Preparing for a trip to Zion National Park and not sure what to pack? We’ve got you covered with a complete packing list of everything you need to bring for a great experience in Zion! From permits and reservations to hiking gear and waterproof equipment for the Narrows, we’ll break down the most important items to add to your Zion packing list, along with our own personal recommendations.
You can use the links below to jump around to each section of our Zion packing list:
- Zion reservations and passes
- Zion hiking gear
- What to pack for cold weather
- Sun protection
- Packing list for the Zion Narrows
- Photography gear
- Camping gear
- Seasons in Zion
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Zion National Park Packing List
In this article, we’ll outline everything you will need to pack for your trip to Zion National Park, including reservations and passes, hiking and camping gear, apparel for cold weather, and all equipment needed for the famous Narrows.
We’ve also included some of our personal recommendations based on the gear we use every time we are out on the trail! We hope you’ll find our Zion packing list helpful in preparing for your upcoming trip to one of America’s most beautiful national parks.
Zion reservations and passes
The most important items on your Zion National Park packing list are reservations and permits. In terms of national parks, Zion is actually pretty straightforward when it comes to advance reservations.
Unlike other national parks, you don’t need to make a reservation just to enter the park but you will want to do some pre-work to make sure your trip goes smoothly.
Both Angel’s Landing and the Narrows, the two most popular hikes in Zion, will require you to do some planning in advance.
America the Beautiful Pass
If you are planning to visit at least 3 national parks over the next year, it’s worth purchasing an America the Beautiful Pass. This pass allows you to enter all U.S. National Parks for one calendar year.
You can purchase a pass in advance online at REI.
Angel’s Landing Permits
Starting in 2022, permits are required to hike Angel’s Landing, so be sure to plan ahead if you want to climb the “most dangerous hike in America”! You can apply for a permit during a seasonal lottery window that opens 2 – 5 months in advance of your hike, depending on when you are visiting.
If you miss the seasonal lottery, you also have the option to snag a permit the day before you want to hike via the “day-before” lottery. This is definitely a little risky so plan to get a permit in advance if you can.
Be sure to check out the Zion NPS website for more details on Angel’s Landing permits.
Gear rental reservations for the Narrows
No visit to Zion is complete without hiking the Narrows! If you plan to wade into the freezing waters of America’s most popular slot canyon, you will want to rent gear, including waiters, neoprene socks and waterproof shoes.
Gear rentals can sell out, so be sure to make reservations in advance. You can rent gear for the Narrows from Zion Outfitters, and pick it up the day before or morning of your Narrows hike.
What to pack for hiking in Zion
If you are visiting Zion, you have to spend some time on the trails. If you do plan on hiking, these pieces of gear should be at the top of your Zion packing list!
- Hiking boots (Hers: Danner Mountain 600s, His: Salomon Ultra 4 Mid GTX) | A pair of hiking boots with good traction is essential for hiking in Zion, especially on steep exposed hikes like Angel’s Landing. I love my Danner Mountain 600’s!
- Hiking poles (Hers: Black Diamond Distance Z poles, His: Black Diamond Distance FLZ poles ) | If you’re hiking Angel’s Landing or Observation Point via Stave Spring, hiking poles are essential! These trails are steep and having hiking poles will make the climbs easier and take some pressure off your knees.
- Backpack with bladder (Hers: CamelBak Helena 20L, His: Camelback Rim Runner 22L) | A mid-sized day pack like the Camelback Helena or Rim Runner is perfect for packing plenty of water, snacks, and other essentials for your day hiking through Zion.
- Hiking socks (Darn Tough) | Darn Tough makes our favorite hiking socks – they’re thick, comfortable and durable. Everything you need in a good hiking socks.
What to pack for cold weather in Zion
If you’re visiting Zion in late fall through early spring (October through March), expect cooler temperatures, and possible icy conditions on the trail. Add the following items to your Zion packing list for colder weather:
- Microspikes | Especially important if you plan to attempt to hike Angel’s Landing from November through March, microspikes provide needed traction and stability in slippery and icy conditions. Honestly, we wouldn’t recommend attempting to hike Angel’s Landing if it has recently snowed, but microspikes will help on any trail that is covered in ice or snow.
- Down Jacket (Hers: Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody Women’s Down Hoodie, His: Cotopaxi Fuego) | When you think of Utah, you likely think of red rocks, desert and heat. But Zion gets very cold during the winter, and nights are chilly even during the summer. A golid down jacket is one of the best investments you can make!
- Gloves and hats | Nothing is more annoying that cold ears and frozen fingers. Keep that body temp high with a good pair of gloves and a winter hat.
- Pullovers (Hers: Smartwool Merino Quarter Zip, His: Smartwool Merino Quarter Zip) | These Smartwool quarter zips are so warm and comfortable – perfect to keep you comfortable on a chilly morning in Zion.
During the warmer months, the desert sun in Zion National Park is strong, so be sure pack good sun protection!
- Sunscreen and chapstick | Super important to keep your skin and lips protected during long days outside in Zion. Nobody wants to be the bright red lobster walking around with crispy, sun-burnt skin!
- Sunglasses (Goodr) | At only $25, Goodr sunglasses are cheap, durable and non-slip (perfect if you’re the type of person that tends to loose sunglasses, like me!)
- Hats | an old ball cap is perfect for hiking – it prevents your scalp from getting sunburned, blocks the sun from you eyes, and it’s great to hide messy hair!.
Packing list for the Zion Narrows
If you plan to hike the Narrows during your trip to Zion, you will need a few pieces of specialized gear. If you don’t already own any of the items on this list, you can rent them but be sure to make reservations before you go.
