What To Pack For Zion National Park (Ultimate List)

If you’re wondering what to pack for Zion National Park, you’ve come to the right place!  Kendall and I have visited Zion numerous times and during different seasons and weather conditions.  

Over the years, we’ve whittled our list down to something that includes all the basics while still being lightweight and easy to put together.  

The Importance of Extra Layers

One of the most important things we’ve found regarding clothing is to bring layers, even if it means adding a little bit of bulk to your day pack. While we always try to check the weather forecast before heading out, things can always change quickly.  

Zion, in particular, can have bigger temperature differences than other national parks.  For example, the top of Angel’s Landing or inside the Narrows slot canyon can get chilly even if the rest of Zion Canyon is fairly warm. 

If we’re visiting during the spring, summer, or fall, I usually bring a light fleece jacket and a rain poncho. Kendall has a favorite waterproof jacket that he brings with him.

Zion National Park Packing List

April through November are the best months to visit Zion National Park. April, May, October, and November are shoulder season months, and they are (in our opinion) the best time to visit.  The temperatures are cooler, but the crowds are much thinner.  

June through September are the warmest and most popular months, and they’re also a great time to visit if you’re willing to wake up early to beat the crowds. The following packing list is for these warmer months of the year. Later in the article, we’ll cover what to add to your packing list if you want to visit in the winter. 

fair weather in zion canyon
Our most recent Zion trip was in early May, and we had fantastic weather and fewer crowds.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Narrows is often closed during the early spring months due to an increased river flow rate from snow runoff.  Be sure to check the park’s current conditions before planning your trip so you don’t run into any unexpected surprises.

Clothing, Footwear, and Accessories (April-November)

Light jacket: I prefer a lightweight fleece, while Kendall prefers a light waterproof rain jacket. 

Leggings or quick-drying hiking pants: I like hiking in Capri leggings with pockets as I can roll up the bottom to turn them into ‘hiking shorts.’

Hiking Shirts: My favorite hot-weather hiking shirts are long-sleeved lightweight shirts, as they better protect my arms from the sun. I’ll also usually bring a few tank tops or short-sleeved shirts. 

Synthetic materials tend to be better, as they wick moisture and are quick-drying, which is especially important if you are likely to get wet, such as while hiking the Narrows. 

Headband or Hat: I always bring a headband to keep flyaway hairs and sweat off my face.  It also protects the part in my hair from the sun.

Sunglasses: Since I wear prescription glasses, I often bring clip-on sunglasses. They are lighter and less bulky than bringing both my regular prescription glasses and my prescription sunglasses, and they are one of my favorite hiking gadgets. 

Hiking Boots: My favorite hiking boots are the Columbia Newton Ridge series.  While you can get away with wearing regular tennis shoes for most of the day hiking within Zion, we recommend actual hiking boots if you plan to do hard hikes.  If you plan to hike the Narrows, you’ll need good water boots (we’ll discuss this below). 

Hiking Socks: real hiking socks made from synthetic materials are always better than cotton.  They wick moisture and help keep your feet dry, preventing blisters. 

brown headband with white spots
clip-on sunglasses
brown Columbia hiking boots | what to pack for Zion National Park

Gear and Safety

Day Pack: Unless you are planning on backpacking or overnight hiking, a regular day pack will work to carry your stuff.  

Hiking Poles (Optional): If you have bad knees like mine, hiking poles can be a great way to relieve pressure on your joints. However, if you plan to hike Angels Landing, we recommend leaving your poles with a friend at Scout’s Lookout or bringing collapsible poles that you can stick in your backpack, as you’ll want your hands free for the chains section.  

Headlamp: it’s always a good idea to bring a small headlamp in your daypack in case you get stuck out on the trail later than planned. 

Phone with downloaded trail maps: reception is spotty in Zion Canyon, so you’ll want to have trail maps of the hikes you’ll be doing.  We pay for the Alltrails Premium service and love it. 

Power Bank: Especially if you use your phone as a trail map and a camera, you’ll want a portable charging bank.   

