For travelers visiting Las Vegas from more concentrated urban areas, the 160 miles that separate Vegas from Zion National Park might seem a daunting journey. But in fact, a three-hour drive is no time at all for those of us who live in the desert. And you will want to go. Zion National Park’s steep red cliffs make for great hiking and canyoneering; its Zion Narrows wading hike travels through stunning chasms; and the incredible Emerald Pools, with their waterfalls and hanging gardens, are some of the most transporting of all the scenic features in this area.
There are a number of ways to make the trip easily and economically. There is, however, precious little public transportation between Vegas and all the gorgeous national park areas that lie just across the border in Utah. (It’s just another hour’s drive from Zion to the wild red hoodoo rock formations of Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Kanab.)
|Shuttle||7+ hours each way (including layovers)||$100||Those who have plenty of time and don't love a tour bus.|
|Car||2.5-3 hours each way||$65||Drivers; those who want freedom on the cheap|
|Bus Tour||12 hours round trip||$99 and up||Those who like to socialize; non-drivers|
|SUV Tour||14 hours round trip||$269 and up||Those who like a little luxury and don't want to drive|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get from Las Vegas to Zion National Park?
For those with a valid U.S. driver’s license, we recommend renting a car and driving. Las Vegas car rental rates are notoriously low (although the ancillary fees on car rentals are often quite high). Still, with car rental rates hovering around $35 per day, you can pile a few people into the car and easily beat the prices of any bus tour or shuttle service serving Las Vegas.
You’ll have the freedom to stop in all of the funky little spots between Las Vegas and the entrance to Zion in the town of Springdale, Utah. (For instance, you won’t want to miss all the hand-dipped chocolates and homemade ice cream at the Springdale Candy Company about a mile from the entrance. For this, you will want a car.)
Tip: Las Vegas car rental rates, like hotel rates, fluctuate with the city’s convention schedule. When big conventions are in town, prices go up. You can plan accordingly by checking the city’s official convention schedule. Off-Strip rental locations are generally quite a bit less expensive than the airport location—even when you include the Uber ride to get there.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Las Vegas to Zion National Park?
Driving in your own car is the fastest way. Tour buses, while convenient, may make stops along the Strip. Even if they don’t, you’ll need to wait for other passengers to load and unload.
The absolute fastest way is chartering a helicopter, which you can do with well-established Las Vegas companies like Sundance Helicopters, which will take you over Utah’s incredible canyon country right from the Las Vegas Strip. You’ll need to call for rates but expect a chartered helicopter experience to start at $8,000.
How Long Does it Take to Drive?
Depending on the stops you make, the drive will take between 2.5 and three hours. There are no shortcuts between Las Vegas and Springdale. However, there is often construction along the very narrow stretch of I-15 between Mesquite, Nevada and St. George, Utah, in the Virgin River Gorge, which passes through the northwestern corner of Arizona. You can often save yourself some time—and a possible headache of a traffic jam—by detouring through the Shivwits Paiute land. Take the I-15 north and get off at exit 8 in Littlefield. Follow Highway 91 all the way to Ivins, Utah, and on to St. George.
Tip: Don’t speed! This is a notorious (and expensive) speed trap, as we've learned the hard way.
Is There a Bus that Goes from Las Vegas to Zion National Park?
There is no public bus that goes from Las Vegas to Zion National Park. The St. George Shuttle operates between Las Vegas’s McCarran Airport and St. George, and then between St. George and Springdale. But count on at least a two-hour layover and stops along the way. It only makes four pickups at Springdale each day. If you are absolutely anti-tour bus, this is one option for you.
If you don’t mind a tour bus, there are many Zion National Park day trip options from the Las Vegas Strip. Most make multiple stops along the Strip, so you can be picked up right where you’re staying. In general, expect to pay from $99 per person for the day, which usually includes a box lunch, admission fee, and drop-off at the gates. (A shuttle takes you into the park along the 6-mile Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.)
Some companies, such as Adventure Photo Tours, do chartered SUV tours from Las Vegas to Zion. They’ll include breakfast, lunch and snacks, and a driver will take you to all the highlights for about $269 per person (depending on the tour).
When is the Best Time to Travel to Zion National Park?
During the summer, Zion (and Las Vegas, for that matter), reaches punishing heats of well over 100 degrees. If you decide to arrive between May and September, consider visiting early in the morning. Spring and fall have the most moderate weather; April and October are the most popular months to visit, with highs between 60 and 90 degrees. (Keep in mind that during the spring, high water levels in the canyons may mean that some hikes are off-limits.)
What’s the Most Scenic Route to Zion National Park?
If you can spring for the fare, helicoptering to Zion is the most scenic route! The drive between Las Vegas and St. George is not that interesting, but you can take the 54-mile Zion Park Scenic Byway at the intersection of Highway 9 and I-15, about 9 miles east of St. George. It parallels the Virgin River in many areas, and cuts through the towns of Hurricane, Virgin, Rockville, and Springdale before ending the park. (Look for Grafton ghost town, a site from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.")
What Time is It in Zion National Park?
Zion National Park is on Mountain Time, one hour ahead of Las Vegas, which is in the Pacific Time Zone.
What Is There to Do in Zion National Park?
Zion is all about the hikes—and the variety is endless. The shortest, and one of the most family-friendly, is Weeping Rock, which is a quarter-mile walk on a paved road that ends at a “weeping” rock that drips with water.
For some of the best (and most accessible) views, take the one-mile walk up the Canyon Overlook Trail, which works for most abilities, and ends with beautiful vistas over Zion Canyon.
The most popular hike, and a must-do for avid hikers, is Angels Landing, a 5.4-mile hike that involves chain-assisted rock scrambles, crazy heights, and scaling a narrow ridge. Not for the faint of heart, but a seriously glorious climb.