Though not the most popular pastime in the park, fishing in the Virgin River is permitted with a valid Utah fishing license, available at sporting goods stores and other businesses throughout Utah; contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 1594 W. North Temple, Ste. 2110 (P.O. Box 146301), Salt Lake City, UT 84114-6301 (tel. 801/538-4700; www.wildlife.utah.gov), for more details. Anglers occasionally catch a few trout, but the stream is not stocked.
Horseback riding is permitted in many areas of the park -- it's especially popular in the Kolob Canyons section -- although it is prohibited on some of the more popular hiking trails. Backcountry permits are required for overnight trips into the backcountry. For complete details on overnight horseback riding trips, contact the park offices and ask for a copy of the free handout "Pack Animal Use." People bring their own horses for the trips.
Guided rides in the park are available March through October from Canyon Trail Rides, P.O. Box 128, Tropic, UT 84776 (tel. 435/679-8665; www.canyonrides.com), with ticket sales and information near Zion Lodge. A 1-hour ride along the Virgin River costs $40, and a half-day ride on the Sand Beach Trail costs $75. Riders must weigh no more than 220 pounds, and children must be at least 7 years old for the 1-hour ride and 10 years old for the half-day ride. Reservations are advised.
Expert technical rock climbers like the tall sandstone cliffs in Zion Canyon, although rangers warn that much of the rock is loose, or "rotten," and climbing equipment and techniques that are suitable for granite are often less effective (and therefore less safe) on sandstone. Backcountry permits, available at visitor centers, are required for overnight climbs and cost $10 for one or two persons, $15 for three to seven, and $20 for 8 to 12 people. Because some routes may be closed at times, such as during peregrine falcon nesting, from early spring through July, climbers should check at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center before setting out. Zion Adventure Company and Zion Rock & Mountain Guides offer a variety of guided rock climbing and hiking trips, as well as instruction. Typical per-person rates are $125 for a half-day and $160 for a full day for two people, with lower per-person rates for larger groups. Zion Rock & Mountain Guides also offers equipment rentals and sales.
Climbers without the necessary expertise for Zion are advised to try nearby Snow Canyon State Park.
Swimming & Tubing
Hikers in the Narrows soon find that they are participating in a water sport, as they wade along the "trail" at the bottom of the Virgin River. Swimming and wading are prohibited in the Emerald Pools. Swimming is permitted in the Virgin River south of South Campground amphitheater; check with the visitor center about other areas that would be safe for swimming. Those wanting to go tubing in the river can rent tubes ($15) from Zion Adventure Company.
Zion does not usually get enough snow for winter sports, but the relatively warm winter days can be perfect for hiking. However, winter hikers need to be especially careful when trails are icy.