It’s estimated that just over 4.5 million people from all over the world visit Zion National Park each year. It’s important to have a good Zion National Park itinerary ready before your visit. You can either plan out a Zion trip yourself or start booking some Zion tours. With this National Park itinerary, you’ll have a good foundation on where you want to stay in Zion, what to eat in Zion, and last but not least, the best hikes in Zion National Park.

Now, you may want to know when is the best time to visit Zion. Well, to get the most out of the park, late spring into late fall will allow you access to the best hikes in Zion. In the winter, they may close Zion trails due to snow. In early spring, The Narrows could be closed due to snow runoff from the famous Utah red rocks.

You also might be asking yourself, how many days in Zion is good enough? It depends on what you want to do and what else you are squeezing into this southwest itinerary. Personally, I think two full days is enough to get a good feel for the Zion hiking trails, but folks will spend up to a week in Zion National Park. I mean, that is why you’re wanting to take a trip to Zion National Park, right? Alright, lets dig deeper into one of the best National Parks in Utah. 

If you’re looking to expand your trip, then this Southwest road trip itinerary will be a great place to start your planning!

 

When you Google, “hotels in Zion National Park Utah”, you’ll get overwhelmed with the choices you have when visiting Zion. We’ll go over a few options: One is a budget friendly hotel about 30 minutes from the park, and the other two are a more luxury experience lodging near Zion National Park.

Cable Mountain Lodge

Staying at Cable Mountain Lodge is like staying INSIDE Zion National Park itself! I mean, it’s literally a two minute walk to the entrance of the park. When staying here, you don’t feel like you’re staying at a hotel. It feels more like a community. In the cooler evenings, you’ll find everyone sitting out on their chairs, out in the courtyard, or in the observation sitting areas. 

The pool and hot tub area backs up to the massive red rocks and right across the parking lot from the pool is the Virgin River. Cable Mountain Lodge has fairy lights around the pool and this transforms the entire area in the evening. At the river, the hotel has set up picnic tables and grills so you can cookout near the water. (This was my favorite area around the hotel, as i thought it was very thoughtful.)

The rooms here are spacious and get this. If you book room 721, its a corner Double Queen Hillside Suite, you’ll have unobstructed views of The Watchmen both from the window in the room and the balcony. You walk out to the balcony from the full wall sliding door. This room is unreal, y’all.

By the way, it states that it’s a double queen, but the couch pulls out to another queen, so this can sleep six folks! Another perk of the room is the kitchen. It has a full fridge, microwave, and cooktop. You can save some money by eating in here. 

Another HUGE bonus for staying at Cable Mountain Lodge are the discounts you get at the shops nearby. You get anywhere from 10%-20% off restaurants, the spa, and local shops.  

Thank you Cable Mountain Lodge for spoiling us rotten with a hosted stay and amazing views.

Springhill Suites Springdale Zion National Park

Okay, in my opinion, if you want to do Zion right, you HAVE to stay in Springdale, Utah. Especially, if you only have one day in Zion National Park. Springhill Suites is the place to stay. I do have to warn you, it’s so nice and the views are so incredible, that you might not want to leave the hotel at all.

Click here to see what others have to say about this property. The views from the back patio have you feeling that you’re already visiting Zion National Park without stepping foot in the park. 

Springhill Suites has two gorgeous gas fire pits, a heated pool, a hot tub, and last but not least, a huge free breakfast buffet! The fire pits are self-controlled with a timer, and they’re the perfect place to gather around with other travelers to take in the sun setting against the giant red rocks. 

Helpful Hint: There’s a liquor store within easy walking distance from the hotel. Grab yourself a bottle of wine, or two, before you settle in around the fire pit.

The rooms here are incredibly spacious. They even have a divider wall and it allows for the space to almost feel like two rooms. Oh! Get this! There’s a walk-in closet! I’m not 100% sure every room has one, so if that’s important to you, call beforehand. My friend was able to put her bike in the closet which allowed us to save space in our room. 

Springhill Suites is located directly across a trolley stop too. The town of Springdale has a free trolley that picks you up and drops you off at multiple stops on the main drag. Including, the entrance into the park. If you choose to stay in a hotel on the main strip of Springdale, you’ll never have to get in your car for the remainder of the trip…if you choose.

Bottom line, I’ve stayed in both areas. If you’re looking to save money and don’t mind the extra hour drive you’ll add a day, then you’ll love the Wingate. However, if you want to be surrounded by things to do in Zion National Park, then the Springhill Suites is calling your name. 

Thank you Springhill Suites for your kindness and hosting us on this amazing stay!

