Visiting Zion in April

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Visiting Zion in April

Learn all about what to expect visiting Zion National Park in April

Updated: 10/12/22

April is a great time to visit Zion National Park. The valley of Zion Canyon is lush with green flora, the Virgin River is rushing quick and clean, and wildlife is frolicking in the warm sun. There are many benefits to visiting Zion in April, as well as some drawbacks. If you are able to visit the park in April, you are sure to have a fantastic trip, and leave with an appreciation for the beauty and magnitude of Zion.

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Benefits of Visiting Zion in April

The biggest benefit of visiting Zion in April is the breathtaking scenery. The classic red, pink, and cream rocks of Zion contrasted against the lush green cottonwoods, junipers, grasses, and other plants is simply stunning. As the snow melts at high elevation, the Virgin River is fed with clean, aqua blue water, creating another beautiful contrast in the valley. Early wildflowers pop out in the spring and make for beautiful colors in the canyon as well. It is truly breathtaking in Zion in the spring. The lighting of early spring can create marvelous sunrises and sunsets, and is a great time of year for photography. Wildlife is also out and about more in April than it has been earlier in the year. Reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals will be out and more active as well as some of the larger animals being willing to spend more energy on play instead of conserving it for warmth. It is calving season for mule deer in the park, so keep your eyes peeled for fawns and other young ones.

Another perk of Zion in April compared to earlier in the year is that hiking is much more accessible and is in fact ideal in April. With the snow melted, the trails are open and accessible without winter gear or experience. This opens up one of the biggest activities in the park: hiking to some of the more remote areas that you can’t drive to. Hiking is truly world class in Zion and you will not regret the opportunity to do some of the more challenging hikes that were unavailable in winter. Angels Landing Via Scout Lookout is one of the most famous trails in the Park and is typically accessible by April. It does require permits however and they can be very competitive to get, so make sure you plan ahead and do your research or book a trip with a guiding company to do this day hike where permits are included. A related benefit to April in Zion is that you no longer have to deal with the winter weather that you would earlier in the year. Winter requires more gear and expertise to even visit the park, never mind hike or canyoneer, but April opens up many more opportunities. While it can still be chilly at night, camping is a more pleasant option and does not require snow gear. Backpacking is also opening up to more people as crampons and microspikes are no longer required and you can travel with three season tents. April is truly spectacular in Zion as all the best factors collide into a single month.

Drawbacks of Visiting in APril

One of the biggest drawbacks of visiting Zion in April is that spring break crowds start to arrive as the month progresses. Spring, summer and early fall are the busiest seasons in Zion, and you will begin to see the crowds in April. This means long lines for shuttle buses, overcrowded services, and peak season accommodation rates and availability. Anyone who has tried to plan a last-minute trip to Zion during peak season knows how fast accommodations book up. You will have to plan your trip months in advance in order to get accommodations at all, even outside the park. And if you do find any accommodations available, you will have to shell out peak season prices for them, as lodges and hotels know that this is when the busy season begins. Another drawback is that the weather can be unpredictable in April. While it will always be better than winter, April can still see snow at higher elevations that make trails inaccessible without winter gear. You might also find it to rain frequently in April, perhaps more frequently than you would like. Related to this, the high snowmelt levels due to the warmth of spring will make rivers and streams rise. This often results in the closure of the Narrows due to high water levels and strong currents. This hike is one of the most iconic in the park and some visitors feel as though they have missed out if they don’t get a chance to hike it. Another drawback is that you will not be able to drive your private vehicle through the canyon this time of year, but will have to take shuttle buses past Canyon Junction, which can make your schedule more confined and travel more of a headache as you wait in line for the next bus.

Overall however, April is simply a great time to visit. Your biggest drawback by far will be that everyone else also knows that it’s a great time to visit. If spring or summer is the only time of year that you can make it to Zion, here are some tips to avoid the crowds:

1. Get to the Park Early: The earlier you get to Zion, the more likely you are to get a parking spot, and the more of the park you have to yourself before the crowds arrive.

2. Visit Kolob Canyons: The Zion Canyon is small and crowded—since most visitors spend the majority of their time there. Kolob Canyons, on the other hand, are in a more isolated area of the park, provide incredible and unique views, and are much less travelled.

3. Go on a Picnic: Avoid the eateries at busy eating times, and choose to go on a picnic instead. You can stop at the grocery in Springdale before heading into the park. There are wonderful places along the river and in the shadows of the cliffs above you for a picnic meal.

