On Saturday, March 11, the Zion Shuttle System returned to service for 2023. The Zion Canyon and Springdale shuttles help to alleviate traffic, parking shortages, and crowding in the park during the busiest times of the year. Over the years, the operation times for the shuttles have been extended. Today, they remain in operation daily from mid-March to late November. They also operate between Christmas and New Year’s.
Riding the Zion Shuttle can be a great—and necessary—tool for navigating the park’s popular Lower Canyon during your visit. But for first-time visitors or those not familiar with the shuttles, they can be confusing and even frustrating. Failing to do a little research ahead of your trip can result in a lot of time spent searching for parking, waiting in lines, or missing your shuttle stop.
If you’re planning a trip to Southern Utah and Watchman Villas in 2023, keep reading. We’re breaking down a few simple tips to make the most of your Zion Shuttle ride.
Stay in Zion National Park Vacation Rentals to Skip the Hassle of Finding Parking
Perhaps the most important tip for riding the Zion shuttle that first-time visitors should know is how to find parking. There is a parking lot available at the South Entrance of Zion. This lot is adjacent to the Visitor Center. But on busy days in the park, it’s not unusual for that lot to fill by mid-morning. Paid parking is available in Springdale. But this also may fill quickly, especially during the summer and on weekends.
Staying in Zion National Park vacation rentals like Watchman Villas can alleviate this hassle. Instead of having to find parking in or near Zion, you can simply leave your vehicle parked at your private villa. Located just one mile from the South Entrance, guests can walk to Zion’s entrance gate. Shuttle Stop #6, on the Springdale Shuttle Line, is also located just steps away. This makes it easy to ride to the entrance to the park and transfer to the Zion Canyon Shuttle loop to start your day.
Hop Aboard Early in the Day
Besides walking, the Zion Shuttle offers the only other way to get around in Zion’s popular Lower Canyon. This is where trailheads for Angels Landing, The Narrows, and more are located.
With so many visitors trying to navigate the Lower Canyon, lines can sometimes form at shuttle stops in the park. If you’re hoping to hike a popular trail, you’ll want to board the shuttle early in the day. Not only will this help you avoid a line at the shuttle stop, but will also allow you to enjoy the trail with fewer crowds.
Staying in the Zion cabin rentals at Watchman Villas makes it easy to get an early start on your day in the park. After a long hike, you can then hop back on the shuttle to ride back to your villa to relax and unwind in the afternoon.
Know the Rules Before You Ride
If you know that you’ll be riding a Zion shuttle during your visit, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the rules before you arrive.
There are just a few rules that riders must follow while on the shuttle. First, pets are not allowed on the buses. Pets are only allowed in a few designated areas within Zion, including just one trail. If you do visit with a pet, you’ll need to walk into the Lower Canyon rather than catch a bus.
Food and drink cannot be consumed while on the shuttle buses, with the exception of capped water bottles. If you’re bringing trail snacks along for your hike, keep them in your backpack for the ride.
Smoking is not permitted on buses.
Finally, bicycles and strollers are allowed on the shuttle buses but must be loaded onto the bike racks at the front of the bus. Riders must be able to load their own bike or stroller, without help from the driver. E-bikes are not allowed on bike racks or on shuttle buses.
Make a Plan to Minimize Stops
Another important tip for riding the Zion shuttle is to plan out what stops you’d like to hop off on ahead of time.
In total, there are nine stops in Zion Canyon, starting at the Visitor Center. When the shuttle is running north, into the canyon, it stops at all stops. However, on the way back south, towards the entrance to the park, the shuttle only stops at Shuttle Stop 8, 3, 2, and 1. This means that when you get ready to leave the park, you’ll need to walk or ride the shuttle to one of these stops.
Hopping off at every stop can add a lot of time to your trip, especially on days when the shuttle is busy. Consider choosing stops that have a hike you want to do, or walk between stops to save time.
Navigating the Zion Shuttle
While it can be confusing, with a little research, the Zion Shuttle is easy to use to get around during your visit. From following the rules to staying in Zion National Park vacation rentals like Watchman Villas to avoid the hassle of finding parking, these tips can help you ride like a pro.
Ready to start planning a 2023 visit to Zion National Park? Now is a great time to book your trip! When you book a stay of four or more nights at Watchman Villas before June 30, you’ll enjoy a 25 percent discount on your stay. Book today to take advantage of these savings.