One of Utah’s ‘Mighty 5’ national parks and the first national park in the state, Zion National Park offers remarkable views of huge sandstone cliffs and stunning canyons as well as some of the most iconic hiking trails in the country.
As a result, it’s one of the most popular national parks and planning a trip there can be overwhelming. If you’re going to Zion National Park and starting to plan your trip, this guide will help you figure out the best way to get to Zion National Park.
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If you are planning to visit Zion National Park in spring, summer or fall, make your planning easy and stress free with a detailed itinerary. I have 1-, 2-, and 3-day itineraries for Zion that include all the park highlights, give you choices based on your preferred activity level, and take all the stress out of planning your trip.
You might also like to read:
- The Best Time of Year to Visit Zion National Park
- Complete Guide to Planning a Trip to Zion National Park
- The 10 Best Hikes in Zion National Park
- How to visit Zion Without Shuttle Tickets
- Complete Zion Shuttle Service Guide
- Best Photo Spots Zion National Park
- How Many Days in Zion National Park?
- What is the Closest Airport to Zion National Park?
- 12 Fun Facts About Zion National Park In Utah
Zion National Park Entrances
There are several distinct areas in Zion National Park, each with their own entrance(s).
This is the main section of the national park and most people only visit this area. There are two entrances:
South Entrance (Main Entrance). This entrance is accessed via Utah’s State Route 9, just off the exit from Springdale.
From March to November, you’re required to ride the free shuttles provided by the National Park Service to visit the main part of Zion Canyon. Check the details on How to Take a Bus to Zion National Park below. However, you can drive between the South Entrance at Springdale and the East Entrance near Kanab at any time.
East Entrance (Zion-Mount Carmel Road). If you’re coming from (or going to) Bryce Canyon, the North Rim of Grand Canyon or Kanab, you will most likely use the park’s East Entrance. Note that the road goes through the Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel and there are restrictions on size. Check the NPS website for details.
Visitor Centers: Zion Canyon Visitor Center and Zion Human History Museum
This entrance only gives access to Kolob Canyons in the park’s northwest section and can be accessed via I-15.
Visitor Center: Kolob Canyon Visitor Center
This entrance is near Virgin on Utah’s State Route 9. The road is seasonal only and closed to larger vehicles all year.
Where’s Zion National Park?
Zion National Park sits at Utah’s southwest corner near Springdale and Kanab. The large park is close to the Arizona-Nevada borders at the edge of the Colorado Plateau.
The park is just three hours from Las Vegas, which gives easy access. You can also take an adventurous “Grand Circle Tour” of national parks that include Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park.
What’s the nearest town to Zion National Park
There are several scenic towns and major cities near Zion National Park t stay in and explore.
Towns near South Entrance (Zion Canyon)
The closest town to Zion National Park is Springdale. It lies just outside the park near main (south) entrance to Zion Canyon.
Springdale is a very convenient place to stay. It has plenty of options for hotels, shops, and restaurants, plus a free shuttle service to the national park’s entrance, which connects to the free shuttle that runs inside the park.
Rockville is the next nearest town near Zion National Park located along the Virgin River, just 5 miles from the south entrance. This town, along with La Verkin which is located on the Route 9 and 17 intersection, offers more affordable hotels, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts. La Verkin is only 20 miles from the south entrance.
Virgin is also nearby, on State Route 9. From here, you’re closer to the remote Kolob Terrace Road area. It has a couple of shops, restaurants, hotels, and glamping accommodations available.
Hurricane lies south of La Verkin and is a good base if you’re heading to or from Las Vegas. You can find a wide range of budget-friendly hotels, restaurants, and golf courses in town. From here, you can access either the Zion Visitor Center or the less crowded Kolob Canyons Visitor Center in about 30 minutes.
Towns Near the East Entrance
The closest main town to the park’s East Entrance is Orderville, stretching along US Route 89 near Mount Carmel and Mount Carmel Junction. From Mount Carmel Junction, the east entrance is around 15 miles while the visitor center is about 25 miles. You can also take a scenic drive on State Route 9 going to Zion-Mount Carmel Highway.
Kanab is another town not far from the East Entrance. This is a lovely town with several accommodation options and make a great base if you are also visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon or want one central place to visit both Zion and Bryce Canyon. It’s a 35-minute drive to Zion’s East Entrance.
Cities near the South and Northwest Entrance (Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyons)
If you’re looking for a bigger place (a city vs. a town) to stay in, the city closest to Zion National Park’s South Entrance and Kolob Canyons is St. George. It’s the largest city near the park and has a small airport in case you’ll travel by plane.
St. George also has more options for modern hotels, resorts, shops, and restaurants, and offers many outdoor activities. The city is around 35 miles from the Kolob Canyons section and 40 miles east of the Zion National Park’s main South Entrance.
Cedar City is somewhat smaller, but is just a 20-minute drive to the Kolob Canyons entrance, so this is the most convenient place to stay for that section of the park. It’s less convenient (an hour’s drive) to Springdale if you’re taking the south entrance.
