Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive begins off of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway. From March through October, this road is closed to private vehicles. Instead, visitors must ride the superbly set up Zion Canyon Shuttle System. These propane powered vehicles run as often as 6 minutes apart during the busy season, and eliminate the noise, pollution, and crowding at the parking areas. When you see the road, and how small the parking areas are, you’ll be very glad for the shuttle. There is one exception to this rule: those staying at Zion Lodge are allowed to drive their vehicle as far as the lodge. Since nearly everyone who visits will use the shuttle, rather than log the road by mile, we go by shuttle stop number.
Shuttle Stop #3 – Canyon Junction
Immediately after the drive begins is the stop for Canyon Junction. The Pa’rus Trail begins or ends here, leading back to the visitor center. The first two shuttle stops are actually on the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway.
Shuttle Stop #4 – Court of the Patriarchs
The first scenic stop is for the Court of the Patriarchs, a group of three peaks named Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint Trail, which is actually just a short, but steep, walk, leads up from the shuttle stop. It provides a good view of not only the Court of the Patriarchs, but both up and down the canyon. See Zion Hiking for more information.
Shuttle Stop #5 – Zion Lodge
The next stop is Zion Lodge. Along with lodging, there are dining options and a gift shop. See Zion Lodging for more details. Horse riding is available across the street. A short walking trail leads to the Grotto, a picnic area and the next shuttle stop. Near the horse stables is the beginning of the Emerald Pools Trail. This very popular trail leads up to a series of pools, often with waterfalls running between them. For more on this, see Zion Hiking. No private vehicles of any sort are allowed beyond the lodge.
Shuttle Stop #6 – The Grotto & Angel’s Landing
The next stop is the Grotto, a picnic area. More importantly, this is the stop for the Scout Lookout & Angel’s Landing Trail. This is a popular, but very strenuous hike to the top of Angel’s Landing. More information on this hike can be found at Zion Hiking.
Shuttle Stop #7 – Weeping Rock
The next stop is Weeping Rock, an area of the canyon wall where a seeps shower an area of hanging gardens. A short walk on the Weeping Rock Trail takes you under the overhang. See Zion Hiking for more on the trail.
Shuttle Stop #8 – Big Bend
The next stop is Big Bend. There are no trails here, but it is a very popular photo spot. The Virgin River, and the canyon, turn sharply here, creating a dramatic scene.
Shuttle Stop #9 – Temple of Sinawava
The last stop is the Temple of Sinawava. This is by far the most popular spot in Zion, for good reason. The Riverside Walk departs from the shuttle stop and follows along the Virgin River as the canyon walls get closer and closer. After a mile, this trail ends and the Narrows to Orderville Canyon journey begins. This is the dayhike version of the Zion Narrows, one of the most famous hiking routes in the United States. For more on both of these hikes, see Zion Hiking.