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Zion vs Grand Canyon – Which is the better national park

Zion vs Grand Canyon is another tough choice, for both are marvelous natural must-visit wonders. 

Zion National Park, located in southern Utah, is known for its stunning rock formations, narrow slot canyons and diverse wildlife.

Known for its colorful and layered rock formations, the Grand Canyon is a massive gorge carved by the Colorado River in northern Arizona. 

In this article, we will compare and contrast Zion National Park vs Grand Canyon to help you make an informed choice between the two!

Things to do in Grand Canyon

Get your backpacks ready for

Grand Canyon National Park

Location 

The Grand Canyon is in northern Arizona. 

The Grand Canyon North Rim and South Rim are approximately 215 miles (346 km) and 355 miles (571 km) from Salt Lake City, Utah, respectively.

Zion National Park is located in southern Utah, covering an area of approximately 229 square miles (593 square kilometers).

Zion National Park from Grand Canyon

Zion National Park is located east of the Grand Canyon in the southwestern region of the United States. 

The distance between the two parks is approximately 160 miles (260 kilometers).

Driving from the Grand Canyon to Zion would take about two to five hours.

The driving distance from Zion to Grand Canyon rims is listed below:

Grand Canyon RimDistance From ZionTime required
North Rim110 miles2 hours
South Rim255 miles4.5 hours
East Rim108 miles2 hours
West Rim289 miles5 hours

Remoteness – Zion vs Grand Cayon – Which is easy to access?

Zion National Park Remoteness
Image: Nps.gov

While comparing the remoteness of Grand Canyon National Park vs Zion National Park, you will observe that they offer different experiences. 

The Grand Canyon though relatively remote, is accessible by car, bus or plane and has a visitor center, lodges and other amenities. 

The Zion National Park is easily accessible, with the main entrance at Highway 9, about 2.5 hours from Las Vegas and 4.5 hours from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Opening time

Zion Grand Canyon Opening time
Image: Nps.gov

If you plan to visit Zion or Grand Canyon, it is essential to know their opening time. 

Zion National Park’s visitor center and shuttle system operates from early March through late November. 

The park is open 24 hours a day, but some facilities and trails may have different hours of operation.

The Grand Canyon is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but some facilities and services have seasonal operating hours. 

The South Rim Visitor Center opens daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and the North Rim Visitor Center is open from mid-May through mid-October from 10 am to 4 pm.

Learn more about Grand Canyon opening hours and seasons for a well-planned visit.

Climate – Zion vs Grand Canyon 

Climate – Zion vs Grand Canyon
Image: Nps.gov

The climate is a huge deciding factor in the choice of Grand Canyon vs Zion.

The Grand Canyon is known for its temperature variations and heavy monsoons with thunderstorms. 

During the summer, the max temperature is around 100°F(37°C), while the temperatures can drop below freezing in the winter.

During winters, snowstorms are common in the Northern Rim. 

Zion National Park exhibits a semi-arid climate with hot summers and mild winters.

The average temperature in Zion during the summer months (June to August) being around 90°F to 60°F  (32°C to 15°C). 

In the winter months (December to February), the average temperature is around 50°F to 30°F(10°C to -1°C).

Features- Grand Canyon vs Zion

Zion National Park and Grand Canyon are iconic natural landmarks in the southwestern United States. 

To make the difficult Grand Canyon vs Zion choice, you must know all the features offered by the two iconic tourist attractions. 

Features of Grand Canyon 

Features of Grand Canyon
Image: Doi.gov

The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular wonders of the world, being 277 miles (446 km) in length, 18 miles (29 km) wide and a mile (1.6 km) deep. 

Camping is a popular activity, and the Grand Canyon houses several campgrounds, like the Mather Campground, Trailer Village, and Desert View Campground.

You can witness the famed rock formations in shades of reds, oranges, and purples.

The rock formations are almost 2 billion years old and come in fascinating shapes. 

The myriad of colors on the layers range from deep red to orange to purple and look brilliant during the sunset and sunrise.

You will find the best hiking trails of varying difficulty within the Grand Canyon.

Some of the most famous trials are the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and North Kaibab Trail. 

Activities like white water rafting, kayaking and rafting are popular activities to try at the Colorado river flowing through the canyon. 

There are numerous tour options and take a one-day or multi-day tour to explore the Grand Canyon. 

Features of Zion National Park 

Features of Zion National Park
Image: Wikipedia.org

Zion National Park is known for its magnificent red rock cliffs, narrow slot canyons, and beautiful scenic vistas. 

