A great first day in Zion can be as simple as enjoying a sunset and getting settled into your accommodations. Depending on the time of your arrival, you could check out the visitors center and take a drive on the scenic Highway 9.
Highway 9 highlights:
Checkerboard Mesa, the switchbacks down into Main Canyon, and if you have the time Canyon Overlook is a short one mile moderate hike that is the perfect place to enjoy the sunset. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the views outside the tunnel windows.
Many visitors of Zion National Park stay in Springdale or the growing east side of Zion National Park where Zion Ponderosa Resort for example offers an extensive selection of overnight accommodations from covered wagons and cabins all the way to large vacation rentals.
Get an early start (on warm days / peak season) and travel through Main Canyon via rented electric bikes or on the shuttle to the last stop, Temple of Sinawava.
Here you will find the Riverwalk and Narrows. Enjoy the beauty and accessibility of the one mile Riverwalk and then continue on as far up the Narrows as you wish. Where the Riverwalk ends and Narrows begins, you will be walking in the Virgin River instead of a paved trail, prepare accordingly.
The timing might be right to have some lunch.
Other great ideas for finishing a strong day in the park is hiking to the Emerald Pools or the short trip to Weeping Rock.
If you were able to get an Angels Landing permit and are ready for the adventure, there is not a better way to start your day at Zion National Park.
If the sheer edges and permit proved obstacle but you are still looking for those unforgettable views of Zion National Park a great alternative is Observation Point via the East Rim Trail. This is a great family friendly hike. It is long but if you are up for 7 miles out-and-back of doable rolling trail, Observation Point lookout is a experience you won't soon forget.
Hike Angels Landing: This challenging but rewarding hike takes you to the top of a 1,488 foot tall cliff, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding canyon. The hike is about 5 miles round trip and can take anywhere from 3-5 hours to complete, depending on your pace. This hike currently does require a permit. You can apply for a permit in advance or the night before your intended hike and you may be awarded the hike.
Explore the Zion Human History Museum: Located near the park entrance, this museum offers a glimpse into the history of the area, including the lives of the indigenous people who once lived here and the pioneers who settled in the area. For dinner, there are several restaurants in Springdale, the town just outside the park, offering a variety of cuisines. Options include American, Mexican, Italian, and more.
Go rock climbing: Zion National Park is a popular destination for rock climbing, with routes for climbers of all abilities. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced climber, you'll find plenty of challenging routes to tackle. Take a scenic drive through the park: The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway offers stunning views of the park's red rock cliffs, canyons, and mountains. Stop at the various pullouts along the way to take in the views and snap some photos. For dinner, you'll find a range of dining options in Springdale, including BBQ, pizza, and seafood.
Hike The Narrows: This iconic hike takes you through a narrow slot canyon with walls towering hundreds of feet above you. The hike can be as long or as short as you'd like, as you can turn around at any point. Just be prepared to get wet, as you'll be walking through the Virgin River for much of the hike. Go mountain biking just outside the park where there are numerous trails that are suitable for mountain biking, ranging from easy to strenuous. Rent a mountain bike or an electric bike in Springdale and explore the main canyon of Zion National Park. For dinner, try one of the local breweries or pubs in Springdale for a relaxed and casual atmosphere.
Visit the Kolob Canyons section of the park: This less-visited section of the park is located to the northwest of the main section and offers a different landscape, with towering sandstone cliffs and a more arid climate. There are several short hikes in the area, and a long hike to Kolob Arch, one of the largest freestanding arches in the world.
Go horseback riding: Several companies in the area offer guided horseback rides through the park. This is a great way to take in the beauty of the park and get some exercise at the same time. For dinner, there are several restaurants in Springdale serving regional specialties, such as southwestern and Native American-inspired dishes.
Take a guided tour: Several companies offer guided tours of the park, including Jeep tours, hiking tours, and photography tours. This is a great way to learn more about the park's history and geology and get some insider tips on the best places to visit. Go shopping in Springdale: The town of Springdale has several cute boutiques and artisan shops where you can find souvenirs, gifts, and local crafts. For dinner, there are several restaurants in Springdale serving a variety of cuisines, including American, Thai, and Japanese.