Plein Air Art in Zion National Park

Do you have a favorite National Park? It’s difficult to pick just one. But right now one of my top contenders would definitely be Zion National Park.

I visited the park for the first time in 2016, and was absolutely awed by the beauty and majesty, the colors and the quiet.

Zion is one of the most popular parks in the National Parks system – it got over four million visitors in 2016. Even though I was there in the off season, the park was crowed and the campground was full. But it was magnificent anyway. The park has implemented a park and ride system where you leave your car behind and ride their shuttles to the trails. Love it!

Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational

The timing for my visit to the park probably couldn’t have been better. I love to draw and paint, so I of course I toted my watercolors and sketchbooks along with me to my campsite to attempt to capture the beauty of my surroundings. Imagine my happy surprise when I found out my visit coincided with a famous art festival in the park!

Zion has hosted a Plein Air Art Invitational for nearly 10 years. The first week in November each year, 24 artists are invited to paint in the park. They give daily talks and demonstrations and you can spot them on the hiking trails with their easels and paintbrushes.

Art by 2016 Plein Air Artists: Suze Woolf, Royden Card and Mary Jabens.


I had a great time trying to spot artists around the park and check out what they were painting. Many of the 2016 invited artists were oil painters, and what talented painters they are! In the evenings I attended talks given by the current artist-in-residence and other visiting creatives. The talks were fascinating and informative. I especially loved one by printmaker Amanda Palmer about inspiration.

Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational -

Painter Stephen van Handel making a masterpiece.


I’m not sure if the art invitational attracts an unusual number of other artists to the park, but I saw many people painting who were not officially part of the festival. It’s definitely an extra inspiring time to be in the park!

In addition to the lectures and demonstrations by the artists, it is also possible to purchase their artworks. At the end of the festival there is an auction for the artwork that benefits the Zion National Park Foundation.

The 2017 Plein Air Art Invitational will be held November 6-12. Will you join me there?


Would you like more information about exploring Zion and the surrounding area? Read this guide to Zion National Park.

Are you an artist? How do you carry your art supplies when you travel? Check out my tips for traveling light as an artist here.

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