Zion national park is a stunning sight in the fall, with its warm colors matching the vibrant canyon walls. Even though the park is quite stunning in the fall, is October actually a good time to visit?
We have visited Zion NP over 40 times as we lived nearby for many years. That’s why we are able to provide you with unique information and tips about:
- The weather in October
- What you should wear and pack!
- How busy is it?
- Hiking the Narrows in October (is it too cold/do you need dry pants?)
- Parking options (important!) and the shuttle service
Every one of the above questions is answered within this unique guide.
Make sure to check the tours above for an amazing experience with the best friendly guides. However, you are free to explore everything on your own, of course.
Is October a Good Time to Visit?
Zion National Park is located in a beautiful desert-scape, which means temperatures can grow quite harsh during the summer months. Yet, the summer seems to be the most popular time to visit. But what about the cooler months like October? Is October a good time to visit Zion?
October is a very good time to visit Zion National Park. This is because there are fewer visitors during the fall, so you will better be able to hike while escaping the excessive crowds of the summer months. October is also cooler, which makes many of the hikes more enjoyable.
Fall Colors: You’ll also be able to see the leaves changing during October in Zion National Park, as it is the most prominent period for fall colors in the park. The leaves start turning at high elevations early in the month and are finally visible at lower elevations in Zion Canyon in the last week of October.
Parking: Another thing that makes October a great time to visit Zion is that there is more parking available due to the decrease in visitors. Parking in Springdale (the town right outside of Zion) can be a nightmare during the busy season, and parking inside of the park is almost always completely full.
Make sure to check our parking and shuttle tips at the end of the article and our complete guide with the best times to visit Zion National Park.
Next, we will be discussing the weather in the park during October and the experiences we had during this month. Zion is located within Southern Utah, which is known to have dry, warm temperatures. But what about during the fall months? What is the weather like?
The weather in October in Zion National Park is typically pleasant, not being too warm or cold. Daily temperatures tend to fall around 82°F (28°C) during the warmest part of the day and around 43°F (6°C) in the evenings. Rain is quite unlikely, with an average of 0.8 inches.
Average high temps overview during the month:
- Early October: 82°F (28°C)
- Mid-October: 75°F (24°C)
- Late October: 68°C (20°C)
It’s important to note that temperatures in the park can vary by up to 30°F. The temperature may also drastically change based on your location within Zion, elevation, and the time of day you are exploring.
For example, Angels Landing has an elevation of 5,790 ft (1765 m), so the temperatures up there will most likely vary by 3-5 degrees. It’s also important to note that depending on the time of day, the switchbacks of this hike are shaded, making it feel even cooler.
Mornings inside the park in October tend to be brisk at about 55°F (13°C) until about 1:00 PM. Once the canyon receives full sun, the park quickly warms up. However, you may still find yourself a little chilly when hiking the canyon with little sun.
Midday and Evening
Midday in the park is typically pleasantly warm, around 71°F (22°C). This makes it an excellent time to hike without being too cold or hot. Day hikes are preferred if you plan to hike one of Zion’s many water hikes, such as The Narrows or Emerald Pools, as these hikes can be a bit colder due to their location and the icy water.
The evening temperature in Zion National Park can plummet quite quickly, reaching as low as 56°F (13°C). As a result, the nightly temperatures in the park can vary by about 3-5 degrees.
Another factor that can affect the temperature inside Zion National Park in October is the time of the month you are visiting.
Within the first week of October, we tend to see higher temperatures during the sunlight hours, typically around 82°F (28°C). At the same time of the month, temperatures will also reach a low of about 53°F (12°C).
During mid-October, temperatures begin to drop ever so slightly, reaching about 75°F (24°C) during the day and 48°F (9°C) while the sun is down. It’s essential to remember that Zion is located within a desert climate, which means it doesn’t retain as much heat when the sun goes down.
Late October typically brings weather that is a bit cooler, with high temperatures of about 68°F (20°C) and low temperatures of around 43°F (6°C). However, if you want to go on some of Zion’s more strenuous hikes, late October is a great time, especially if you are doing a hike like Angels Landing or the overlook trail.
As for snow during October, you will likely not have to worry about poor weather. Snow is quite rare in Southern Utah and will typically fall during the months between November and January.
