The drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park is a short 2.5-hour drive, but there is SO much to do along the way. On the 160-mile trek, you even drive through three different states -- Nevada, Arizona, and Utah! There are state parks, national conservation areas, and quirky towns to explore along the way. You can make it a casual day trip or turn it into a multi-day road trip if you have plenty of time to spare.
If the main reason you are in Vegas is to gamble and whoop it up, this road trip will be exactly what you need to clear your head from the chaos. If you're flying to Las Vegas International Airport only to grab your rental car and hit the road, I'd still suggest you save a little time to take a stroll down the Las Vegas Strip if you've never been there. While it may not be the most family-friendly city, it is guaranteed to be prime people watching and brimming with lights and sounds and worth an afternoon. When you're ready to leave Vegas, hop on Interstate 15 and let the good times roll on the road to Zion.
Head to Valley of Fire State Park
A 45-minute drive from Las Vegas lies Valley of Fire State Park, 40,000 acres of red Aztec sandstone cliffs, colorful limestone, and ancient petroglyphs from over 2,000 years ago. Located in modern-day Carson City, Nevada, this land originally belongs to the Basketmaker culture (2,500 years ago), the Pueblo people, and later the Paiutes. Stop by the visitor center to educate yourself on the geological phenomenons of this sacred land. This park features camping, hiking trails, birdwatching, and biking.
80 Minutes to Virgin River and the Virgin River Gorge
Nestled just twenty minutes from the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, the Virgin River Canyon is located in the short Arizona stint of this drive before crossing the border into Utah. The Virgin River is a 162-mile tributary of the Colorado River that crosses Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. During the centennial tribute to Zion National Park in 2009, this river was named Utah's first wild and scenic river. We suggest pulling over, stopping for lunch, and take a riverside walk before making your way into Southern Utah.
30 Minutes Later, The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
A prime spot for some hiking and backpacking, the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument offers a more isolated version of the Grand Canyon with little cell service. Drive your 4x4 vehicle to the Grand Wash Cliffs, visit the ancient waters of Pakoon Springs, or take a solo camping trip to cleanse your soul.
40 Minutes through St. George to Red Cliffs National Conservation Area
After leaving the Parashant Monument, you will drive forty minutes through St. George to the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Utah has no shortage of insane rock formations and impressive Native history, and the Red Cliffs are no exception. This expansive 60,000-acre reserve is composed of unique protected species, remarkable ecosystems, and incredible scenery.
5 Minutes to Snow Canyon State Park
After you get your scenic thrills at Red Cliffs, head just five minutes to Snow Canyon State Park, the last stop on your jam-packed adventure to Zion. Perfect for horseback riding, hikers wanting to discover the red Navajo sandstone, or campers who want to sleep among the petrified lava flows, Snow Canyon is 100% worth your time.
Arrived: Zion National Park!
In the town of Springdale, Utah, lies Zion National Park, one of the top-visited national parks in America. Our complete Zion Canyon guide dives deep-there's so much to learn about Zion National Park ahead of your backpacking trips, slot canyon adventure, Angel's Landing hike, or Narrows canyoneering. You can even read up on how the shuttle buses take Zion visitors around the park! In a word, this Utah gem has everything.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 22, 2021.
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