. Ironically, except in winter, cars are not allowed to drive it into Zion Canyon. Most visitors rely on park buses to ferry them among the popular trails. Bicycles, however, are allowed on the entire length of the park road up to the head of the canyon at the Temple of Sinawava, a rock amphitheater streaked with waterfalls. Cycling is undoubtedly the best way to see Zion if you are prepared for a little exercise.

Biking in the park - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

My partner and I rented hybrid-style bicycles from Zion Cycles in Springdale, near the park entrance. On a spring Saturday at 9 a.m., the town was surprisingly subdued. We flashed our annual park pass to the rangers and stopped to review the park map. The ride to the head of the canyon is 8 miles up a mellow incline that merits a middle gear most of the way. While riding, we were able to relax and enjoy the sound of songbirds and the sight of steep cliffs gliding by. Except for shuttle buses that passed every 10 minutes, we hardly saw another tourist.

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