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Utah Road Trip Day's 1-3: Drive to and Explore Zion National Park

July 31, 2018

Day 1-3: Drive to and Explore Zion National Park


After a night of fun in the Sin City (and hopefully with not too bad of a hangover to really "start" your trip) hop into your car and head up Highway 15. Along the way you will pass through St. George and then arrive in Springdale where you will find a plenty of accommodations and restaurants right outside of Zion National Park.



In the below section, we will go over suggested accommodations, activities and food options that you will find in the area. While we couldn't include all of them on the list, we have added links to other great websites to help with finding the activities, accommodations and (most importantly) food options that fit your budget and itinerary.


Parking and Getting Around Zion National Park


Getting To and From the Park (Parking Information): Access into and around Zion is by a shuttle bus that leaves every 5-10 minutes from the Zion Visitor Center right inside the entrance into the Park.  You can park your car at the visitor's center and spend the day riding the shuttles to different drop off locations. Parking is LIMITED at the visitor center so getting there early (between 7-8am) would probably be in your best interest. If you're coming in during the afternoon, parking spots open up right around 2pm through the rest of the day since all the morning hikers are on their way out.



Additional Parking: If Zion's Visitor Center parking is full, don't fret. Along the town road coming from Springdale there are plenty of parking lots and meters. Fair warning that in most cases the price to park is $20 for the day. However, you can park at the Springdale Visitor Center and take a shuttle from there to the Zion Visitor Center for free. Below is a map to give you an idea of the shuttle ride:


Activities to do in Zion


When going to Zion, whether it's with friends, family, or yourself, there is something to do. No matter if you're traveling in a big group or by yourself, there is plenty to. do in Zion. The hiking is incredible and there are endless trails to explore. We have a compiled the below list which covers a variety of skill levels:


The Narrows (Bottom to Top) (Temple of Sinawava Stop) 

Note: If you want to complete The Narrows hike from the top down, click here to apply for the permit!


Angels Landing (The Grotto Stop)


Emerald Pools (Zion Lodge Stop)



While these are our top 3 personal favorite hikes in Zion, there are countless others like The Subway, Observation Point Via East Rim and Watchman that are great choices. To learn more, click here for more information about the shuttle system and other hikes!


Accommodations in Zion


Campgrounds: There are 3 campgrounds in Zion National Park: South, Watchman's, and Lava Point. Both South and Watchman's Campground are found very close to the Visitor Center while Lava Point is about an hour drive.


During the high season, South and Watchman's are fully booked by mid-morning so make sure to reserve 2 weeks in advance (reservation links found in the names above). Additionally, these campgrounds have spots for RV's/rental cars along with shower and water facilities (Lava Point doesn't have water). Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort is a scenic 45 minute drive away from the Zion Visitor Center, though it offers great campgrounds with facilities ($14 per night) as well as all other kinds of accommodation options:



Note: You can risk same day walk-ups to campgrounds because typically people wont show up on their scheduled day; if there's a group site available that no one books they'll split it up for individual campers so it's always worth a shot to check. 


Hotels: While camping is a great option, there are several hotels in the area that are available and offer plenty of comfort. While it may cost you more per night, after a long day of hiking a nice bed and AC helps. Here are more Booking.com options for you to look into at Zion. If you are interested in "glamping" options, click the link for hotels/campgrounds that have this option!


Below is a list of options that are available along the Zion "Strip":


Food Options in Zion


Trust us, we know the importance of food especially after a long day of hiking. Springdale has tons of options that can fit your budget and cravings. If you're looking for some great Tex-Mex, we suggest stopping by Bit & Spur Restaurant Saloon and getting their short ribs and shrimp tacos! If you're looking for some food that's good for the heart ((or if you're looking for something that sticks-to-your-ribs)), Blondie's Diner offers a great American comfort grub option. Furthermore,  if you want to research the restaurants in the area, click the link here for Yelp reviews. For other options, check out the map below!



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