The drive from the main entrance over to the east entrance in Zion National Park is a beautiful drive called the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway.
It can be a little confusing since the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is only for shuttles, except November-February when the shuttles aren’t running.
The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is open to vehicles year round, although oversize vehicles like buses and motorhomes need to go when there is a ranger to manage traffic through the tunnel. From March-October that is 8:00 am – 7:00 pm, but check the schedule here if you have an oversize vehicle.
Shuttles and Cars
Both shuttles and cars can go between the main Zion’s Visitor’s Center and Canyon Junction, but at that intersection only shuttles and those staying at Zion Lodge can head up the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
Unfortunately our windshield was covered with insects from our drive to Zion, but this still gives you an idea of what to expect.
The Pa’rus Trail begins at Canyon junction. This is a great trail for strollers or bikes and the only trail in the park that allows dogs. There are a few pullouts or you can get off at Stop #3 on the shuttle.
Near the west end of the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is The Great Arch. It isn’t free-standing, but looks like an arch is carved into the mountainside.
The road winds back and forth a few times gaining elevation. There are a few pullouts where you can stop for the views. These are a great spot for night sky photography.
Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel
Soon you get to the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. This tunnel is over a mile long and was finished in 1930. It was a feat of engineering to make a tunnel so long! Near the tunnel there are lots of spots for rick climbing and repelling.
Immediately after the tunnel is the trailhead for the Canyon Overlook Trail. This is one is one easy mile to great views! There is a small parking area to the right after exiting the tunnel and another area just beyond that.
The colors and textures in the rocks are very beautiful! There is another tunnel, but this one is short.
Just before you get to the East Entrance of Zion you get to Checkerboard Mesa which is an interesting rock formation.
Here are other nearby hikes.