- Drybag | To store your food and personal items for the Narrows, you should bring a dry sack and/or rent a waterproof backpack. The Virgin River is rocky, and it’s all too easy to slip on a rock and go straight into the water (speaking from personal experience here…)! If you plan to carry anything of value, it’s definitely worth renting a waterproof backpack. Otherwise, a dry bag (like Sea to Summit’s Lightweight Dry Sack) will do the trick!
- Dry bib/pants & waterproof shoes | To keep yourself dry and warm in the Narrows, you will want to wear a dry bib or pants and water proof shoes. You can rent these from Zion Outfitters, just outside the park. If the Virgin River is running low, you might be okay to skip the dry bib/pants if you are okay with you shins getting wet.
- Neoprene socks | Regardless of when you visit, the Virgin River will be cold! A pair of neoprene socks under your hiking boots or waterproof shoes are helpful for keeping your feet warm. You can purchase your own pair or rent them from Zion Outfitters.
- Hiking stick | A hiking stick (not your typical hiking poles) is really handy for the Narrows. Because it’s thick, it gives you more stability than traditional hiking poles, which is super helpful for navigating the hidden and slippery rocks along the riverbed. You can also rent a stick from Zion Outfitters.
- Water shoes | If visiting during the summer you could get away with a pair of hiking sandals, like Chacos, instead of renting waterproof shoes, though we’d recommend at leas having closed toed shoes to protect your feet from the rocky riverbed.
- Towel (PackTowl lightweight towel) | This compact, lightweight towel is perfect to bring with you for the Narrows to dry off after wading through the river.
Zion is a photographer’s heaven! With teal blue waters and towering sandstone walls, your camer will definitely be getting a workout! Here’s the camera gear I always pack for hiking:
- Camera (Nikon Z6 or Canon M100)| I take nearly all my photos with my beloved Nikon Z6, a mirrorless full frame camera. If you’re looking for something smaller and less pricey, the Canon M100 was my first “real” camera and its compact size makes it great for hiking, while still taking great quality photos.
- Peak Design Camera Clip | The Peak Design camera clip is a game-changer for hiking with a camera! It hooks onto your backpack strap and allows you to click your camera into place, making it much easier to lug around a heavy camera on the trail.
- Matador Camera Bag | The Matador camera bag provides lightweight protection for your camera that’s easy to take on and off, and includes a water resistant layer. It isn’t 100% waterproof, so you wouldn’t want to fall in the Virgin River with it, but it protects against splashes and rain showers.
There are three campgrounds in Zion National Park: the Watchman Campground, South Campground, Lava Point Campground. Campsites in the park are in high demand so be sure to make reservations well in advance. Dispersed camping is also available just outside of Zion in the Hurricane Cliffs Recreation Area or Leeds Canyon.
If you plan to camp in Zion, your packing list just got a whole lot longer! You can find a complete list of favorite car camping gear detailed in the following article:
Seasons in Zion National Park
The types of hiking clothes you should pack for visiting Zion will vary a good deal based on the season. Below, we’ll give you a quick rundown on what types of temperatures and weather to expect in each season in Zion to help you decide what items to add to your packing list.
Winters (November through February) in Zion are cold! Averages highs run around the mid-40s, but temperatures drop significantly at night, with average lows in the mid-20s. Snow is not uncommon in Zion during the winter, which can make the trails icy and impassable.
Visiting Zion in the winter is not a great idea if you want to hike Angel’s Landing, the Narrows, or the Subway. Make sure you bring plenty of layers, wool leggings, puffy coat, winter hat/gloves, etc.
Spring (March through May) in Zion is lovely! March and early April is one of the shoulder seasons, meaning fewer crowds than peak season but temperate daytime temperatures in 50’s to 60’s. Expect chilly nights and mornings, with lows dropping into the 30’s so you will still need to pack warmer layers!
Because water levels tend to be higher due to rain and melting snow, spring isn’t the best time to hike the Narrows or the Subway. It is possible (we’ve done it in April), but you may not be able to hike the entire length of the Narrows due to high water levels.
With a wide range of possible temperatures, you should plan on packing a versatile wardrobe and plenty of layers. Think about brining things like quarter zips, windbreakers, long sleeve base layers, and maybe still thrown in your winter hat and gloves just in case.
Summers (June through August) in Zion are hot, with average highs in the 90s, so you’ll want to pack appropriate summer hiking clothes! Pack shorts, t-shirts, plenty of sun protection, and a backpack with a bladder to carry at least 2 liters of water while hiking. At night, temperatures tend to fall into the low 60s.
Summer is peak season in Zion so expect to share Zion’s most iconic spots with lots of other hikers.
Fall is a great time to visit Zion! Crowds are a bit lighter than during the summer and temperatures are more pleasant, ranging around the 60s to 70s during the day and 40s at night.
Fall is also a good time to hike the Narrows, as water levels are still typically low and water temperatures are mild. Similar to the spring, temperatures can vary so plan on packing plenty of layers and versatile clothing options.
Planning a trip to Zion?
Planning a trip to Zion National Park? Check out the article below for three great ideas for how to spend one day in the park!
How to Spend One Day in Zion National Park: 3 Awesome Ideas
In this article, we’ve outlined three amazing ways to spend one day in Zion National Park and we’ll help you decide which is right for you based on your interests and when you are visiting.
Questions for what to pack for visiting and hiking in Zion National Park? Let us know in the comments below and we’re happy to help!