4. Read Our List of Trails Less Traveled: These trails will give you a better chance for incredible views with less of a crowd.

Things To Do In April

Hiking is absolutely ideal in April. With trails ranging from easy to strenuous, there is something for everyone in Zion National Park, giving you the chance to experience the best of Zion from amazing vantage points. You can read our list of Zion’s best trails for recommendations. Make sure to catch sunrise or sunset from Canyon Overlook Trail or Watchman Overlook Trail. The Riverwalk Trail is also a great option to see the trailhead of the Narrows, a very famous hike that uses the Virgin River as its trail, winding deep into a slot canyon. The Narrows hike is rather treacherous, with very cold water and large mossy rocks on the riverbed that make it easy to slip. If you’re not comfortable doing this hike or if it has already closed for spring, the Riverwalk hike brings you right to the trailhead of the Narrows and lets you experience some of that slot canyon feeling as the canyon walls get narrower and narrower. While it will still be rather cold in April for the Narrows, you might not get a chance to hike them at all as they are always closed for at least a portion spring due to higher water levels from snow melt. Angels Landing, however, will probably be accessible and snow free in April. Permits are very competitive, so make sure you do your research or go with a tour company that will provide permits for you. The subway, a strenuous trail through a distinct canyon that requires some canyoneering and wayfinding, is also only available by permit, but is well worth it if you’re in the condition to be able to do this hike. Backpacking is also a popular activity in Zion, although the park has stricter regulations about group size, campsites, and human impact on the wilderness than other parks. Make sure you know the backpack regulations and understand the risks that this activity involves.

Bicycling through Zion Canyon is wonderful in April and lets you avoid the crowds of the shuttle bus and feel the crisp spring air whoosh past you as you cruise down the road without cars. Shuttle buses have bike racks in front if you wish to take your bicycle on them. Canyoneering and rock climbing are also popular activities in the park, and April is a great time to do them, weather permitting. These kinds of activities, however, should only be attempted by those who are experienced or with those who are experienced for the safety of everyone involved. Visiting Kolob canyons in the north west corner of the park is a great activity to escape some of the crowds. You can visit in your private vehicle and you’ll find this mini Zion to be just as spectacular but less crowded than the more famous areas. There are also many other national parks around such as Bryce Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante that make great day trips from Zion. Wildlife viewing is another popular activity in April as you are more likely to see newborn animals and the smaller animals, such as reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals will be out of hibernation and active. Birdwatching is also very popular in the park, whether you were looking for the famous California condors, migratory residents that haven’t yet left for the summer, or some of the park’s staple birds such as the American dipper or the mountain chickadee. If the weather takes a turn for the worse and you need some indoor activities to warm up, the visitor center has great interpretive exhibits and a 22 min park film that is informative and entertaining. The Zion Human History Museum is also a great option and has exhibits on Native American history, the effect that water has on the park, and much more.

things to see in april

Zion in April Angel's landing view overlookThere are nearly as many things to see in April in Zion as there are to do, and if you read the previous section– you know that’s a lot. Sightseeing is one of the most popular activities in the park and it can be done in a variety of different ways: on the shuttle bus, in your personal car, on your bike, or on foot. There are tons to things to see in Zion in April, but we’ve compiled a short list of some of the must see sights. Make sure, however, to do your own research to see what piques your interest in the park, as this list is by no means exhaustive.

Kolob Canyons: Located in the north western corner of the park, Kolob Canyons is much less trafficked than the more famous Zion Canyon. With most visitors spending most of their time in the small Zion Canyon, you may find that it gets extremely busy and that trails are swarmed with visitors. Take a drive to Kolob Canyons and experience a quieter part of Zion. While you might not have the trail entirely to yourself, the red rocks, stunning waterfalls, slot canyons, and fantastic hikes will make it well worth your time. 

Emerald Pools: This famous hike lying just across the street from the visitor center is a must do for first time Zion visitors. The trail to the first set of pools is paved and fairly flat; continuing onto the higher pools, the trail becomes steeper and more sandy. The farther you go on this trail, the more the crowds will thin out and the more you’ll be able to see these fantastically colored pools of water, gathering from dripping moisture above them.

Angels Landing: Whether or not you can or want to get hiking permits to do this strenuous but very rewarding hike, you should take time to at least see Angels Landing. If you feel like doing some hiking, the West Rim Trail and Scout Lookout make for exceptional views of the rock formation. But if you don’t feel like doing any hiking at all, the Big Bend shuttle stop on the floor of the canyon offers fantastic views from below.