Small First Aid Kit: we bring the following in our first aid kit

  • Small roll of moleskin (just remember to apply before a blister develops)
  • Antiinflammatory medications and allergy medications.
  • Duct tape: We usually wrap this around our sunscreen bottle.  It has come in handy for everything from taping shoes back together to helping keep a bandage in place. 
  • Small tube of antibiotic ointment
  • A small plastic bag with assorted band-aids and small bandages
  • A small roll of sports or KT tape: sprained ankles are the most common injury on the trail, and taping your ankle is an easy way to give it a little more support.  

Sunscreen and Chapstick with SPF Protection: Sun protection is a must!  Don’t forget to reply at least every two hours.

Mosquito Spray: We recommend carrying travel-size spray bottles in your day pack and then refilling with a larger bottle at the end of each day. 

black collapsible trekking poles
Anker power bank
travel sized tube of mosquito repellent

Snacks and Water

Many of the national parks we’ve visited, including Zion, have pretty limited dining options within the park itself. Zion has a restaurant at the Zion Lodge, but this means making a shuttle trip back to the Lodge and often having to wait in line again to board the shuttle going up the canyon.  

We’ve never eaten at the lodge and always bring enough snacks to last until we’re done hiking for the day.  Carrying your food will save you not only money but also a TON of time.  We’ve written an entire post on our favorite hiking snacks, so be sure to check it out. 

Reusable Water Bottle(s): We recommend bringing two one-liter bottles, especially for harder hikes or hikes during the day’s heat, and make sure to refill before each new trail so you’ll have enough water.

You can refill your bottles at the following locations: 

  • Zion Canyon Visitor Center (shuttle stop #1)
  • South and Watchman Campground (5-10 minute walk from the Zion Visitor Center)
  • Zion Human History Museum (shuttle stop #2)
  • Zion Lodge (shuttle stop #5)
  • The Grotto (shuttle stop #6, trailhead to Angel’s Landing)
  • Temple of Sinawava (shuttle stop #9, trailhead for The Narrows)

Water Filter: We like to bring at least one small water filter between us in case we need to refill our bottles from a natural water source along the trail.  My current favorite water filter is Sawyer’s squeeze pouch system

sawyer water filter with squeeze pouch
This Sawyer water filter squeeze pouch system is our current favorite.

Park Entrance Pass

When entering Zion National Park, you’ll need one of the following passes:

Standard Pass

  • Cost: $35 per vehicle, $30 per motorcycle, or $20 per person on foot.
  • Valid for seven consecutive days from the date of purchase.
  • Best for a one-time visit to Zion National Park without plans to visit other parks 

Annual Pass

  • Cost: $70 and admits the pass holder and all passengers in a non-commercial vehicle.
  • Ideal for multiple visits to Zion National Park within a year without plans to visit other national parks 

America the Beautiful Pass

  • Cost: $80 and covers the entrance fee of one vehicle or four people, depending on the park.
  • Valid for all lands managed by the National Parks Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and more, best for those visiting multiple national parks within the same year.

Important Notes About Entrance Passes

  • Passes are non-transferable.
  • Displaying the pass in the car window is not required but must be kept with you when re-entering the park, even if re-entering on foot.
  • Park rangers often check IDs, especially with the America the Beautiful Pass.

Permit to Hike Angels Landing

Starting in 2022, hikers wanting to ascend the chains portion of Angels Landing (after Scout’s Lookout) will need a valid permit. Be sure to read our article on how to hike Angels Landing as we cover the permit process in more detail. 

What to Pack for Zion National Park in Winter

Zion can be an incredible place to visit in the winter if you don’t mind the cold and want to avoid the crowds.  While some hikes like The Narrows or Angels Landing can be more dangerous in cold weather, plenty of others are perfectly suitable even when the weather is cold.  

You’ll just want to be prepared with warmer clothes and a few extra essentials.  Here’s what we recommend if you plan on hiking Zion in the winter: 

Fleece Jacket: you’ll definitely want a fleece layer to go on top of your synthetic hiking clothes. 

Thicker overcoat or fleece: I actually wear a thick fleece on top of my thinner fleece instead of a heavy overcoat, as I find that it keeps me plenty warm without being overly bulky. 

Gloves: cheap cloth gloves do just fine for most day hikes.  If you’re dead set on hiking Angel’s Landing in the winter, you’ll need gloves with grip for the chains portion of the hike. 

