Headed on a road trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks? Depending on when you’re going, we wanted to give you a heads up that there’s some areas inside the parks that you won’t be access in a private vehicle, and you’ll want to take a shuttle to reach some of the popular trailheads and viewpoints. But don’t worry, these free shuttles are included in your park pass and you don’t even need a ticket.
In popular Zion National Park, all visitors must use the Zion Shuttle System to access the Zion Canyon Section of the park during peak season. There’s no shuttle system along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway or the Kolob Canyon section of the park, and you’re free to drive yourself along these roads at anytime of year (just bear in mind that there are size limits for the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel).
You can check the exact dates that the Zion shuttle is mandatory on the National Park Service website, but typically it runs from March to November, on weekends in February, and during the last week in December. The first shuttle leaves the visitor center at 6:00am and stops at numerous viewpoints and trailheads in the park until the last shuttle leaves the Temple of Sinawava at 8:15pm. And it’s okay if you miss one, shuttles depart every 6-10 minutes at each stop and you can just jump on the next one. To get the shuttle, it’s easiest to park at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center or in designated parking areas in the town of Springdale (and get the free Springdale Shuttle in to the park).
When you reach Bryce Canyon, the park shuttle runs from April to mid October to the most popular overlooks, amenities and trails along the Bryce Amphitheater section of the park. Unlike Zion, the shuttle is optional (except for vehicles over the size limit) although it’s still a convenient way to get around, especially for day hikers. The best place to park your car and get the shuttle is from the Shuttle Station in Bryce Canyon City, and shuttles run every 15 minutes throughout the day from 8:00am to 6:00pm.