Zion National Park welcomes thousands of visitors every single month. While the very point of any national park is for visitors to have a chance to explore the wilderness and each park’s natural wonders, it is far from a free-for-all. There is a long list of rules and laws in place that help park officials manage crowds, create order, and minimize the impact of tourism on the natural resources. Zion is no exception.
Hitting the Trails on a Bicycle
Unless you’re on a paved park roadway or the Pa’rus Trail, you need to be on your own two feet. Riding bicycles, scooters, off-road vehicles, or any other vehicles is illegal on all trails in the park. Ebikes are now allowed on park roadways and the Pa’rus Trail, but like other types of vehicles, are not permitted on any trails, even if they are used for mobility reasons.
While all park roadways are open to bikes, even when the Zion Canyon Shuttle is running, you can’t ride through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. Instead, park officials advise bikers to hitchhike for a ride with a visitor vehicle that can hold your bicycle. It might seem like odd advice, but the danger of riding a bicycle through the long, dark, crowded tunnel is simply too dangerous to risk.
Camping Overnight in Your Vehicle Outside of a Campground
The recent trend of camping in beautiful locations in a remodeled camper van may have inspired a new generation to discover our nation’s national parks. But if you plan to visit the park in one, don’t assume that you’ll be able to park it and sleep wherever you’d like.
Parking and sleeping in pullouts or parking lots anywhere in the park is always prohibited. There are three campgrounds in the park, including Watchman, South, and Lava Point. Backpackers can also get a Wilderness Permit to camp in designated Zion Wilderness locations. However, overnight accommodations and permits fill up fast, especially from April to October.
Take a drive through St. George or Springdale, and you’ll notice plenty of advertisements for off-road tours. But don’t make the mistake of thinking these tours will take you into the park.
Off-roading of any kind is illegal in Zion National Park, even on structured tours. Luckily, you can still explore the surrounding landscape on a tour. If you have your own off-road vehicle, consider a side trip to the nearby Sand Hollow State Park, which is situated next to a massive federal reserve that allows off-road vehicles.
Bringing Fido Along
While he may be man’s best friend, your beloved pet isn’t Zion’s best friend. Pets may disturb plantlife or threaten wildlife. For that reason, pets are not allowed on any trails in the park, with the exception of the Pa’rus Trail.
You can walk your dog along public roads, have them in campgrounds and picnic areas, and walk them around the grounds of Zion Lodge. So if you’re just planning a quick day trip, bring your pup along! Pets are not allowed on the Zion Canyon Shuttle, so it may be best to visit during the off-season if you do want to bring your pet along. You also need to keep your pet on a leash that’s less than 6-feet long at all times and clean up all waste.
Feeding or Petting Wildlife
This law should be common sense. But the fact that some of Zion’s wildlife has become de-sensitized to humans proves that many tourists still choose to get too close. Feeding, petting, or otherwise harassing any wildlife in the park is illegal.
This isn’t just to protect the wildlife; it’s for our protection as well. Many animals carry disease or may become violent when threatened.
Flying a Drone
That shiny new drone that you got for Christmas might seem like the perfect way to check out Zion from a whole new angle. But if you choose to fly it over the park, you could be hit with a heavy fine and even jail time.
This isn’t just Zion’s law. The National Park Service prohibits launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft in or over any national park site. Break this law, and you may face up to 6 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Hiking with a Large Group
This is more of a rule than a law. Either way, hitting the trail with more than 11 of your closest friends isn’t allowed in the park. This anti-group law is designed to cut down on crowding and minimize the disturbance to other guests.
Staying Legal in the Parks
These are far from the only rules and laws you need to follow during your visit to Zion National Park.
Planning to hike The Narrows on your visit? You might be interested to know that hiking the full length of the trail once involved some trespassing. Click here to learn more.