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Zion Mt Carmel Highway Scenic Drive (Everything You Need to Know)

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About the Zion Mt Carmel Highway Scenic Drive

zion mt carmel highway scenic drive zion national park
Zion Mt Carmel Highway

The Zion Mt Carmel Highway Scenic Drive is one of the most beautiful drives in the entire national park system. Massive colorful rock formations and lots of beautiful hikes abound in this section of Zion National Park.

The drive is located on the lesser explored (than the main canyon) east side of Zion National Park where the bighorn sheep roam.

While you’re on this side of the park be sure to check out Canyon Overlook and Pine Creek Gorge Slot Canyon.


Best Time to Visit the Zion Mt Carmel Highway Scenic Drive

fall zion national park zion mt carmel highway
Zion Mt Carmel Highway

The best time to drive the Zion Mt Carmel Highway is in the early morning to avoid crowds and have it to yourself. The best season to see this drive is in Autumn when the fall foliage is blazing with vibrant yellows and oranges.

With that being said, there’s never a bad time to make this drive as the slower you go the more you enjoy.


Bighorn Sheep on Zion Mt. Carmel Highway

bighorn sheep zion mt carmel highway zion
Bighorn Sheep of Mt Carmel Zion Highway

Look for Bighorn Sheep along the highway and drive carefully to avoid accidents with these regal park residents. I see them routinely near the trailhead of Canyon Overlook.


Traffic on the Highway

Traffic congestion can be an issue here due to the limited roadside parking, bighorn sheep, and tunnel traffic limited by large vehicles.

Pack your patience, especially if visiting during peak hours or peak seasons.


Things to Know Before You Visit

Entrance Fees: The entrance fee for Zion National Park is $30 per vehicle. If you plan on visiting more than 1 national park this year I suggest you go ahead and purchase the America the Beautiful Pass (which can be found at the entrance gates to most national parks or online here). This pass gets you into all National Parks, Forests, Monuments, and more including 2,000 sites for free after a one time $79 fee.

Sunscreen: For many of us visiting national parks in the summer means lots of sun. Seriously, some of these parks can zap you if you don’t wear sunscreen. We happen to like this one because it works AND it’s not full of a bunch of chemicals.

Leave No Trace: We’re big fans of Leave No Trace, here at MTJP. Want to learn more? Read about the seven principals of Leave No Trace here.

Dogs are not allowed on trails in most national parks due to their potentially disruptive presence with the natural ecosystem. The basic rule is they are allowed where cars can go so be sure to check the rules before bringing along your furry friend.

Things to Pack

Map: I use this one.

Guide: I recommend this one – James Kaiser is the gold standard when it comes to national park guide books.

Sandals: We recommend these sandals that we love and these sandals which have straps.

Insect Repellent: You hope not to need it, but you want to have it. We typically bring an Eco-Friendly Insect Repellent with us just in case.


Details About Zion National Park

Location: Springdale, Utah

Established: November 19, 1919

Size: 323,431 acres

Native Land: Hopi, Navajo, Northern Ute, Pueblo of Zuni, Southern Paiute

Visitors: 4,320,333 (2018)

Entrance Fees: $30 per vehicle (or $80 for America the Beautiful Pass)


Photos of Zion Mt Carmel Highway


Zion National Park Video

ZION 8K is the culmination of nearly a month spent exploring Zion National Park during peak fall color. Filmed primarily in stunning UHD 8K.​

 

Will Pattiz

Co-founder of More Than Just Parks. Husband. Conservationist. Currently living in NYC.

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