Micro Spikes: Bring micro spikes if you’re planning a winter trip.  While you may not need them on easy trails if there isn’t too much ice, they’re always good to have.  If hiking Angels Landing in the winter, always carry micro spikes in your backpack.  You may run into icy patches even if the trail is clear lower down, and this hike isn’t where you want to slip. 

orange micro-spikes on a pair of brown hiking boots.
These spikes make a huge difference when hiking on ice.

Insulated Water Bottle: I tend to prefer cheap flip-top style water bottles, except when I’m hiking in the winter. For any cold-weather activities, we recommend bringing an insulated water bottle (Hydroflask is our favorite brand) and filling it with hot water before heading out. Your water will stay warm all day, and you won’t have to drink ice-cold water on a freezing day. 

Emergency Blanket and Whistle: we always carry an emergency blanket and a whistle, but this is especially important when hiking in winter.  The days are shorter, and the temperatures are colder.  We’ve never had to use our blanket or whistle, but we always have them with us.  

What to Pack for Hiking the Narrows

Hiking through the Narrows Slot Canyon is an incredible experience that we highly recommend to everyone.  However, because you’ll be walking directly in the Virgin River for the majority of the hike, there are a few clothing items you’ll need to have.  You can purchase these before your trip to Zion, but we’ve found it’s easiest to simply rent from one of the Narrows outfitters in Springdale.  

Narrows Gear Available for Rent in Springdale

Water boots: these boots aren’t designed to keep out the water but are designed not to hold water and get bogged down.

Neoprene socks: these socks are like a wetsuit for your feet and will keep your feet warm even when wet. 

Drysuit, dry pants, or dry bib: The Virgin River water temperature stays pretty cold throughout the year.  You can get away with not wearing a drysuit during July or August, but for any other month of the year, you’ll definitely want to wear either the pants, the bib, or the full drysuit. 

hiker wearing a purple drysuit in the Zion Narrows slot canyon
We rented the full drysuit package when we did this hike in early October.
zion narrows slot canyon
You’ll be walking directly in the river for the majority of The Narrows hike.

Wooden hiking stick (not trekking poles): you’ll want a thick, sturdy hiking staff with a loop around your wrist.  Since you often can’t see the bottom of the river where you’ll be stepping, the staff is immensely helpful in maintaining your balance in the river’s current.  Regular trekking poles are not a good option here as they can get stuck in the rocks at the bottom of the river.

Dry bag(Optional): If the river level is high and you are carrying expensive equipment (like a nice camera), we recommend renting a dry bag. If not, you can simply put your phone and any other electronics in a double-layered gallon ziplock bag. Kendall and I did this the last time we hiked the narrows, and our stuff stayed perfectly dry.

Narrows Gear Not Offered By Rental Companies

Synthetic underclothing: You definitely don’t want to wear jeans underneath your drysuit. If your suit leaks and the jeans get wet, you’ll be soaked and miserable for the entire hike. We recommend leggings and a synthetic hiking shirt. 

Hat: You’ll want something to keep your head warm, as the canyon can get chilly. 

Neoprene gloves: I’ve done the Narrows bottom-up hike twice.  The first time, I didn’t wear gloves; the second time, I did, and my hands were much more comfortable with the neoprene.  However, you won’t be able to use the touch screen on your phone with the gloves on, so keep that in mind. 

close-up photo of black neoprene gloves
These are the neoprene gloves I wore on our October Narrows hike and they really helped keep my hands comfortable.

What to Pack to Zion National Park FAQ

What Snacks to Take to Zion?

The best hiking snacks are high-calorie and have a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  Some best hiking snacks include trail mix with nuts and dried fruit, cheese with fruit leather, and hummus with crackers.  All of these snacks will keep you energized on the trail.

What Do People Wear to Zion?

You’ll want to wear plenty of layers when visiting Zion National Park, as the weather can change throughout the day. Synthetic hiking shorts or pants with a synthetic, moisture-wicking shirt and a light jacket are recommended during the spring, summer, and fall months. Winter hikers also want to bring a warmer down jacket and a thermal underlayer. 

Planning A Trip To Zion National Park?

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