How to Plan a Zion National Park Day Trip From Las Vegas

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by Ella Kilroy

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If you’re planning a trip to Sin City and want to make sure you are able to experience all that the area has to offer, consider a Zion National Park day trip from Las Vegas.

When most people think about things to do on a trip to Las Vegas, getting outside and enjoying nature isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, Vegas is situated in an ideal location for visiting some of the most stunning national parks in the Southwest region of the United States, including the legendary Zion.

Located just about 2 and a half hours from Vegas itself, a trip to Zion is a spectacular way to enjoy the stunning nature of the area, and get a good hike in.

Getting to Zion from Las Vegas

By Car

If you plan on driving from Las Vegas to Zion National Park yourself, you’ll find the drive to be straightforward and easy.

You’ll simply get on the 1-15 North and stay on that interstate for about two and a half hours. Along the way, there will be plenty of towns and service stations to stop at for food and fuel, plus a few extra stops that could be worth taking if you have the time and want to make a bit of a road trip out of it.

Consider a detour through the Valley of Fire State Park – which is about an hour from Las Vegas – to take in some incredible scenery and red rock formations.

Take a drive on Mouse’s Tank Road, the main road going through the park, to enjoy beautiful views without even having to get out of the car, or stop at some of the cool formations, such as the Beehives, to take pictures and stretch your legs.

Another stop along the way that could be worth making if you have the time is in St. George, Utah, just about an hour from Zion. St. George is a bustling city with many shops and restaurants, making it the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat before hitting the hiking trails of Zion.

Even if you want to park your car while at the park, there is also the Zion shuttle system that can take you all around – there is a shuttle stop

If you want to make sure you get a good deal on car hire, then it’s worth browsing on to find a good deal on a car hire across an array of different companies.

Zion National Park
Zion National Park

By Tour

Alternatively, if you won’t have a car with you in Vegas, or if you’d prefer to go with an experienced guide, you can consider taking a tour. There are many different tour options at a range of prices that are definitely worth considering.

If you want an intimate experience, consider booking this small-group tour when you visit Zion National Park, which will provide you with a round-trip transfer from your hotel in Vegas, a boxed lunch, snacks and a professional guide who will take you all around the park.

Another option is this full-day tour to Zion and Bryce Canyon. This tour will take you not only to Zion, but also to some of the other beautiful natural sights in the area, including the Virgin River Gorge, Bryce Canyon, and many stunning overlooks.

If you’re looking for something that falls somewhere in between the first two options, this small group day tour to Zion would be the perfect option.

On this tour, you stop at both Zion and Bryce Canyon, but you’ll have a few hours at each stop. So while you won’t have time to hike the Narrows, it can still give you an opportunity to experience the beauty of this area.

As you can see, there are many great tour options so whether you have a car with you or not, you’ll definitely be able to experience a memorable one day in Zion National Park.

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon is a great addition to a Zion Day Trip

Zion National Park Day Trip Itinerary

Once you’ve arrived at the park, you’ll find there are endless options for things to do in Zion National Park in one day.

Pick and choose the hikes or walks that are right for your desired level of physical activity and make sure you’re well prepared with snacks and water, particularly if you plan on tackling one of the more intense hikes.

Springdale Visitor Center

Regardless of whether you choose to drive yourself or if you’re taking a tour, your day will likely begin at the Springdale Visitor Center.

Driving within Zion is largely restricted due to the number of visitors in the peak season, so park here and plan on taking the free shuttle service into and around the park.

The shuttle service is very efficient, but you’ll likely have to wait in line to get on a shuttle at the entrance location.

Before you get on the shuttle into Zion, head into the Visitor Center to fill up water bottles, use the restrooms, or rent any gear or equipment you might need if you’re planning a more intense hike or rock climb.

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

The shuttle travels back and forth along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, a road that runs along the canyon floor and offers absolutely stunning views of the imposing cliffs from below.

The shuttle makes many stops along the drive (including to the Canyon Junction Bridge all the way to the Temple of Sinawava) where you’ll be able to access different hiking or walking trails (such as the popular Canyon Overlook Trail).

A new shuttle comes along every five minutes, which means you’ll never have to wait very long to hop on a shuttle and get to a new part of the park.

For those trying to see Zion in one day, I’d recommend riding the shuttle to the very last stop on the Zion Canyon Scenic drive before getting off at the stops you’re most interested in order to take in as much of the incredible scenery as possible.

Scenic drive in Zion national park
Scenic drive in Zion

Riverside Walk

Once you get off the shuttle at the last stop, you’ll find yourself at the Riverside Walk, a beautiful and pleasant paved trail that runs adjacent to the Virgin River.

The entire trail is 2.2 miles and flat, which makes it the perfect option for families with small children or those less comfortable with steep hikes. The Riverside Walk is beautiful and a great way to get acquainted with the majestic Zion Canyon.

Emerald Pools Trail

Another option for an easier, family-friendly hike is the Emerald Pools Trail which begins near Zion Lodge. This two-mile hike takes you alongside a stream and cliffs that form a few green-coloured pools, hence the name Emerald Pools Trail.

This hike is a step up in difficulty from the Riverside Walk, as it does require some elevation gain up the cliffs, but overall it is a very manageable hike for all levels of fitness. Just be aware that this hike is extremely popular and gets very crowded toward the middle of the day!