As for rain, Zion’s rainfall prediction in October stands at about 0.8 inches (20.32 mm) for the month. While you may encounter some rainfall during October, it will not be heavy and should subside relatively quickly. Also, with Zion being located in such a drought-heavy area, rain does not regularly occur.
When it does, it’s essential to take precautions when hiking, such as avoiding slot canyons. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to speak with a park ranger about the weather.
How Busy Is Zion in October?
Zion is a bucket list destination, so it makes sense to want to choose the perfect month for your trip. So, just how busy will the park be in October?
October in Zion is less busy than during the peak times in the summer and late spring. Typically, the park sees over 400,000 visitors in the month of October. It is still a good time to visit to avoid crowds. However, the park is still busy compared to the winter months.
Popular hikes like Angel’s Landing will be busy on the weekends, but the crowds will be smaller during the week.
If you want to avoid the crowds on weekends, you can either hike out of Kolob Canyon or just head further from the main canyon. The further you go, the fewer people you will see.
Recommended Tours for October
UTV Ride & Hike: This is a thrilling adventure with an off-road UTV ride and a guided hike with amazing guides. TIP: This tour is perfect if you plan to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon. It starts from East Zion/Orderville, which is right between both parks (Orderville, Utah – Google Maps Location). Check the best hotels here (via Expedia): Hotel Deals Orderville (East Zion)
The Narrows (Guided Hike with Experts): If you have always wanted to hike the iconic Narrows and are worried about gear, what to pack (dry pants or not), or safety, we can offer you a truly unique experience with amazing guides (starts in Springdale, the town right outside the Zion entrance. Check below for accommodation tips ↓).
Where to Stay and How Many Days
You should spend at least 2 full days (better 3 days) in Zion to do the most popular hikes (Angel’s Landing, The Narrows) and a scenic drive.
Tip: To avoid the high rates for the Zion Lodge inside the park, stay in Springdale (closest town – hotel deals via booking.com) and take the very first town shuttle in the morning to Zion NP. It stops at 9 locations in Springdale to pick you up. Springdale is located right outside the Zion park entrance.
What to Wear
Now, let’s discuss what you should wear when visiting Zion National Park during the month of October.
In Zion National Park in October, you should wear clothing with layers. This is because the temperatures during the day drastically change. Pack a light beanie, long pants, a light jacket, and hiking boots.
Depending on how much sun the hike you are on gets, you may be cold. Therefore, it’s best to have that light jacket and maybe some gloves that can easily be removed if you get too warm.
Here’s what you should pack to wear to hike in Zion National Park:
- A light beanie: The cold temperatures in the early mornings and evenings can quickly make your ears feel cold, and a hat is a great way to combat the frigid air.
- Long pants: Wearing long pants is best because they help insulate you from the chilly air in the mornings or cooler portions of the canyon. They can also help to protect you from the sun on warmer October days.
- A light jacket: The temperatures in October aren’t particularly freezing, but the earlier portions of the day can feel quite chilly. However, as the sun rises, the temperature in the canyon will quickly change, making a layer you can easily remove an ideal option.
- Gloves: The gloves don’t have to be heavy-duty, but it’s a good idea to wear a pair so that your fingers don’t end up too cold, especially if you are planning on hiking any of the shadier canyons.
- Hiking boots: Your hiking boots should come up around your ankle. The rocks on many of the trails are easy to twist your ankles on and can result in injuries without the proper shoes. These boots will keep your feet warm and protected from the elements.
- Good Socks: Socks with extra padding are ideal as you want to do your best to prevent unwanted blisters. You will also want to keep your feet warm, especially if you plan a shady hike.
During October, the temperatures can significantly vary throughout the month, which is why layers are essential while visiting. Plus, there are many water hikes in Zion and a few that are entirely shaded throughout the day, such as Hidden Canyon.
It’s important to note that you will want to pack warmer layers if you are visiting during late October. This is because winter is starting, and the temperatures are preparing to drop significantly. Meanwhile, in early October, the temperatures are still transitioning from summer to fall.
Again, you will also want to plan on layering if you are choosing hikes with higher elevations, such as Angels Landing, as the temperatures that high will typically drop by 3-5 degrees.
If you are visiting the park to hike The Subway, you will need different gear. This hike is quite serious and requires prior canyoneering experience and a permit to hike.