Zion Human History Museum: If the crowds on the trails are becoming too cumbersome or the weather takes a downward turn for rain or cold, the Zion Human History Museum is one of the best indoor activities you can do. The museum centers on two main factors that have impacted the canyon: humans and water. First tracing human history in this land from indigenous people to early pioneers and settlers, the museum then takes time to observe how water has had an impact on this area, both as a creator and destroyer.

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Hiking in April

Hiking and backpacking are wonderful in April. Trails to high elevations are typically open and give you amazing, panoramic views of the canyon below, alive with flora and fauna. There are also many trails along the valley floor that take you next to the rushing Virgin River and through the cattails and lush cottonwoods. With trails that range from easy to moderate to strenuous, all ages and levels of ability are able to enjoy hiking in Zion. Make sure you read the current conditions for up-to-date information. There are many easy hikes that provide wonderful views in Zion. The Riverwalk–which leads you to the very trail head of the Narrows and allows you to see the beginning of the slot canyon– or the Watchman Overlook Trail— which guides you up to one of the most spectacular overlooks in the part– are both great options and relatively easy and short. The Emerald Pools ztrail is a very popular option and the path to the lower pools is wheelchair accessible with assistance. The Narrows, one of the most famous hikes in the park through a slot canyon in the Virgin River, may or may not be open in April depending on the water levels due to the snow melt. This is a rather strenuous hike with extended periods of walking, wading, and sometimes swimming in snowmelt water with the bottom of the river being composed of a large mossy stones. Many people describe this hike is trying to walk and keep your balance on slippery, wet bowling balls. Check the national park website to see if the Narrows will be open when you plan on taking a trip. Of course, one of the most famous hikes in the park is Angels Landing. This strenuous hike brings you to the top of a huge rock formation that gives you amazing views. The chain section of this hike has huge heights exposure as the trail is narrow with a steep cliff on one side and only a chain against the wall for you to hold onto. Further along the hike to Angels Landing there are cliffs on both sides of you. This hike is incredibly treacherous and many people have died here due to falls. Despite the risk, those who do this hike safely are in for a real treat. The views from the top are simply remarkable. If you want to do this hike but aren’t sure if you want to do it on your own or if you’ll be able to get permits, you can book a trip with Wildland Trekking. We’ll will provide permits for you along with an expert guide who has done the trek before and knows all the safety information.

Inn-based tours are a great option for early spring, where you will experience the best of Zion, Grand-Staircase Escalante, and/or Bryce Canyon on day hikes with a local and knowledgeable guide, before going back to an exceptional lodge. These trips take care of all the planning, accommodations and meals, so you can enjoy your trip without any of the stress that comes with planning a National Park vacation. Camping tours are another wonderful option for seeing much of Zion and nearby Snow Canyon. Appropriate gear, including tents, sleeping bags, trekking poles, daypacks, and all meals are provided by the company. And day hikes are great for those who want to maximize their time in park, while gaining knowledge from a local and experienced guide.

Angels Landing Day Hike Tours (Permits Included)

 

backpacking in april

Zion in April canyon pools tree desert Zion is a world class backpacking destination and April is the first time of the year when backpacking begins to become accessible to everyone with summer gear. Due to the somewhat unpredictable weather in April, it’s possible that you’ll find winter-like conditions at higher elevations along with cold temperatures at night. But it is unlikely to run into significant winter weather. This makes backpacking much easier as you do not have to worry about having winter gear and experience. Visitors should be advised, however, that Zion has different and stricter regulations on backpacking compared to other national parks. It’s important to know the backpacking regulations that Zion has and to abide by them for the health of the environment and you safety. Most areas of Zion require backpackers to camp in pre-designated sites. This includes along the Narrows, which are an option to backpack if they are open, where there are 12 designated sites along the river. Kolob Arch via La Verkin Creek Trail is another great option to escape some of the crowds. Talk to a ranger or to others who have backpacked on their own for more trail recommendations for the park. Zion has a strict pack-it-in, pack-it-out rule that includes all trash as well as human waste. Backpacking in April is definitely more comfortable than it is earlier in the year, when winter weather was a threat. But Zion’s desert environment is still unforgiving to those in the back country as flash floods, hypothermia, wildlife, adverse weather and heavy rain, and the lack of drinkable water can all pose threats to backpackers.

