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


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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, Las Vegas is situated in an ideal location for visiting some of the most stunning national parks in the Southwest region of the United States, included the legendary Zion National Park. If you’re planning a trip to the 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.

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

How to Get to Zion National Park from Las Vegas

Las Vegas to Zion National Park 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.

Consider a detour through the Valley of Fire State Park just 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. Regardless of what stops you choose to make along the way, you’ll find the drive from Las Vegas to Zion to be enjoyable and beautiful!

If you want to make sure you get the best deal on car hire for your Zion day trip, then it’s worth browsing on Rentalcars.com. This platform aggregates the best deals across all hire car hire companies to ensure you get a good deal irrespective of where you rent your car!

Zion National Park
Zion National Park

Zion National Park Tour from Las Vegas

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 day trip from Las Vegas to Zion National Park through a tour. There are many different tour options at a range of prices that are definitely worth considering.

At the most basic level, you can book a Zion National Park Bus Tour, which will provide you with round trip transportation from your hotel in Vegas to Zion National Park, a boxed lunch, and snacks, so that all you’ll have to think about is which hikes you want to do.

This tour is perfect if you still want to explore Zion independently and have the freedom to spend the 6-hour day however you want – click here to check availability

Another option is this Zion and Bryce Canyon Day Tour From Vegas. 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.

This tour is ideal if you want to see as much of the area as possible on your day trip, yet you don’t particularly care to do intense hiking in Zion.

Since you’ll be visiting so many different locations on this trip, you only spend about an hour at each spot, meaning you won’t be able to explore as much of the park as you would if you went independently. However, it is a great option if you really want to see as much as you can on your day trip – click here to check availability on Viator or click here to check on GetYourGuide.

If you’re looking for something that falls somewhere in between the first two options, this Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park Small-Group Tour would be the perfect option.

On this tour, you stop at both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, but you’ll have a few hours at each stop, which means you’ll have the time to hike and explore both parks. Additionally, this tour emphasizes only booking small groups, so you’ll have a much more intimate experience that is tailored to the interests of the group – click here to check availability on Viator or click here to check on GetYourGuide.

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

Bryce Canyon is a great additional to a Zion National Park Day Trip
Bryce Canyon is a great additional to a Zion National Park Day Trip

Zion National Park Day Trip from Las Vegas 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. And now, read on for a Zion National Park 1-day itinerary!

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 National Park 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 where you’ll be able to access different hiking or walking trails, and 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 a first visit to Zion, 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 national park

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. 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 view from the top is absolutely breath-taking.

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. 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. 

Hiking in the Narrows
Hiking in the Narrows

Human History Museum

For a stop that’s a bit different in Zion National Park, 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 National Park 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.

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! 

And finally, you can 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.

The Virgin River in Zion National Park
The Virgin River in Zion National Park

Have More Time?

If you have more than just a day in Zion, consider camping in Zion National Park for a night or two to get the full outdoor adventure experience! 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 National Park

If you’d like to do more than a Zion day trip from Vegas and want to spend the night near this incredible national park, there are plenty of options available. One of the bet places to stay is in the city of St George, which has numerous amenities and cool town centre along with being within close proximity to the park.

St George Inn & Suites — This is a great, mid-range option and makes for the perfect place to base yourself before exploring Zion. They boast a range of comfortable and clean rooms and even have a swimming pool to enjoy. Click here to see their availability

Inn On The Cliff — If you’re looking for a bit of luxury during your trip to Zion National Park, then this hotel is a great choice for you. They have an number of clean, chic and comfortable rooms available, a great swimming pool with fantastic views, and a hearty continental breakfast included in the room price. Click here to see their availability

Airbnb — If you’d rather find a private room rental or an entire place, then Airbnb is a good choice for you when visiting Zion. There are so many great properties available on the platform — such as this cool A-Frame cabin located near Mt Carmel Junction — and you’re sure to find something that suits your personality and budget. Click here to browse more Airbnb properties

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

Where to Stay in Las Vegas

If you’re searching for the perfect place to base during your Las Vegas to Zion day trip, then check out these suggestions for the best place to stay in Sin City.

Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino — 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 clean comfortable rooms available, a number of restaurants, a large swimming pool and breakfast included in the nightly rate. Click here to see their availability

Bellagio — If you’re looking ot stay in the lap of luxury while on a trip to Vegas, 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. Click here to see their availability

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 National Park is sure to be an incredible and unique experience you’ll never forget.

When travelling in the USA, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads 

Are you planning a Zion National Park day trip 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 playing the guitar, reading, or pouring the perfect flat white at the café she works at. Ella fell in love with travelling while studying abroad in Galway, which is what prompted her to come back to Ireland after graduating university and start writing about her experiences.

Comments

  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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