Five Survival Strategies for Visiting Zion on Holiday Weekends

A two-hour wait for the Zion Canyon shuttle bus on Labor Day weekend

Summer weekends mark peak season in Zion National Park, but Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holiday weekends bring even more crowds into this Southwestern Utah national park. Although nothing kills the natural experience like standing in a shuttle bus line for two hours, there are ways to make the most of your visit if you absolutely must come on a holiday weekend.

  • Get an early start. When we arrived at 7:30 there was plenty of parking in town, and a 10-minute wait for the Zion Canyon shuttle bus. Four hours later there was nary a parking space in sight, and the wait for the shuttle was nearly two hours.
  • Park your car and take the free Zion Canyon shuttle bus. Parking inside the park is usually full from 10-3, so finding a vacant space can prove a bit tricky during those times. Leave the driving (and the parking) to someone else, so you have more time to enjoy the park.
  • When taking the Zion Canyon shuttle go as far up canyon as you plan to go for the day, then work your way back. It’s much easier to catch a down canyon bus, as most of the up canyon ones are full. Plan your route carefully.
  • If you are staying in Springdale, then take the free Springdale shuttle to the pedestrian entrance. There’s no need to fight the traffic just to walk into the park.
  • Last but not least, consider visiting a less touristed area of the park – such as Kolob Canyons — on busy weekends. We spent a lovely morning there on Labor Day weekend, and it was pleasantly devoid of the crowds that flock to Zion Canyon.