Backpackers still need to be aware of the dangers of hypothermia and not to take this condition lightly because spring has arrived. Hypothermia can occur when the temperature is above 40°F and it can get well below this temperature at night in the spring. The best way to prevent this condition is to dress in layers; if you only bring your ski jacket, you’re going to be too warm most of the time but too cold if you take it off. You will also need a low rated sleeping bag and a good three season tent to withstand the cold as well as any rain that you might encounter. Campfires are not allowed anywhere in the park, so you cannot rely on the fire to warm yourself up. If you are hiking in the river or one of your party falls in a river, get them out of their wet clothes immediately and into warm and dry ones. Immersion in cold water is the quickest way to contracting hypothermia. An additional threat that at time of writing is the presence of toxic cyanobacteria in many of the parks water sources. The toxin from this bacteria can be contracted through ingesting the water or in recreation through any opening in the skin. No known commercial filter is capable of removing the toxin effectively. Those traveling in the rivers should not submerge their head in the water, and if you have to filter water in the back country to drink, do it directly from a spring, not from any rivers or streams. Cyanotoxin toxin can lead to serious illness and death if not treated properly. Check the national park website for current updates on cyanobacteria toxin.

Weather in April

Zion is a large park with various locations and elevations that make weather patterns change from day to day. But typically in April, spring is in the air, and warmer temperatures follow. Some years, April can bring it with it more winter-like weather than visitors would like, but this typically only happens at higher elevations and is seldom. The average temperature for Zion Canyon in April is a high of 73, and a low of 43 degrees Fahrenheit (23/6 degrees Celsius). In Kolob Canyons, the average temperature is a high of 61, and a low of 38 degrees Fahrenheit (16/3 degrees Celsius). On average, it rains 6 days during the month of April. Visitors should keep in mind that these temperatures are only averages and that the park can have much warmer or much colder temperatures in this.

Visitors should always be prepared for the worst weather they might encounter, and in April in Zion, that’s heavy rain. Make sure to bring your rain jacket and have a back up plan for what you want to do during the day if it ends up raining. The Narrows may or may not be closed due to higher water levels because of rain and snow melt. If they are closed, do not attempt to hike them as this is for your safety. Immersion in cold water is the quickest way to contract hypothermia, which is still a major threat with temperatures in the low 40s and high 30s at night. Make sure everyone in your party knows the symptoms of this condition that causes confusion and recklessness, making it difficult to recognize in yourself. Flash flooding is also a concern in Zion all times of the year, but also in April due to rainfall. Flashlfloods can happen due to rain storms a mile away while it is sunny overhead where you are hiking. Slot canyons are particularly susceptible, and those hiking in them should be aware of the risks they take. Flash floods can move down canyons in walls of water 12 feet or higher and often bring with them boulders, tree trunks, and other large debris. You cannot outrun or outswim a flash flood. If you hear the sound of water roaring upstream, see a change in water color or clarity, or feel rising water levels, seek higher ground immediately; even a few feet may save your life. Zion has serious weather events that often happen in April, but understanding the risks is the first step in preventing an accident. Make sure you do your research (like reading this page) and do your best to know how to make your trip safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Wildlife in April

Coyote Zion in April wildlife dog April is a great time to view wildlife in the Zion as the springtime and warmer temperatures have brought new life and new activity to the park. Keep an eye out for the park’s bigger animals, mule deer and bighorn sheep, during this time of year. Bighorn sheep can often be seen on Zion’s east side where they amble across the rocky and steep terrain. You might even be able to catch a glimpse of some lambs that are usually born from mid January to the end of April. Mule deer aren’t quite as sure footed and can be seen in the meadows grazing and sometimes in the campgrounds. April is too early to see mule deer fawns, but you will see male mule deer beginning to sprout antlers for the season. They shed these antlers every winter and regrow them in the spring. You might also notice that some of the mule deer seem emancipated and starving; this is due to two factors, the first of which is that some of the deer are deprived of nutrient rich vegetation during the winter and have not had ample food. In addition to this, it is during spring that mule deer shed their gray winter fur in favor of their brown summer coat. This can sometimes make them look more straggly and sick than they would otherwise. It is important to never approach any of the wildlife in the park and drive slowly to avoid collisions with animals. The park also has opportunities to see some of the more elusive animals that call this area of the country home. Gray fox, coyote, bobcat, and mountain lions are the main predators in the park. Foxes and coyotes are sometimes seen at night running across the road or caught in the beam of a campers headlamp, but the two feline members of the group of predators in Zion are very elusive and seldom seen. If you’re in one of the cool slot canyons, keep your eye out for the nesting site of a monogamous pair of Mexican spotted owls that breed in these naturally air-conditioned canyons. These threatened owls are beautiful to see and are often roosting during the sunlight hours up in the trees before swooping down on their prey, usually rodents, around dusk. Another famous avian resident of the part is the California condor, the largest bird native to North America. With a wingspan that can reach up to 9 1/2 feet, these birds are truly majestic to see and are often sighted riding warm thermal air rising from the canyon. Most of the condors in the park are tagged with number tags on their wings for identification. Brought back from the brink of extinction through captive breeding programs, condors have recently been re-introduced to the park and are still closely monitored. If you’re interested in seeing a specific animal, talk to a ranger about the best time of day and the best place to see one. You can also ask about what has lately been caught on remote, motion sensor cameras to see what’s lurking just out of sight.