People hiking The Subway will need:
- Large backpack
- Repelling gear
- Wet suits
- Hiking boots
- Plenty of layers
This hike can be pretty chilly since it’s in a canyon full of water. So, it’s best to pack many layers and come prepared to accomplish this 5-9 hour hike.
What you will need to pack for hiking the narrows is similar to The Subway hike. However, the narrows require far less skill to hike.
What to pack when hiking the narrows:
- A wetsuit (recommended)
- Waterproof shoes
- Hiking sticks
The water levels in the narrows during October are typically lower, only reaching mid-calf in most places. However, some areas can reach much deeper, so wearing a wetsuit is a good idea, especially if you wish to retain your body heat during the hike.
💡 Read our tips for the Narrows below for more details about a dry suit/wetsuit.
You should also have good shoes, as this hike is quite slippery—you can easily sprain an ankle without the proper gear.
Hiking the Narrows in October
When visiting Zion National Park hiking the Narrows is a must-see. The stunning canyon rising over your head and river are breathtaking.
The Narrows in October are less packed and easier to hike due to the lower water levels. The complete hike takes about 6 hours to complete and can be strenuous as you navigate over slippery rocks hidden beneath a steady stream of water. Furthermore, during October, the water will be pretty cold.
Do you need dry pants in October? It depends. We hiked the Narrow once in early October. The guys at Zion Adventure in Springdale said that we probably wouldn’t need them at that time. However, I took them, and my partner didn’t. As we started very early, it was quite chilly, and she got cold without the pants. Not unbearable but not comfortable either.
Others we saw just wore shorts and the Canyon Shoes you rent from Zion Adventures.
So, it depends on the time, early or late October, and if you get cold easily. From mid-October until the end of the month, you will probably need them.
Good to know: You don’t have to hike the complete 6 hours. Especially if you get cold or for other reasons, you can always turn back in the Narrows.
Renting gear: You can rent the Narrows dry pants package, the special shoes, and other gear at Zion Adventures in Springdale. Just give them a call and ask for advice, as it depends on the weather and temps: 435-772-1001.
Crowds: The crowds at The Narrows tend to be fewer in the earlier hours of the morning. This is due to the colder temperatures. Also, the further you hike in, the fewer people you will find. However, hiking the entire hike can be exhausting, so many hikers drop out early and don’t continue.
Road Openings and Closures | Driving
During October, the roads are open, and there are no significant closures, provided no recent rockslide has occurred.
That being said, you cannot drive your vehicle through the park in October. Instead, you will be required to park and take the shuttle through Zion unless you are just passing through the park. However, it’s nice as you can stop and check things out at any of the stops.
You are still able to drive up to Kolob Canyon and Mt. Carmel with your personal vehicle, but it isn’t quite the same as the drive up Zion Canyon.
Knowing where you can park in Zion National Park is essential. Basically, there are two options:
- Parking inside Zion near the Visitor Center: There are designated parking areas close to the visitor center: Google Maps – Zion National Park Visitor Park. However, the parking space is limited, and it’s usually full by 8 or 9 AM. Even outside peak season in October, it fills up early.
- Parking in Springdale (Google Maps Location): This town is right at the entrance of Zion N.P. We recommend parking in the town and then using the Springdale shuttle (see below), which takes you to the park within a few minutes.
If you stay at least one or two nights, which we recommend, then parking in Springdale at your hotel is the best and most comfortable option, as you can easily enter the park via the Springdale shuttle.
Parking anywhere in Springdale: If you don’t stay at a hotel, please keep in mind that there is a charge for street parking within the town. However, the pay stub for parking there can not be used as a park entrance ticket.
Shuttle Services | Operating Times
The most popular method of transportation in Zion National Park is the shuttle system. There are two types of shuttles:
- Springdale Shuttle: This shuttle takes you to the entrance of Zion National Park. It runs throughout Springdale and stops at 9 locations in the town. Very comfortable to use if you stay in Springdale and/or park there (see above). After getting into the park via this shuttle, you can then continue with the …
- Canyon Shuttle, which runs through the entire park, stopping at each hike.
Both shuttle services are free.
Operating Times: The canyon shuttle and the Springdale shuttle are typically active every day in October unless otherwise stated. You can typically catch a shuttle ride from 7 AM until 8:15 PM. It’s important to note that once the last shuttle leaves, there will not be another one until the next day.
If the shuttles are shut down for whatever reason, the park will permit you to drive through the canyon and park at your desired hike.