In less than three hours and 165 miles, you can exchange the concrete and neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip for the serene and colorful landscapes at Zion National Park, established in 1919 as Utah's first of five national parks. Along the way from Las Vegas to Springdale, Utah, you will drive through a few canyons carved out by the Virgin River. Once you get to Zion National Park, park your vehicle and ride on the free shuttles provided by the National Park Service. Essentially, you get a free guided tour through the park to top points of interest and popular hiking trails and vistas.
The scenery at Zion National Park is so beyond belief that you will find yourself wanting to take photos of almost everything. The pink, cream, and red sandstone cliffs are impressive but the sedimentary structures of Zion become more evident while driving north along Highway 9 beyond the tunnel. Brace yourself because your eyes will be amazed at the natural beauty.
With so much to see, it is a good idea to plan to spend more than just an afternoon at this national park. Small hotels and campgrounds are in abundance just outside the park entrance. Check out the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort for a real cowboy adventure or try river rafting while in the area. There's also hiking, biking, horseback riding, and, of course, photography in this picturesque part of the Southwest.
Note: All park visitors are required to purchase a recreational use pass to enter Zion National Park. The pass is good for seven consecutive days. The park is open 24 hours a day year-round.
It Beats the Grand Canyon
The views, trails, and endless possibilities for outdoor fun at Zion National Park are a few reasons to choose this national park over the Grand Canyon. If you are visiting Las Vegas, Zion is not only closer but also offers much more food, lodging, and activity options. From bike riding and river rafting to rock climbing and hiking, Zion National Park is where to escape from the city.
Families will enjoy the shorter hikes to dazzling pools and small waterfalls as well as the wide-open space of the valley floor. Head to the higher elevations for endless vistas and magnificent scenery. The Grand Canyon gets a lot of well-deserved attention, but Southern Utah is far more picturesque than Arizona.
The Shuttle Bus Makes Exploring Easy
The free shuttle bus in Zion National Park is a convenient way to get around the Zion Valley, and you won't need to worry about parking. Plus private vehicles aren't allowed in certain areas of the park. The shuttle is free and runs throughout the valley at regular intervals. Upon entering the park, head to the visitors center where you can pick up a shuttle. You can also gather information here about hiking and sightseeing in the park.
If you have a vehicle, drive into the higher elevations for more hiking options as well as access to Bryce Canyon and Escalante Canyon. Note that during peak tourist season, many are restricted to certain parts of the park so your best bet for transportation is either by bicycle or on the free shuttles.