Wilderness Information and Permits

What is Wilderness?

Wilderness is a rare, wild place where one can retreat from civilization, reconnect with nature, and find healing, meaning and significance. Knowledge, respect, and understanding for these wild and undeveloped places will ensure that they remain spectacular for years to come.
Be sure to visit these online resources to learn more about Wilderness areas:

A hiker with backpack walking on a trail.

Start planning an overnight backpacking trip, discover which trails are best for your group, and reserve permits in advance.

A canyoneer rappelling down a vertical wall with ropes, harnesses, and other safety equipment.

Technical canyoneering is an adventurous sport that requires ropes, harnesses, and other equipment and skills to safely descend slot canyons

A hiker walks along a trail at sunset.
Wilderness Day Hikes

Explore the many trails that access the Zion Wilderness.

A hiker walks through a creek in a slot canyon.
The Subway

The Left Fork of North Creek (The Subway) is a strenuous off-trail hike that requires permits to access a popular destination.

Two hikers walk through a raver between towering walls.
The Narrows

Plan your hike into the Virgin River Narrows. Hiking options include day hikes from the bottom-up and top-down, and overnight from top-down.

A climber scales a vertical wall high above the canyon floor.
Rock Climbing

Learn about climbing rules and regulations in Zion, and reserve a permit for overnight climbs.

Visitors float down a river between towering canyon walls in an inflatable kayak.
River Trips

Learn the rules and regulations for float trips down the Virgin River. Find out when the river is floatable.

Visitors on horseback take in the scenery.
Stock Use

Horses and other stock animals are allowed on select Wilderness trails. Learn the rules and regulations here.


"Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit." - Edward Abbey

The Zion Wilderness is a spectacular network of colorful canyons, forested mesas, and striking deserts. In 2009, over 124,000 acres of Zion National Park was designated as wilderness. This designation will ensure that 84% of the park will continue to be a place where nature and its “community of life are untrammeled by man, a place where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Zion Wilderness Permits:

  • Permits are required for: all overnight backpacking trips, overnight climbing bivouacs, all through-hikes of The Virgin River Narrows and its tributaries, all canyons requiring the use of descending gear or ropes, all trips into Left Fork of North Creek (The Subway), and all watercraft river trips.
  • Wilderness areas are subject to natural forces such as: wildfires, rockfalls, flash floods, and other related factors that may cause closures or changes to trip plans. An online reservation does not guarantee that a trail, canyon, or resource will be open at the time of the trip. Always have a back-up plan.
  • The purpose of the Wilderness Permit is to protect resources, manage visitor encounter rates and campsite use, and educate users on safety concerns and resource protection.
  • Learn more about the various way to get a Zion Wilderness Permit.

Personal Safety in the Zion Wilderness

  • Wilderness Permits do not provide a safety net for park visitors.
  • All visitors are responsible for their personal safety, making informed decisions, and managing individual and group behavior in the Wilderness environment.
  • Be prepared and make good decisions, so that you and everyone in your group can have a rewarding experience, and return home safe. Search and Rescue is not a guarantee.
  • Make sure to find out about current conditions and weather forecasts before starting your trip.
  • Do not rely on your cellphone -- there is little to no service in most areas of the park.

Cover of the Zion Wilderness Guide

Download the Zion Wilderness Guide from our park newspaper webpage.
Download the Zion Wilderness Map from our park map webpage.
Download Wilderness Desk Handouts.


Increasing Visitation and Permit Availability

As visitation to Zion National Park has increased dramatically, so has interest in visiting the Zion Wilderness, and demand for Wilderness permits. More people are venturing into the Wilderness on day hikes, and many more are attempting to obtain permits for backpacking and canyoneering trips. There are only so many backpacking sites, and limits are in place for the total number of people allowed per-day in each canyon.

Visitors wanting to backpack or descend a canyon should be flexible in their planning. Your first and even second, choices may be unavailable. At busy times of year, all permits may be taken, leaving none for people who show up at the Wilderness Desk without a reservation.

Guided Trips in the Zion Wilderness

Structured and/or formally guided activities facilitated by educational, commercial, or like organizations are authorized to occur only on frontcountry trails. Such activities are not authorized to take place in park Wilderness/back-country areas (Primitive and Pristine Zones).

Zion Wilderness Map

Download the Zion Wilderness Map from our park map webpage.

Last updated: April 29, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.

Springdale, UT 84767


If you have questions, please email zion_park_information@nps.gov. Listen to recorded information by calling anytime 24 hours a day. Rangers answer phone calls from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. MT, but a ranger may not answer if they are already speaking with someone else.

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