GETTING IN: For motorists, a seven-day permit costs $25 per vehicle. Be warned that vehicle access is severely limited much of the year. Permits for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycle riders cost $12 a person. Annual passes, good at Zion only, cost $50.
If you're planning to visit several national parks in the next year, an America the Beautiful annual pass costs $80 and permits access to national parks and other federal recreation areas. Call 888-ASK-USGS or see store.usgs.gov/pass.A lifetime senior pass for citizens or permanent residents 62 and older costs $10. Lifetime passes for permanently disabled Americans are free.
GETTING AROUND: Private vehicles are not allowed along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive from April 1 through Oct. 28, and parking is limited at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.Your best bet is to park in Springdale and ride a free shuttle. Buses stop at several points in Springdale and travel as far into the park as the Temple of Sinawava, at the north end of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The park's most popular features can be accessed by shuttle. Buses travel late into the evening and stop every few minutes most of the day.
WHERE TO STAY: Several campgrounds are available inside the park, but some close in winter. Watchman Campground, near the visitor center, is open all year. Campsites cost $16 a night, $18 with electric hookups, $20 for river sites. From Oct. 28 through late March, the campground is first-come, first-served. Otherwise reservations are available up to six months in advance.
South Campground reopens in March on a first-come, first-served basis for $16 a night. Group sites are available April-October by reservation for $3 a person per night. For all sites, call 877-444-6777 or see recreation.gov.
Also inside the park, historic Zion Lodge has 40 cabins, 75 motel rooms, six suites and four handicap-accessible rooms. Rates this summer ran from about $150, but lower rates are often available from December through March. The lodge recommends summer reservations six months or more in advance. Don't hesitate to keep checking. Reservations are sometimes canceled, even at the last minute (435-772-7700, zionlodge.com).Springdale, which stretches along Utah 9 on the park's south side, has many chain motel rooms. About half a mile from the park entrance, the Quality Inn at Zion Park, 479 Zion Park Blvd., offers 42 rooms from about $60 to $80 this winter (435-772-3237 or qualityinn.com). The motel is attached to an RV park.
WHERE TO EAT: Dining options inside the park are limited. Snacks are available at the Zion Lodge, as well as a dining room featuring dinner entrees such as Pasta Zion, a vegetarian dish for $13.95; chipotle tilapia, with rice and seasonal vegetables, $16.25; and breaded Navajo eggplant cutlets, with Spanish rice and seasonal vegetables, $14.50 (435-772-7700, zionlodge.com).
Bumbleberry Restaurant, part of the Bumbleberry Resort at 897 Zion Park Blvd., offers entrees such as Hawaiian BBQ chicken, $10.99; flat-iron steak, $17.99; and Utah trout, $13.99. The restaurant's signature dessert is Bumbleberry pie, $2.99 (435-772-3224).The Whiptail Grill, 445 Zion Park Blvd. Entrees include carne asada, marinated strips of beef with corn tortillas, $11.99; Southwestern chicken wrap, $8.99; Mexican pizza, $10.99; steak, chicken, shrimp or tofu burrito, $10.99 (435-772-0283).
TO LEARN MORE: Contact Zion National Park at nps.gov/zion or 435-772-3256.
E-mail: [email protected]