There are over 90 miles worth of hiking trails, ranging from strolls to challenging multi-day backpacking trips, which take you through the stunning rock formations of Zion. 

Zion is famous for its towering red rock cliffs and canyons, including the famous Angels Landing and The Narrows.

The Zion National Park has many narrow slot canyons, such as The Narrows, carved out of the sandstone rock by water.

The Virgin River flows through the park, creating beautiful natural pools and waterfalls.

Zion is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mule deer, and many species of birds.

Visitors can drive through the park on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Zion National Park has a visitor center where visitors can learn about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife.

Zion vs Grand Canyon – which national park has the best features

Zion National Park vs Grand Canyon, in terms of best features, are quite stunning and offer unique features.

The best features of Zion National Park are its narrow slot canyons, towering sandstone cliffs and numerous hiking trails.

The Grand Canyon hosts several outdoor activities besides hiking, such as swimming, camping, rafting, etc. 

Making the Zion vs Grand Canyon choice depends on your preferences and what you wish to do on your trip. 

Zion vs Grand Cayon – which park has better things to do

The Zion national park and the Grand Canyon are both stunning natural wonders in the United States of America. 

Both offer a range of activities and experiences that will leave you in awe of the natural beauty of these magnificent locations. 

Things to do in Grand Canyon 

The Grand Canyon has many things to do, and there is something for everyone!

Hiking: Grand Canyon houses multiple hiking trails ranging from easy walks to strenuous hikes. 

Some of the best trails are the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and North Kaibab Trail.

River Rafting: White water rafting is a must-try activity if you are visiting the Grand Canyon.

Helicopter Tours: Fly up high and view the Grand Canyon from a bird’s-eye view on a helicopter tour for the best experience. 

Camping: Grand Canyon is the best place to visit if you want unique and unforgettable camping experiences.

Visitors can try tent camping, RV camping, or backcountry camping. 

Also, watch out for their stargazing programs. 

Scenic Drives: Take the most scenic drive at Desert View Drive at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and stop at several viewpoints to enjoy the stunning views. 

There are more activities to try in Grand Canyon, like mule riding, bus tours, volunteer activities, etc. 

Things to do in Zion National Park

Zion National Park offers an array of choices to its visitors. 

Photography: Zion is a photographer’s paradise, with many opportunities to capture stunning landscapes and wildlife.

Rock Climbing: Zion has some of the best challenging routes and incredible views you can experience during rock climbing.

Canyoneering: Explore the narrow slot canyons of Zion by rappelling, hiking, and swimming through them.

Horseback Riding: Take a guided horseback ride through Zion’s backcountry and gain a new perspective of the park’s scenery.

You could try a few more activities, such as hiking, taking scenic drives around the park, stargazing and joining ranger-led programs!

Things to do- Zion vs Grand Canyon

According to the activities of the national park offers, it can take a lot of time to make the Grand Canyon vs Zion choice. 

While Zion is a stunning must-visit place, the list of activities you can do there is quite limited. 

Grand Canyon, however, has something to offer all its visitors- hiking, rafting, camping, swimming etc.

Ultimately, it entirely depends on your personal preferences and interests as to what you choose- Zion or Grand Canyon.

Tours

Zion or Grand Canyon are popular tourist destinations in the United States of America, offering unique experiences to its tourists. 

Private tours are an option for those seeking a personalized and intimate experience with a dedicated tour guide. 

You can visit the Zion or Grand Canyon on a day trip if you are short of time or on a multiday trip for a leisurely experience. 

Several guided tours, including bus, helicopter, and hiking tours, are available. 

Lastly, you can book a combination trip, ensuring you get the best by visiting Zion and Grand Canyon! 

Grand Canyon tours

When you plan to visit the Grand Canyon, book your tickets online in advance. 

Due to limited availability, many tours might require a reservation, especially during peak season. 

Here are some of the best Grand Canyon tour options for you: 
Grand Canyon South Rim Guided Tour
Helicopter Ride and Optional Hummer Tour
Grand Canyon Tour with Lunch & Pickup
Grand Canyon Railway Round Trip

Zion National Park tours 

The Zion National Park is a stunningly narrow slot canyon that covers a vast area. 

On a trip to Zion National Park, you can experience breathtaking canyons, red rock formations, and incredible hiking trails. 

Many tour options are available to visitors who wish to explore the park!