If you’re looking for a larger place with better air connections and more to do, the closest city to Zion National Park is Las Vegas. This is the most common place to fly into/ out of when visiting Zion. It takes around two and a half hours to get to and from the Zion Canyon Main Entrance.
Salt Lake City is also fairly close to the park and is a popular start/ end point for people visiting all Utah’s ‘Mighty Five’ national parks. The Kolob Canyons entrance is 4 hours and the Springdale South Entrance is 4 hours 45 minutes from Salt Lake City.
How To Get to Zion National Park
Your best options to and around Zion National Park depends on which section(s) of the park you’ll visit, which entrance(s) you’ll use, and what season you’re planning to be there.
Taking a Tour to Zion National Park
If you have less time or prefer to go with a guide, there are several tours you can take to Zion National Park.
In addition to the general tours listed here, there are also private tours to specific park attractions and different experiences like UTVs, horseback rides, or helicopter tours.
Zion National Park Small Group Tour with 6 Hours Explore Time
If you have just one day and want to spend as much time as possible in the national park, then this is the tour for you. It’s a long day (with a 5:30AM start), but gives you about six hours inside the park. This is enough time to hike Angel’s Landing or the Narrows!
Small Group Tour from Las Vegas to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
Visit two national parks on a full-day tour. You’ll get to see the stunning desert landscapes, mesas, canyons, sandstone cliffs, and hoodoos. Visit Virgin River Gorge and St. George. Lunch and snacks are included, along with round-trip transfers to Las Vegas hotels.
3-Day Tour to Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon and Monument Valley
OK, this is one helluva tour! These are four of the top attractions in the entire country. If you prefer not to drive, then this tour out of Las Vegas is the way to go. It includes transport by air-conditioned minibus, choice of camping or lodging accommodations, camping equipment, park entrance fees and a Jeep tour in Monument Valley, plus an optional scenic helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon.
Flying to Zion National Park
There are several options for flying to Zion.
St. George Regional Airport is technically the nearest airport to Zion National Park. It’s a small airport near Springdale and offers very limited commercial flights, but is a good option if you want to minimize your driving time. You can pick up a rental car, drive to Springdale, then ride the shuttle service, or travel around the park’s northwest section via the Kolob entrance.
Cedar City Regional Airport is also a small airport with only a few flights daily, but it’s just 30 minutes from Zion’s Kolob Canyons area and an hour from Springdale. Bryce Canyon is also not far from there, so if you’re visiting both parks, this can make a good start/ end point.
However, most people fly into Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport in Nevada which is about 170 miles, or Salt Lake International Airport, located 300 miles from Zion National Park, as they both have a lot more flight options.
For more information about where to fly to get to Zion National Park, read my guide to the best airports for Zion National Park.
Taking the Train to Zion National Park
There’s no direct train service on Amtrak to Zion National Park. However, if you like train travel, it’s possible to get somewhat close and then pick up a rental car or take a bus for the last leg to the park. The two nearest stations are Flagstaff and Salt Lake City.
The Southwest Chief route is available via the Flagstaff station. If you want a more relaxing trip, you can book a large deluxe room with ensuite bathroom on this luxury train to Zion National Park.
From the Flagstaff station, the AVIS car rental agency is about 3 minutes away. You can also book an Enterprise or Budget rental car and make arrangements to have them pick you up at the station. Both car rental services are 5 minutes away from the station. If you prefer Hertz, there’s also one about 11 minutes from there.
The nearest park entrance from the station is the east entrance via Zion-Mount Carmel Road, which is about a four-hour drive.
The Salt Lake City Amtrak station on the California Zephyr route is another option. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Budget, Hertz, and AVIS rental agencies are just 3-5 minutes away from the station. From Salt Lake City, you’ll reach Zion National Park’s Kolob Canyons entrance on a 4 ½ hour drive via I-15 South.
Taking a Bus to Zion National Park
There is one direct shuttle bus from Las Vegas to Zion National Park daily on National Park Express.
Another option for taking the bus from Vegas to Zion National Park is to transfer in St George. You can take a St. George Shuttle or a Greyhound bus from Las Vegas (Greyhound has several buses daily from the airport or the Strip) and then transfer in St George to the shuttle bus to Zion National Park/ Springdale. There are five buses from St George to Springdale daily.
St. George Shuttle and Greyhound also have buses from Salt Lake City to St George, where you can connect with a shuttle to Springdale.
Getting Around Zion National Park on the Shuttle Service
From Springdale you can ride the free national park service shuttle to the park entrance, with connections to the other free shuttle service inside the park. This free shuttle operates from March to November and around the end of December during the holiday season.
You don’t have to get a reservation or ticket to ride the bus. There are two routes. The Springdale Line shuttle takes you around the town of Springdale with nine pick up and drop off points within the town.
The Zion Canyon Line shuttle offers routes from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to the Temple of Sinawava with stops at Zion Lodge and starting points for trails to Angels Landing, West Rim Trail, Emerald Pools, and the Narrows.
