Zion National Park Travel Guide & Trip Planner
|Overlook near the east entrance to Zion National Park (Staff Photo)|
Our travels have taken us into the southwestern area of Utah on numerous road trips. Zion National Park is one of our favorite destinations in the West.
Access to the main section of the park is via two points along State Route 9, the east entrance and the south entrance at Springdale. The Kolob Canyons entrance is on Interstate 15.
We recommend you start your visit at the Zion Visitor Center (see photo below), and learn about the park's shuttle system, attractions, camp grounds and hiking recommendations.
Zion is located about 73 miles southeast of Bryce Canyon National Park.
Getting Around Zion and the Shuttle System
The shuttle system is needed to help transport the large numbers of visitors to the park, which today number over 4 million a year. Riding the shuttle is free.
Be aware that while there are large parking areas at the visitor center, they often fill up quickly during peak tourist seasons.
From March through October, visitation at Zion peaks. There can be long delays entering the park, and inside there is limited parking. Parking is usually full by 10 am. The best way to avoid delays entering Zion is to park in Springdale and ride the free shuttle into the park.
Scene near the south entrance to Zion National Park
The Zion free shuttle in Zion Canyon and Springdale resumed service on March 11, 2017 and will operate into late November. During this time the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive will be closed to private vehicles.
The Springdale Shuttle stops at nine locations in Springdale. The Zion Canyon Shuttle stops at nine locations in the park. The transfer between loops is made at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. You may get on and off as often as you like.
Free shuttles leave frequently from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center from 7:00 am to 6:45 pm. There are shuttle busses arriving at every stop in Zion Canyon and in Springdale every 10-15 minutes.
Things to See and Do in Zion National Park
A prominent feature of the park of 229 square miles is Zion Canyon, 15 miles long and about half a mile in depth.
Many outdoor activities are popular, including hiking, climbing, bicycling, river trips and exploring the Narrows.
The official address of Zion National Park is 1 Zion Park Blvd,
State Route 9, Springdale, UT 84767.
A photo of the Zion Visitor Center is shown below.
Hiking in a popular activity within Zion. Shown here is part of the Watchman Trail in the park
(Photo by Sandra Salvas, courtesy of Visit Utah)
Lodging Options in and near Zion National Park
The Zion Lodge is located three miles north on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Open year-round, it offers motel rooms, cabins and suites. It also has a gift shop and restaurant. Reservations are recommended.
While the Zion Lodge offers accomodations within Zion National Park, most visitors stay in nearby Springdale, Kanab or St. George.
Sprindale is located adjacent to the south entrance and borders the park. On our most recent trip to Zion, we stayed at the Cliff Rose Lodge & Gardens in Springdale. Located on the east end of town, it offers views of the nearby cliffs of the national park and is located on the Virgin River. It is also within walking distance to the south entrance of the park. The gardens are lush, and are perfect for casual strolls after a day sightseeing in the park.
Kaknab, located about 43 miles west of the Zion Visitor Center, offers about 15 hotels and B&Bs, from brand names such as Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express, to unique local lodging experiences. We have stayed at the Canyons Boutique Hotel in Kanab and were pleased with our room and amenities.
St. George is located 40 miles west of Zion, on Interstate 15. There are about 40 hotels and lodging options in St. George.
Interactive Map of Zion National Park
Visiting Kolob Canyons
The Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park is located at Exit 40 on Interstate 15, 40 miles north of Zion Canyon and 17 miles south of Cedar City. A 5-mile scenic drive along the Kolob Canyons Road provides access to trails and scenic viewpoints. A visitor center is located at the entrance to the road.
Scene along the Kolob Canyons Road in Zion National Park
Driving the Kolob Terrace Road
The Kolob Terrace Road is another lovely area of the park, and often features small crowds. Access is from Route 9, west of Springdale, near Virgin.
Scene along Kolob Terrace Road at Zion National Park
History of Zion National Park
Travel to the area before it was a national park was rare due to its remote location, lack of accommodations, and the absence of real roads in southern Utah. Old wagon roads were upgraded to the first automobile roads starting in 1910, and the first road into Zion Canyon was built in 1917.
Work on the Zion–Mount Carmel Highway began in 1927 to provide access to the east side of the park. The road was completed in 1930 and park visitation and travel in the area greatly increased.
The most famous feature of the highway is the 1.1-mile Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel, which has six large windows cut through the massive sandstone cliff.
Photographs of Zion from our Road Trips to the Park
The majestic red cliffs at Zion National Park
Lava Point Lookout at Zion National Park - 7,890 feet above sea level
Kolob Terrace Road in Zion National Park in Utah
Those magical red roads at Zion National Park
Plaque at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center at Zion National Park
For More Information about Zion NP
Zion National Park official website at the National Park Service or phone (435) 772-3256.