National Park Guide

How Does the Zion Canyon Shuttle Work? Here's Everything You Need to Know.

With a record number of people visiting Zion National Park, the Zion Canyon shuttle minimizes traffic and parking problems as well as restores the national park’s tranquility during the peak season.

The shuttle provides visitors access to Zion’s upper canyon via the Scenic Drive. The Zion upper canyon is where you can hike the world-famous Angels Landing and The Narrows as well as access the Emerald Pools.

If you want to make the most out of your trip to Zion National Park, make sure you know how the Zion shuttle service works!

In this in-depth guide, I’ll teach you everything you need to know to about the Zion Canyon shuttle system, including:

  1. What months and times the shuttle runs in Zion National Park
  2. Where the shuttle stops are along the Scenic Drive
  3. How to avoid long Zion Canyon shuttle lines

How the shuttle system works in Zion National Park

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

What is the Zion Canyon Shuttle Service?

From March through November, the Zion Canyon shuttle takes visitors up the Scenic Drive into the upper Zion Canyon. Here, you'll find some of the top attractions in Zion National Park, including Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, Angels Landing, Zion Lodge, and The Narrows.

The Zion Canyon shuttle starts at the Visitor Center and takes about 40 minutes to ride to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava, where The Narrows is located. The Zion shuttle route is 8.1-miles (one-way) with nine stops that you can get on and off to explore throughout the day.

As of May 28, 2021, the Zion shuttle ticket system has been discontinued. This means you no longer need to reserve advanced tickets to ride the shuttle in Zion National Park. All you have to do is show up at the Visitor Center and board the shuttle on a first-come-first-serve basis.

*When the Zion Canyon shuttle is in operation, you CANNOT drive your car in Zion National Park along the Scenic Drive. You can either ride the shuttle or bike up the Scenic Drive.

A picture of the Zion Canyon shuttle with hikers at The Narrows waiting in line to ride the shuttle.
During the summer months, lines for the Zion Canyon shuttle can be up to a 45-minute wait or more.

Zion Shuttle Map & Stops

The shuttle stops at 9 locations along the Scenic Drive for visitors to explore the best of Zion National Park. Below is a list of the Zion shuttle stops and a brief description of each. 

*Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions and rockfall, several stops are closed. 

Map of the Zion shuttle stops along the Scenic Drive into upper Zion Canyon.
Map of the Zion Canyon shuttle route up the Scenic Drive. Credit: National Park Services.

Stop #1: Zion Canyon Visitor Center

The Visitor Center, located next to the Zion National Park entrance, is where the Zion shuttle starts. Not only do you board the shuttle here, but you can also fill up on water, use the restroom, and browse the souvenir shop.

The Visitor Center is also where you'll find the trailheads for Pa’rus Trail and Watchman Trail, both Zion hikes that you can do without needing the shuttle to get to.

Stop #2: Zion Human History Museum (closed)

Interested in learning about the rich human history of civilizations that inhabited the Zion area? Hop off here to enjoy the cultural exhibits and videos.

Stop #3: Canyon Junction (closed)

This is where Route 9 and the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive intersect. During shuttle season, you cannot drive your private vehicle past the Canyon Junction up the Scenic Drive.

The Canyon Junction stop is also where you can easily access the Virgin River and the end of the Pa’rus Trail. Hike down this trail along the river to get back to the Visitor Center.

Stop #4: Court of the Patriarchs (closed)

Walk along the 150-foot paved trail to get to the scenic viewpoint for the three Patriarch Peaks.

Stop #5: Zion Lodge

A major shuttle stop, the Zion Lodge is where tons of visitors hop on and off the shuttle. Expect crowds since many visitors come to the Zion Lodge to stay overnight in Zion, eat, and souvenir shop. You’ll also find people resting and relaxing on the lawn throughout the day.

Get off here if you plan to hike to the Lower, Middle, and Upper Emerald Pools along the Emerald Pools Trail or to hike the Sand Bench Trail. 

Stop #6: The Grotto

The Grotto is another popular shuttle stop since this is where many hikers go to find one of Zion’s top hikes, the famous Angels Landing. 

Hikers can also access the Kayenta Trail, which is another way of getting to the Emerald Pools.

To get back to Zion Lodge, you can hike along The Grotto Trail. This is a great way to avoid waiting in shuttle lines if they are too long.

This Grotto shuttle stop has restrooms and water stations.

Stop #7: Weeping Rock (closed)

Weeping Rock is where you’ll find water springs and unique ferns and flowers clinging to the rocks. For a moment, you’ll forget you’re even in the desert!

