Pack your bags and hit the road because the journey from Las Vegas to Zion National Park promises an unforgettable experience. This scenic 155-mile drive, taking approximately 2:30 hours without stops, weaves through some of the most iconic landscapes of the American Southwest. Here’s our guide to rounding out a quick road trip with must-see stops. Buckle up, and let’s ride!
Taking a Scenic Drive from Las Vegas to St. George
1. “Welcome to Las Vegas” Sign
Kick off your road trip with an iconic photo at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” landmark on Las Vegas Boulevard. For the best experience and fewer photobombers, try visiting early in the morning on your way out of town.
2. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Just 20 minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip, immerse yourself in a 200-acre conservation area with stunning geological highlights like red sandstone peaks and the Keystone Thrust Fault. Take the 13-mile scenic drive for panoramic views and ancient petroglyphs. Depending on when you go, the Ice Box Canyon has seasonal waterfalls. Remember, there’s a daily fee for park entry, but holders of the “America The Beautiful Pass” gain free access.
3. Valley of Fire State Park
This destination is a can’t-miss as you continue your journey from Las Vegas to Zion National Park. Dive deep into Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, spanning over 40,000 acres of Aztec sandstone, petrified trees, and ancient petroglyphs. Start with the 1.5-mile Fire Wave hike for spellbinding visuals, and remember to stop at the visitor center for some history about the park!
4. St. George, Utah
As the gateway city to Zion, St. George is a destination in itself. Wander through the historic district, revel in the arts scene at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre, or simply stroll in Pioneer Park for scenic city views. A visit to the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site should also be on your itinerary, especially if you’re traveling with kids.
5. Sand Hollow State Park
Renowned for its sky-blue waters and red sand dunes, Sand Hollow offers many activities, from boating, fishing, and swimming to off-roading on the dunes. The park’s dive site is also gaining popularity, featuring submerged remnants and artifacts, creating an underwater playground for scuba divers.
6. Snow Canyon State Park
A majestic canyon carved from red and white Navajo sandstone and the extinct Santa Clara Volcano, lava tubes, lava flows, and sand dunes define Snow Canyon’s geological features. The Jenny’s Canyon and Petrified Dunes trails are a must for hiking enthusiasts. The park also offers guided tours unveiling its volcanic history and unique geology.
7. Springdale, Utah
Just before Zion, you’ll find Springdale, a charming town teeming with unique shops, art galleries, eateries, and Zion Brewery – Utah’s first microbrewery. Use the Springdale shuttle to make your Zion exploration hassle-free. The shuttle operates two routes: the first is in the Town of Springdale, with nine different stops leading up to the park’s entrance, and the second route runs through Zion itself, connecting the Visitor Center to iconic sites and trailheads like Zion Lodge, Emerald Pools, West Rim Trail, and the Temple of Sinawava – the starting point for the renowned Narrows hike.
8. Grafton Ghost Town
This eerily charming town is a window into the pioneer life of the 1850s. Almost frozen in time, you can see the remnants of homes, a church, a cemetery, and even a schoolhouse. It’s free to visit. Don’t forget your camera—the backdrop of Zion’s cliffs makes it a photographer’s dream.
9. Dinosaur Tracks at Johnson Farm
A step back into prehistoric times awaits you at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site. You can witness thousands of some of the most well-preserved dinosaur footprints at the original discovery site for a small admission fee. Plan to spend at least an hour, as apart from the tracks, there are interactive exhibits, fossil displays, and even a replica of a prehistoric lake ecosystem.
Entering Zion National Park
Zion National Park’s majestic canyons, towering cliffs, and the glistening Virgin River are a testament to nature’s grandeur. This serene landscape shifts from red and pink sandstone cliffs to green valleys. Discover thrilling bucket-list trails like Angel’s Landing and The Narrows, or find solitude on trails such as the Watchman and Canyon Overlook. Adventure seekers should also try the Via Ferrata routes – a blend of hiking and rock climbing perfect for beginners. Or pedal through Zion’s scenic vistas with a guided cycling tour organized by Under Canvas Adventures. Also, don’t miss a drive through the Mount Carmel Tunnel—a feat of engineering offering stellar views.
Pro tip: Start your day early and visit in late spring or early fall for cooler temperatures and fewer crowds.
Where to Stay Near Zion
Of all the places to stay between Las Vegas and Zion National Park, Under Canvas Zion shines brightest as a haven of nature and luxury, just 20 miles from the park. Nestled among towering sandstone cliffs, this outdoor resort lets you experience luxury in safari-style tents. Each morning, sip your coffee while soaking in desert views, and come evening, dine al fresco under the stars. Gather around the campfire, share stories, and connect with one another. With accolades from Condé Nast Traveler, Under Canvas Zion beautifully blends comfort and nature.