How to Prepare for a Day of Hiking in Zion

Remember the Boy Scout motto? Be prepared! This sage wisdom applies to all aspects of life, but it especially applies to folks who are looking to have the adventure of a lifetime at Zion National Park. Here is some of our best advice to ensure you have the most fun and safest trip possible when hiking in Zion.

Essentials to Pack:

Food: Depending on the length and strenuousness of the hikes you’re doing, you’ll want to pack a lunch or snacks. If you’re doing short, easy hikes, pack hearty snacks like pretzels, fruit, nuts or granola bars.

Shoes: No matter what season, rain or shine, sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with proper ankle support are an absolute necessity. They’ll protect your feet from sharp rocks, stray cactus quills, and give you the traction you need to prevent stumbles along the trail. Many hikes in Zion overlook canyons and have steep drop-offs, so you’ll want to be as surefooted as possible.

For longer day-long hikes, we recommend packing a lunch with lightweight but nutrient-dense food. Some of our favorite items to pack include a box lunch from Zion Ponderosa’s Narrows coffee bar, bananas or apples, and trail mix. We also recommend keeping a few protein bars on hand for a calorie-dense snack later in the day.

Water: No matter how short or easy the hike, it’s essential to stay properly hydrated when hiking in Zion. A good rule of thumb is to bring 32 ounces (one liter) of water for every two hours of moderate activity. Adjust this amount depending on the weather —you may need to double your water if it’s hot out, if you’re hiking at a high elevation, or if the hike is strenuous.

Sun Protection: Bring plenty of sunscreen (minimum SPF 30) and a wide-brimmed hat. Don’t forget to bring polarized sunglasses for eye protection. The Utah sun is very strong, and you will get burned if you’re not careful. Reapply sunscreen every few hours for optimal skin protection.

Useful Gear:

Waterproof Gear: If you want to tackle the famous Narrows hike, you’ll need a bit of extra gear. Depending on the time of year, we recommend renting waders and neoprene shoes to hike the Narrows. If you want to bring your phone, camera, or anything that could be ruined by water, consider buying or renting a waterproof case or backpack your items.

Day Pack: For regular day hikes, you’ll want to make sure you have a lightweight and comfortable daypack that fits all of your essentials. For those who want to get high-tech, consider purchasing a CamelBak so you can comfortably carry a large volume of water along with your other essentials.

Portable Phone Charger: A charged cellphone to use to call for help is one of the most important things you can have if you get stranded in the wilderness. Better safe than sorry.

Check out our packing list here.

Safety Tips:

Buddy System: Whether you’re hiking solo or in with a buddy, be sure to let a friend or family member know where you’re going, when you’re leaving, and when you expect to be back.

Plan Ahead: Double-check the trail route and potential trail closures using the Zion National Park website, or by using an app like AllTrails. Although Zion is filled with thousands of people daily, hikers can still get stranded. Always make sure you know where the trail is headed and choose a hike that is within your fitness level and abilities. Be sure to stop by our Adventure Desk and ask our on-property guide company East Zion Adventures for hiking recommendations.

Zion Crest Campground guests can also access amazing hikes right from Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. Two of the most popular hikes across our property include Observation Point and Cable Mountain. Learn more.