What to do in Zion National Park while on a Budget?

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Zion National Park — you think it is said “Ziii-on, but it is really said “Ziiin” trust me! The locals will know you are not from there is you say it out it looks. Say, “Ziiin” it is like the O is not even there. But let’s get to what to do in Zion National Park on a budget. We travel frugal, tiny, and love to show others how to do it too!

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1. Stay at Watchman Campground

If you want to frugally go to Zion National Park, you need to stay at this campground. It is only $30 per night and it has electric. This is a plus because most national parks do not have any and they are just boon-docking. We enjoy at least having electric since in our RV we have a fresh water tank that we can easily use.

We stayed for 2 nights and it cost us only $30 because we used our national park pass. We learned this trip though that we should not have received the 1/2 discount, but hey! We enjoyed it while we could.

We stayed in site 54, and it was perfect, level and the door went out to the river! It was in the back of the campground off the Virgin River and we did not have horrible neighbors either. It was a pull-thru site for easy ability to take our car with us and we did not have to unhook the tow dolly.

We would stay here again and stay in this site!

Another positive about Watchman campground, is that it is right at the front of the first gate to get into Zion National Park. So if you have a National Park Pass, do not forget it if you just go to get coffee in the morning to support a local business.

2. Springdale, Utah: Support a local coffee shop LOVECOFFEE

The town close to Zion National Park is Springdale, Utah, and in the busy season this place is hopping. Luckily we went during off season so it was not too busy for us. One morning, we support LOVECOFFEE shop to be able to experience what the locals do.

We traveled from St. George, Utah so we learned that it is a local Utah coffee, but it was good. My opinion it was even better than Starbucks coffee!!

We did not want to do dishes before we left for the day — lazy I know, but it was in our budget. We did end up spending $20 there. We had 2 scones and 2 coffee and a tip. Well worth it!

3. Plan to hike through the Emerald Pools

The emerald pools were recommended to us by a local friend, and we have to say the middle pool was beautiful even during the winter. The lower pools were closed for us, and we made it about half way to the upper pool and turned around due to how icy it was. Plus our two year old was hiking the entire trip and I was 32 weeks pregnant hiking.

This is a great hike for the kids!

Here are our favorite hiking boots. I have the grey ones of this brand and love them! They are comfy and great for hiking!

4. Take a drive past the Zion National Park Entrance

If you want something free to do that is breathe taking in the car, drive a little further. You will be able to go through a tunnel in the canyon, which was really cool. We only drove this way because we were trying to get our 2 year old to nap, but it did not work. She loved the views from the drive too!

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5. Go to Zion National Park during the winter

Take the scenic drive and experience the beauty without the crowd and heat.

We went there the first part of January right after winter break for most kids. It was a perfect time the weather was not too cold, and there was just a dusting of snow. It was really amazing to be able to see the red rock, green trees, and the snow.

This photo was taking at the top of the middle pool.

6. Bus Shuttle

If you do go during the season, plan on taking the bus shuttle. I am sure it is just as easy and really since the emerald lower pool was closed we took a different trail. It would have been nice to take the shuttle back to our car, but they were not running.

We have had experience with shuttles in national parks before like when we traveled to Acadia National Park, and it was really nice especially with a kid and a one way trail.

For our entire trip, 3 days and 2 nights we spent less than $100. $30 for the campground, $20 for coffee, $0 to get in since we had a national park pass, $50 for one night out to dinner. Overall, we were very please to be on budget and seeing some wonderful sights the Lord created!

Like if you want to go to Zion National Park.

Like if you love hiking and adventure on a budget.

Pin for a friend to show them they can travel on a budget.

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