If you’re looking for Zion hikes that are less crowded, hike to the Hidden Canyon or to Observation Point, both of which you can access at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop.

*Note: Weeping Rock is currently closed (indefinitely) due to rockfall.  

Stop #8: Big Bend

A great observation point to stop and enjoy views of hikers on Angels Landing and the Great White Throne.

Stop #9: Temple of Sinawava

The Temple of Sinawava is the last stop for the Zion Canyon shuttle and the ultimate place where you can access the river. This is where you can hike IN the Virgin River itself along The Narrows, the famous Zion hike known all around the world!

And if you don’t want to hike The Narrows, you can hike the Riverside Walk, an easy, paved trail that follows the Virgin River along the canyon.

A list of Zion shuttle stops. The list also shows which shuttle stops are currently closed.
Many of the Zion shuttle stops are closed due to COVID-19 restrictions or rockfall.

What time does the shuttle run in Zion?

The first shuttle leaves the Visitor Center at 6:00 am daily, with shuttles running every 6-10 minutes. 

The very last shuttle for the day out of Zion Canyon leaves the Temple of Sinawava at 7:15 pm from mid-March to mid-May and 8:15 pm from mid-May to mid-September. But do not wait until that very last shuttle to leave the canyon...the last thing you want after a long day of adventuring is missing the shuttle back out of the canyon due to a full shuttle!

How to avoid long Zion shuttle lines

Now that the Zion shuttle ticketing system has been discontinued, lines for the Zion Canyon shuttle are guaranteed to be long, especially during the peak summer months.

Friends that have recently visited Zion National Park (June 2021) told me that even though they showed up at the Visitor Center at 6:30 am to ride the shuttle to hike Angels Landing, the wait time was 4 HOURS! The craziest part was that this was during the middle of the week...

I’m sure the last thing you want to do is spend your valuable time in Zion National Park standing in line to ride the shuttle. Here are my tips and hacks for avoiding long Zion shuttle lines:

  1. Start as early as possible - make sure you are in line for the first shuttle out of the Visitor Center well in advance of 6:00 am. I recommend camping inside Zion at Watchman or South campground so you can start your day as early as possible.
  2. Use an alternate way to get into upper Zion Canyon - did you know that you can still hike Angels Landing and The Narrows without taking the shuttle? Here is how you can get to the upper Zion canyon along the Scenic Drive without the shuttle. 
  3. Hike and explore areas of Zion that you can drive to - the Scenic Drive into the upper Zion Canyon is the only part of Zion National Park that requires you to take the shuttle. This means you can drive yourself to other parts of Zion, including the Kolob Canyons and the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway. Check out these hikes and stunning observation points that don’t need the Zion shuttle to get to! 
  4. Visit Zion during the off-peak season - the best way to avoid the crowds and long shuttle lines is to go during the fall and spring seasons.
  5. Visit Zion during the non-shuttle season - whenever the shuttle is not in operation (December through February), visitors are allowed to drive their cars in all parts of Zion National Park, including up the Scenic Drive into upper Zion Canyon.
A female hiker standing at the edge of the canyon in Zion. She is looking out into the distance at a series of canyons in lower Zion. There are no crowds around her.
Canyon Overlook Trail is a Zion hike that does not need the shuttle to get to. The observation point at the end of the hike offers incredible views of lower Zion Canyon.

Conclusion

The Zion Canyon shuttle takes visitors from the Zion Visitor Center up the Scenic Drive into upper Zion Canyon from March - November.

To make the most out of your trip to Zion National Park, it’s important to understand how the shuttle service works, especially if hiking Angels Landing and The Narrows is on your Zion bucket list of things to do.

If lines to ride the Zion shuttle are insanely long, skip them. Don’t waste your time! Not only are there other options for you to get into the upper Zion Canyon, but there are also a ton of other things to do and Zion hikes that don’t need the shuttle to get to!

What are some of your tips for avoiding long shuttle lines?

Plan Your Trip to Zion National Park

I only recommend products that I have used myself and genuinely love. All opinions expressed are honest and mine. This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I receive a small compensation at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase. Since The Adventure Diet is reader-supported, any purchases you make will help keep this blog alive! As always, thank you for your never-ending support.

Pin it for later!

about the author
Molly Chhiv
What's up! This Cambodian kid is an outdoor addict, adventure blogger, & your personal HYPE GIRL. Through the outdoors, I've learned self-confidence, independence, & mental strength. My mission through The Adventure Diet is to share the power of the outdoors with you. I want to empower you with tips, tools and inspiration to get outside with confidence and find yourself.

So if you're ready, let's get out there and do this sh*t!

join the conversation

I know you're craving more...