Here are a few tours that we recommend:
East Zion: Crimson Slot Canyon Exploration and UTV tour 
From Las Vegas: Zion National Park Small Group Adventure
The Zion Narrows hike with lunch 
– 1-hour White Mountain Horseback tour 

Combination Tours

If you are traveling from Southern Utah to Grand Canyon’s North Canyon or other Rims, Zion is a fantastic place to visit.

You can tour Zion National Park and Grand Canyon together on a combination tour. 

Combination tours are pretty popular with tourists owing to their hassle-free experience. 

With these Zion and Grand Canyon tours, you do not have to worry about entry tickets, permits and guides.

These tours cover everything from your entry permits to your itinerary.

We recommend you check out these combination tours:
Grand Canyon, Zion and Monument Valley 3-day trip
Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Zion tour 
Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon 3-day tour 
7 Southwest Parks in 3 day 

Expected crowd

The choice of Grand Canyon vs Zion National Park has a significant factor- the expected footfall. 

At the Grand Canyon, you can expect large crowds during the summer (June to August) and national holidays like Labour Day, Memorial Day, etc. 

The crowds thin out during spring (March to May) and fall (September to November).

The Zion National Park can be crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons like summer and holidays.

The park has limited parking capacity, and visitors are encouraged to use the shuttle system to explore the park. 

To avoid crowds, it is recommended to visit the park during non-peak times and weekdays, arrive early in the morning, and consider exploring less popular areas

How to choose between Grand Canyon and Zion National Park

Making the final choice of Zion vs Grand Canyon depends on several factors, including time of visitation, interests and the activities you wish to partake in. 

The Zion National Park is a go-to place for avid rock climbers who want to experience the narrow slot canyon in its glory.

Grand Canyon is your best bet if you like the outdoors and love exploring nature via hiking, camping and rafting.

But there might be a third option if you cannot make the Zion vs Grand Canyon choice- do them both.

Check out combination tours that give you both- the awe-inspiring scenic views of Zion and the thrilling adventurous zeal of the Grand Canyon.

FAQs

1. Which park is better, Zion or Grand Canyon?

Zion National Park vs Grand Canyon is a tough choice to make because both are major bucket list destinations. 

Zion National Park is well-known for its stunning narrow slot canyons and majestic rock formations.

Grand Canyon is equally, if not more stunning, with the mighty Colorado river flowing between the deep layered canyon walls.

Our recommendation? Visit both!

2. Can you do Grand Canyon and Zion in one trip?

Yes, you can visit the Grand Canyon and Zion on one trip. 

Owing to the low driving distance between Grand Canyon and Zion, you can visit both the National Park in one trip.

This trip requires at least 3 or 4 days to cover the major points of Zion and the Grand Canyon.

Here are a few combo tour recommendations for visiting Zion and Grand Canyon in one trip
Grand Canyon, Zion and Monument Valley 3-day trip
Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Zion tour 
Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon 3-day tour 
7 Southwest Parks in 3 day 

3. How far apart are Zion and Grand Canyon?

The distance between the two parks is approximately 160 miles (260 kilometers).

It may take around 3 hours and 30 minutes from the Grand Canyon to Zion.

The Grand Canyon East Rim is closest to Zion and takes 2 hours to reach.

The South Rim is the farthest away from Zion and takes 5 hours to reach.

4. Is it worth visiting Zion National Park?

It is worth visiting Zion National Park as it is an excellent destination for hikers, rock climbers and nature lovers.

You can visit on a short day trip or take a few nights in the park to explore and fully appreciate what Zion offers.

Check out these tour options to make the best of your visit to Zion!

5. Is it worth visiting the Grand Canyon National Park?

Yes, visiting the Grand Canyon is worth it!

With its layered rock formations and the Colorado river flowing through, the Grand Canyon has enough activities for everyone to enjoy its natural beauty.

Check out these few guided tours to make your visit worthwhile and hassle-free!

6. What is the best time of the year to visit Zion and the Grand Canyon?

The best time to visit Zion or Grand Canyon depends on your interests and the activities you wish to do. 

But, on a general note, spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are popular times to visit either Zion or Grand Canyon! 

7. How to get from Zion to Grand Canyon?

The most common route from Zion to Grand Canyon (South Rim) is Highway 9, east of Zion.

From there, take Utah Heritage Highway 89 and then Highway 64 to Grand Canyon.

The most beautiful route to Grand Canyon is through Kanab from 89A to Bitter Springs.

This route goes through the Vermillion Cliffs area.

Featured Image: NPS.gov, Tripadvisor.in

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