Recommended Wildland trips in april

Zion in April guided hike tour campPlanning a trip to Zion in April can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a headache as you have to keep up with current conditions, best accommodations, and figure out what activities you want to do to avoid the crowds. While some of planning out your own itinerary can be rewarding, you might also miss some golden opportunities because you didn’t come across them in your research. But you can bypass all the headache by booking a trip with Wildland Trekking and letting one of our expert guides show you around. All our trips are all inclusive and our guides will take care of all the details, meal prep, and safety information so that you can relax and enjoy your vacation. Whether you want to camp with us, stay at a lodge on an inn based tour, or just spend a single day with one of our expert guides showing you around, we have something for you. Feel free to check out all the trips we offer in Zion, but here are a few we especially recommend for April.

Zion and Bryce 4-Day Tour: Explore the highlights of these 2 staple national parks in Utah on this 4 today inn based tour with Wildland Trekking. Experience the parks on hand-picked trails each day before returning to your cozy lodge in the evening to relax or look at the days pictures. All inclusive with all your meals, local transportation, accommodations, and an expert guide included, you won’t want to miss this amazing adventure.

Angels Landing Private Day Hike: if you were looking to do the Angels Landing hike but don’t want to deal with the hassle of permits or don’t think you have the hiking expertise to go on your own, then this is the trip for you. Experience Zion’s most iconic hike with an expert guide who is well-versed in all of the safety information you will need. Plus, we provide the permits for you, so no waiting until midnight when permits for your date open to click the button and hope for the best. We’ll do it all as well as providing tasty trail snacks and a picnic lunch to eat on top of the world.

Zion in a Day Private Tour: Due to the density of national parks in the area, some people only have one day to spend at Zion. But that’s ok because on this trip you’ll get to see the highlights of the park in a single day. You can expect 3 to 4 shorter day hikes in distinct areas of the park all interspersed with natural and cultural history as well as tasty trail snacks and a picnic lunch. With the included use of top-of-the-line backpacks and hiking poles and a fantastic guide to show you around for the day, this day trip is one that you won’t want to miss.

Join a Guided Hiking Adventure

Zion National Park is home to some of the most epic and amazing hiking vacations in the world. Wildland Trekking offers trips with the best of Zion: canyons, views, wildlife, solitude, adventure and fascinating natural and cultural interpretation.

Guided Zion treks are all-inclusive which covers permits; local transportation (excluded on certain tours); meals; equipment; safety systems and professional hiking/wilderness guides; all of which allows visitors to maximize their time in Zion and focus entirely on enjoying the Park.

ZION ADVENTURE TOURS

  • INN-BASED HIKING PACKAGES: these tours are all-inclusive packages with lodging, amazing daily hikes, expert guides, meals, transportation and more!
  • ZION CAMPING TOURS: camping-based hiking packages provide all-around hiking experiences of Zion on wonderful outdoor vacations.
  • ZION DAY HIKE TOURS: maximize your day in Zion on a fully guided, award-winning hiking tour on one of the Park’s best trails.
  • ALL UTAH HIKING TOURS: check out a full list of Utah offerings, which include Bryce Canyon, the North Rim, Arches, Canyonlands and more.
  • UTAH BACKPACKING TRIPS: explore options for discovering Utah on an all-inclusive backpacking trip with expert guides and mind-blowing scenery.