Waterfall at the Lower Emerald Pool
Waterfall at the Lower Emerald Pool

Angel’s Landing Hike

If you’re an experienced hiker and looking for something a bit more intense, the famous Angel’s Landing hike is a definite must-do. This hike is a strenuous and steep 5.5-mile trip up narrow switchbacks and sheer cliff faces, but the viewpoint at the top is absolutely breathtaking.

If you plan on doing this hike, make sure you are well prepared with the proper footwear and gear, as there are a few sections that will require climbing up rocky and rough terrain. Also not that, due to the popularity of this trail, it’s essential to apply for a permit in advance if you want to hike Angel’s Landing.

This hike is not suitable for young children or those without a good level of physical fitness, so be aware of that when deciding which hike you and those you’re travelling with will embark on!

The Narrows Hike

Another extremely popular hike in Zion is the Narrows, beginning at the Riverside Walk. This hike is unique because rather than walking on a trail alongside the river, you hike up through the actual river for five miles before reaching the Big Springs and returning the same way you came.

Hiking through the river provides you with absolutely stunning views of the surrounding canyon and allows you to go much further than you could on a path, however, you’ll likely need special equipment if you plan on doing this hike.

At Springfield Visitor Center you’ll be able to rent a waterproof backpack, river shoes, and trekking poles, all of which are definite necessities when walking for hours through rocky river terrain. 

The Narrows
The Narrows

Zion Human History Museum

For a stop that’s a bit different in Zion, consider checking out the Human History Museum, located at the first stop off the shuttle. The museum details the cultural history of the area, the Native American populations, and the pioneer settlements that were developed in America’s Southwest over time.

Learning about the history of Zion and the surrounding areas will make your visit all the more interesting and meaningful!

Biking, Trail Riding, or Kayaking in the Virgin River

As you can see, a majority of the major points of interest in Zion involve a good deal of hiking. However, there are many other ways you can explore the canyon and enjoy all that Zion has to offer if hiking isn’t for you!

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive (the road the shuttle operates on) is open for cyclists, as well as the Pa’rus Trail that follows along the Virgin River. Those who want a guide for something like this will love this e-bike tour of Zion!

Both of these trails are stunning and excellent choices for a bike ride. You can also opt to go on a Trail Ride and explore Zion Canyon by horseback!

There are a few tour companies that lead Trail Rides through some of the most beautiful parts of the park. This is a completely unique way to spend your time at Zion, particularly for animal lovers! 

You can also choose to experience the wonder of the Zion Canyon by river tubing down the Virgin River, a perfect option for those travelling with kids.

You can rent a tube from Zion Tubing and they will bring you by shuttle to the safest part of the River to tube down and pick you up after an hour of floating and bopping around in the Virgin River.

Finally, those who want a unique and beautiful aerial view of Zion, consider embarking on this helicopter tour!

The Virgin River in Zion National Park
The Virgin River

Have More Time?

If you have more than just a day in Zion, consider camping in Zion for a night or two to get the full outdoor adventure experience! There is a lot to do over a few days in Zion, so having more time is definitely an advantage.

There are three different reservation-only campgrounds you can opt to set up camp in, and sleeping under the stars in one of the most beautiful National Parks in the country is sure to be an incredible experience.

Additionally, you can head to Bryce Canyon National Park, just about two hours from Zion in order to see more interesting red rock structures and take in stunning views.

Bryce Canyon is known for its huge collection of colorful hoodoos (natural stone pillar structures) that make the landscape feel as if you’ve landed on a different planet. Drive to Bryce Point to get a view of all the hoodoos from the highest overlook in the park or head out on a few more hikes.

Where to Stay near Zion

St George Inn & Suites – A comfortable hotel in the city of St George just outside of Zion, there are both queen and king rooms available along with suites. There are also 3 swimming pools and a fitness center.

Inn On The Cliff – Offering lovely queen and king rooms, this plush hotel in St George is an excellent upscale place to stay near Zion. They have a gorgeous swimming pool, superb breakfast, free parking and an on-site restaurant.

Private Vacation Rental – Private rentals such as this ultra-cool cabin near the park entrance are another great choice. There are cuntless options near Zion that can suit most needs.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options near Zion!

Where to Stay in Las Vegas

Horseshoe Las Vegas – A great hotel and casino combo, this is the perfect place for mid-range travellers looking to stay right on the famed Las Vegas Strip. They have countless rooms available, a number of restaurants, a large swimming pool and breakfast daily.

Bellagio – If you’re looking for luxury, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this iconic hotel. They have a myriad of luxe rooms available, countless amenities, a great casino and even some iconic Vegas shows on site.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Las Vegas!

Las Vegas Sign
Welcome to Las Vegas!

As you can see, there is so much to do on a Las Vegas to Zion National Park day trip, and it is definitely worth getting outside the city to see this spectacular part of the country. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or simply someone who can appreciate a stunning view, a day trip to Zion is sure to be an incredible and unique experience you’ll never forget.

Are you to visit Zion from Las Vegas? Have you been before? Let us know in the comments below!

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Ella is a writer for The World Was Here First. She is an American living in Dublin, Ireland, and when she isn’t writing, you can find her jetting off to countless destinations across Europe and beyond. Ella fell in love with travelling while studying abroad in Galway, which is what prompted her to come back to Ireland and start writing about her experiences.


  1. I love your advice to take a short detour through the valley of fire to see the more beautiful scenery. My family is going on a long trip to Zion this year so that we can see all the beauty around there. We want to make it a great trip so I’m going to start planning everything out right now so we have a solid place to stay and eat.


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