The Local’s Guide to Exploring Zion

The vast landscapes of Zion National Park, with its soaring red-and-white cliffs contrasted by cottonwood groves, have long called out to explorers and nature enthusiasts. Yet, to truly immerse yourself in its splendor, one must venture off the beaten path. Check out our guide to Zion’s hidden treasures and local favorites, from lesser-known scenic wonders to foodie delights.

Local Favorite Things to Do

Beyond its hiking trails, the area offers a plethora of activities beloved by locals. Dive into experiences that capture the essence of this magnificent region.

Virgin River Tubing

Late spring to early summer is the best time of year for a leisurely float on the Virgin River that carves through the scenic landscape. The starting point is Springdale, with various outfitters providing rentals and guided experiences.

Kayaking at Kolob Reservoir

Located about an hour’s drive from Springdale, this reservoir provides calm waters surrounded by serene landscapes. Early mornings or late afternoons offer the most tranquil experience. Rentals are available nearby.

Canyoneering at Lamb’s Knoll

For the adventurers, Lamb’s Knoll provides a series of canyons to explore through hiking, climbing, scrambling, and rappelling. Going with an experienced guide is essential, especially for first-timers, as navigating Zion’s terrains can be challenging.

Local Favorite Zion Hikes

Zion boasts a medley of trails, from the famous to the hidden. Venture beyond Zion Canyon, where the most popular trails lie, Angel’s Landing and The Narrows, and discover paths that promise serenity and unparalleled vistas.

Observation Point via East Mesa Trail

Spanning 6.7 miles round trip of moderate difficulty, this trail offers panoramic views of Zion’s main canyon from a remote corner of the park. The trailhead is accessible from a dirt road off Route 9, east of the park’s main entrance. Given the cooler temperatures, spring and fall are the best times to hike this longer route.

Watchman Trail

This moderate 3.3-mile round-trip hike starts near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. The early mornings or late afternoons provide the best light for photographers but make sure to stick around for captivating sunset views.

Northgate Peaks via Wildcat Canyon

This relatively easy trek of 4.4 miles round trip starts from the Kolob Terrace Road and offers a good escape from the crowds of the main canyon. There’s an easy-to-spot parking area near the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead, where the Subway “Top-Down” route also begins.

Places to See Near Zion

Venture beyond Zion’s boundaries to uncover landscapes and historic sites steeped in stories and scenic beauty.

Snow Canyon State Park

Located near St. George, roughly an hour from Springdale, this park boasts red rocks, lava tubes, lava flows, and sand dunes. Early mornings offer a golden hue perfect for photography.

Sand Hollow State Park

Situated 45 minutes from Zion, this park is popular for its water and off-road vehicle activities. During the warmer months, you can find refreshment when you swim, boat, or paddleboard in the beautiful reservoir against a backdrop of sandstone cliffs.

Lava Point Overlook

Located in the Kolob Terrace section of the park, this lesser-known vantage point offers a panoramic view of the Zion wilderness. This overlook requires no hiking and has a small parking lot nearby.

Grafton Ghost Town

Located just south of Springdale, this preserved ghost town offers a peek into the late 1800s life. Visit during the early morning or late afternoon for the best light and fewer crowds for a fun Old West excursion off the main track.

Local Favorite Restaurants in Zion

Zion nourishes the soul with its scenic beauty and delights the palate with its local culinary offerings. Here are some local favorite eateries to fuel your adventures in and around Zion.

Bit and Spur Saloon

Treat your tastebuds to authentic Mexican & Southwestern fare amidst a lively atmosphere. It’s the go-to spot for both locals and travelers and is located in Springdale.

Kings Landing Bistro

Enjoy American dishes complemented by a handpicked wine list in a refined setting with the best dining views of the mountains in Springdale.

Zion Brew Pub

After a day of adventures, unwind here with crafted brews and pub grub, all while soaking in scenic Zion views, plus outdoor seating and live music.

River Rock Roasting Co

Perched alongside the river in La Verkin, this casual dining spot serves delicious eats, from grilled sandwiches to burgers and pizza, all complemented by a captivating scenic vista.

Local Coffee Shops and Breakfast Spots

Nothing beats starting your day in Zion with a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a hearty breakfast to fuel the day’s adventures. These establishments have mastered the morning rituals.

Deep Creek Coffee Co

Begin your day with freshly brewed coffee or tea and a side of local chatter at this beloved spot in Springdale.

FeelLove Coffee

This charming café in Springdale and St. George promises magic in every cup and breakfast option to fuel your Zion explorations.

River Rock Roasting Co

A favorite for its freshly baked pastries and robust coffee selection, make mornings in Springdale truly special.

Under Canvas Zion

Just steps from your tent at Under Canvas, indulge in a delightful morning spread of wholesome breakfast delicacies, from creamy Greek yogurt topped to perfection, savory avocado toast, and fluffy egg scrambles to delectable freshly-baked cinnamon rolls paired with craft latte and espresso drinks.

Where to Stay in Zion

Set on 196 acres of pristine desert terrain, a mere 20 miles from the entrance to Zion National Park and the charming town of Springdale, lies Under Canvas Zion. Experience an unparalleled Zion experience with upscale lodging in the great outdoors. Guests stay in fully furnished safari-style tents complete with cozy beds, lighting, and private ensuite bathrooms. Awarded as one of the top resorts in 2022 by Condé Nast Traveler, we invite you to stay with us and uncover the best things to do in Zion.


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