How to Drive to Zion National Park
If you’re driving to Zion National Park from Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon’s North Rim, or Page AZ, you’ll enter through the park’s East Entrance. If you’re coming from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Cedar City or St George, the South Entrance is closest.
Driving to the Main (South) Entrance of Zion National Park
If you’re coming from Las Vegas or Mesquita in Nevada or Saint George, Utah, you can take I-15 North, then drive to State Route 9 on Exit 16. Stay on State Route 9 until you reach La Verkin, Utah. You’ll get to Zion National Park from State Route 9 East with the Zion Canyon Visitor Center just a few minutes ahead. Las Vegas is 163 miles from this entrance while Mesquita is 80 miles from there. Saint George is only around 40 miles from Zion Canyon.
From Salt Lake City and Cedar City areas, you can start by driving to I-15 South. Take Exit 27 by going left on State Route 17 South. Drive left on State Route 9 East when you get to La Verkin and stay on State Route 9 East to reach the visitor center. From Salt Lake City to the entrance is 307 miles, and Cedar City is around 57 miles.
Driving to the East Entrance of Zion National Park
If you’re driving from Page or Kanab, take US Route 89 North. Head left on State Route 9 West on Utah’s Mount Carmel Junction. Keep driving on State Route 9 West until you get to Zion National Park. From Page, Arizona, it’s about 118 miles, and it’s a 45-mile drive if you’re coming from Kanab.
You can also visit the nearby Bryce Canyon National Park which is about 86 miles from the Zion Canyon entrance. To get there, drive along State Route 63 North. Turn left on State Route 12 West and left towards US Route 89 South. Head right on State Route 9 West going to Mount Carmel Junction. Continue on State Route 9 West to the entrance.
Driving to the Kolob Canyons Entrance
From Kanab to the Kolob Canyons entrance, you can either take the AZ-389 W route or the US-89 N and UT-14 W route. If you’re taking the first route, drive from AZ-389 W going to State Highway 59 N until you get to Washington County’s I-15 N. From there, drive to Exit 40 and continue on East Kolob Canyon Road. From Kanab to the entrance area is about 83 miles and willtake you an hour and a half to drive.
The US-89 N and UT-14 W route is longer, and takes just under two hours, but it serves as an alternate route. Follow US-89 N going to UT-14 W, then drive along I-15 S in Cedar City from there. Follow I-15 S until you reach Washington County, then take Exit 40 from I-15 S. Continue driving along Kolob Canyon Road to get inside the park.
Salt Lake City is also closer to this section, which is about 270 miles. You can drive to the entrance in around 4 hours from the city. From Salt Lake, get on I-15 S/I-80 E. Follow I-15 S until you get to Washington County, then take Exit 40 from there. You’ll get inside the park as you drive along Kolob Canyon Road.
FAQs about Getting to Zion National Park
What city is closest to Zion National Park?
Saint George is the closest city to the park’s main south entrance. Cedar City is closest to the Kolob Canyons entrance. If you’re coming from the eastern area, Kanab is the closest city to the east entrance.
The nearest big city with a major international airport is Las Vegas, about a 2.5-hour drive away.
What is the best way to get to Zion National Park?
The best way to get to Zion National Park if you have less time to travel is by flying to St. George Regional Airport. You’re only 45 minutes away from the park.
What airport do you fly into to get to Zion National Park?
For international airports, you can fly to Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport in Nevada or Salt Lake International Airport. For regional airports, St. George Regional Airport and Cedar City Regional Airport are both smaller but are closer to Zion National Park. Both regional airports offer limited commercial flight services.
Can you get to Zion National Park without a car?
Yes, there are two ways to get to Zion National Park without a car. One way is to take a tour. There are plenty of one-, two- and multi-day tours from Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.
You can also get to the park’s south entrance in Springdale by bus from Las Vegas or Salt Lake City via St. George. You can then take the free NPS shuttle into the park.
How far is Las Vegas from Zion National Park?
The distance Las Vegas to Zion National Park is only 160 miles via I-15. It takes about a two-and-a-half-hour drive to get there.
Travel Insurance for Zion National Park
In addition to deciding how to go to Zion National Park, you will also need get travel insurance for your trip. Whether it is for unexpected trip cancelation, emergency repatriation or medical help, or to replace something lost or stolen, having travel insurance will give you piece of mind and help you when you need it.
A great insurance option is Travelex. It has coverage for all you’ll need. You can choose the best travel insurance plan for your trip here or get a quote right now:
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James Ian has dedicated his life to travel and has traveled to 82 countries and all 7 continents. He’s visited all of the main national parks in the United States, as well as many national monuments and state parks.
As a national park expert, James has contributed to many publications, including Time Business News, Savoteur, and Wired. He also has several published detailed itineraries in addition to many free online guides.
James has rafted through the Grand Canyon; rappelled down slot canyons near Zion and Arches; hiked among the hoodoos in Bryce and the enormous trees in Sequoia; admired the waterfalls in Yosemite and the colored hot springs in Yellowstone; seen moose in Grand Tetons and seals in the Channel Islands, and much more.
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