Visiting Zion in April
Learn all about what to expect visiting Zion National Park in April
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 quickly and cleanly, and wildlife is frolicking in the warm sun. There are many benefits to visiting Zion in April, as well as some drawbacks. If you can visit the park in April, you will have a fantastic trip and leave with an appreciation for the beauty and magnitude of Zion.
Benefits of Visiting Zion in April
The biggest benefit of visiting Zion in April is the breathtaking scenery. Zion’s classic red, pink, and cream rocks contrasted against the lush green cottonwoods, junipers, grasses, and other plants are simply stunning. As the snow melts at high elevations, 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 genuinely breathtaking in Zion in the spring. The lighting of early spring can create marvelous sunrises and sunsets, and it is a great time of year for photography. Wildlife is 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, and some of the larger animals will be 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 hiking is more accessible and is ideal. 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 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 requires permits, and they can be very competitive to get, so make sure you plan and do your research or book a guided trip with Wildlands.
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.
The weather can be unpredictable in April. While it will always be better than winter, April can still see snow at higher elevations making trails inaccessible without winter gear. Rain is common, and high snowmelt levels cause rivers and streams to 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 cannot drive your private vehicle through the canyon this time of year. You will have to take shuttle buses past Canyon Junction, which can create a more confined schedule.
Here are some tips to avoid the crowds during this popular season:
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. On the other hand, Kolob Canyons are in a more isolated area of the park, provide incredible and unique views, and are much less traveled.
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 ideal in April. With trails ranging from easy to strenuous, there is something for everyone in Zion National Park, allowing visitors to experience the park 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 a great option to see the trailhead of the Narrows, a 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 uncomfortable doing this hike or if it has already closed for spring, the Riverwalk hike brings you to the trailhead of the Narrows. It lets you experience some of that slot canyon feeling as the canyon walls get narrower and narrower.
Angels Landing will 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. Ensure you know the backpack regulations and understand the risks of this activity.
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.
Visiting Kolob canyons in the park’s northwest corner 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. Many other national parks, such as Bryce Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante, also make great day trips from Zion.
Wildlife viewing is another popular activity in April, as you are more likely to see newborn animals. 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 are 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.
things to see in april
There 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 many things to see in Zion in April, but we’ve compiled a short list of some 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 park’s northwestern corner, 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 relatively 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 hiking at all, the Big Bend shuttle stop on the canyon floor offers fantastic views from below.
Zion Human History Museum: If the crowds on the trails are becoming too cumbersome or the weather turns downward 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 impacted this area, both as a creator and destroyer.
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 ranging from easy to moderate to strenuous, all ages and levels of ability can enjoy hiking in Zion. Make sure you read the current conditions for up-to-date information.
Many easy hikes provide wonderful views of Zion. The Riverwalk–which leads you to the very trailhead 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 part– are both great options and relatively easy and short. The Emerald Pools trail 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 large mossy stones. Many people describe this hike as 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.
Perhaps the most famous hike 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 height 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. 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, as the views from the top are 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 provide permits for you and 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 returning to an exceptional lodge. These trips take care of all the planning, accommodations, and meals, so you can enjoy your trip without the stress of planning a National Park vacation. Camping tours are another wonderful option for seeing much of Zion and nearby Snow Canyon. The company provides appropriate gear, including tents, sleeping bags, trekking poles, daypacks, and all meals. And day hikes are great for those who want to maximize their time in the park while gaining knowledge from a local and experienced guide.
backpacking in april
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.
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. Zion has a strict pack-it-in, pack-it-out rule that includes all trash as well as human waste. Campfires are not allowed anywhere in the park, so you cannot rely on the fire to warm up. Backpacking in April is more comfortable than it is earlier in the year when winter weather is a threat. But Zion’s desert environment is still unforgiving to those in the backcountry, as flash floods, hypothermia, wildlife, adverse weather, heavy rain, and the lack of drinkable water can all pose threats to backpackers.
Weather in April
Zion is a large park with various locations and elevations that change weather patterns daily. Spring is in the air in April, and warmer temperatures follow. Some years, April can bring more winter-like weather than visitors would like, but this is rare and only happens at higher elevations. 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 six days during the month of April. Visitors should remember that these temperatures are only averages and that the park can have much warmer or 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 backup 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 at all times of the year and in April due to rainfall. Flash floods 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 happening in April, and understanding the risks is the first step in preventing an accident.
Wildlife in April
April is a great time to view wildlife in Zion, as the springtime and warmer temperatures have brought new life and new activity to the park. During this time of year, keep an eye out for the park’s bigger animals, mule deer and bighorn sheep. Bighorn sheep are often 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 emaciated and starving due to two factors: some deer are deprived of nutrient-rich vegetation during the winter and have not had ample food, and during spring, mule deer shed their gray winter fur in favor of their brown summer coat.
Gray foxes, coyotes, bobcats, 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 often roost 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
Planning a trip to Zion in April can be a rewarding experience. Still, 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 headaches 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 spend a day with one of our expert guides, 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 Utah’s two staple national parks on this four 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 day’s 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 are 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 the safety. Plus, we provide the permits for you, so there is no waiting until midnight when permits for your date open to click the button and hope for the best. We’ll do it all and provide 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, interspersed with natural and cultural history, 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, 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 world’s most epic and fantastic hiking vacations. 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 specific tours); meals; equipment; safety systems, and professional hiking/wilderness guides; all of which allow 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 complete 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.