Wingate by Wyndham: Hurricane/Zion National Park

The Wingate is located in the outskirt town of Hurricane, Utah. If you’re looking for a modern and clean hotel room, with FREE HOT BREAKFAST, look no further. Check out the reviews for Wingate by Wyndham here.

After a Zion National Park day trip, head back to the hotel where they have warm cookies in the lobby and a hot tub to relax your muscles. If you or the kids want to cool down, you can take a dip in the pool.

The location of the hotel is situated around numerous restaurants where you can easily walk to. If you’re doing a Utah National Parks road trip, this hotel will make a great stop for you!

Best Places to Eat Near Zion National Park

The main strip of Springdale, Utah is loaded with not only great things to do near Zion National Park, but some of the best restaurants around! Below are places to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…oh, and of course, dessert! Trust me, after completing some of the Zion hikes, you’ll be ready to eat!

River Rock Roasting Company

Okay, I apologize, but the River Rock Roasting Company isn’t actually in Springdale, but it’s worth the quick drive to La Verkin, Utah. Not only does it serve up some of the best coffee and pastries around, but you almost can’t find another view of the Virgin River like the one you can get here!

Every southern Utah road trip we’ve taken, we’ve stopped by here not only once, but twice. There normally is a line, especially around dinner time, but it’s worth the wait. I highly recommend you try the coconut cream scone.

Oscar’s Cafe

Oscar’s Cafe is rated number one on Trip Advisor with almost 5,000 reviews, so you know it has to be good! This is the go-to Mexican food stop in Springdale, but is also serving up burgers/sandwiches, breakfast, and killer desserts. You can choose to eat inside or out. There tends to be a wait here, but it’s also worth it. 

Whiptail Grill

The Whiptail Grill is where you need to head if you’re looking for some of the best chipotle chicken enchiladas. It’s only open for lunch and dinner, but it has an amazing outdoor seating area with the red rocks of Zion surrounding you. One of the best things to do in Zion is to eat, and Whiptail is a good place to start!

The Spotted Dog Cafe

Looking for a light, but filling meal after a long hike? Head over to the The Spotted Dog Cafe for a colorful and healthy lunch or dinner. If you’re looking for a big breakfast before hitting the park, join them for an “all you can eat” breakfast buffet! I will say, I think it’ll be a shame if you don’t order the lemon cake. It is by far the best lemon cake I’ve had in all my travels. 

Springdale Candy Company

Is it appropriate to save the best for last? DESSERT! Is there better way to reward yourself after hiking the Zion National Park trails than with ice cream?! I don’t think so. Here at Springdale Candy Company you can either have a cup of ice cream, an ice cream cone, or pick any flavor and make it into a milkshake. Not in the mood for ice cream? Then have your pick of the many chocolates and other candies they offer in this cute shop.

Three Zion National Park Hikes 

Zion National Park hiking trails are THE reasons folks from all over the world are planning a trip to Zion National Park. Zion day hikes are the most popular things to do on your Zion National Park vacation. There are hikes for everyone at every fitness level to enjoy. There are even wheelchair accessible trails.

Zion has divided the hiking trails into easy, medium, and hard. You can find a list of all the hikes here and for Zion National Park hours. Below are our three Zion National Park day hikes that we recommend.  

The Narrows

The Narrows is probably the most popular hike in any Zion National Park hiking guide book out there. I have to agree. This is not your “normal” hike. You literally tread through the waters of the Virgin River during the vast majority of the trail. The water can sometimes get as high as your waist.

Throughout this hike, the water levels change, there are large rocks to climb, and the walls of the red rock frame the trail nicely. You can make this hike as short or as long as you want. Once you’re done hiking, turn around and return the way you came. The entire hike is over nine miles! We only did about three miles.

Be sure to check in with the visitor’s center to make sure the trail is open. They will close it during rain storms and when the snow runoff is heavy.

You’ll find the trailhead to The Narrows at stop nine of the Zion shuttle service.

Helpful Hint: It’s highly recommended that you wear ankle-supporting hiking boots AND bring a walking stick. The rocks under the water have a slight layer of growth on them and they can be very slippery. There’s a store or two in town who rents out gear specifically for this hike. 

Lower Emerald Pool Trail

Considered one of the easiest hikes in all of Zion, the Lower Emerald Pool Trail does not disappoint and is definitely a Zion National Park must see. Who doesn’t like standing under waterfalls while surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire world?

This trail is just around a mile in one way or about 2.5 round trip, but it’s very smooth and level. The park’s website even mentions being able to bring a baby stroller on this particular hike. If you’re lucky enough to visit soon after a good rain, you’ll get to experience TWO waterfalls coming off the cliffs above.

This trailhead is located at shuttle stop number five. This is the same stop as the Zion Lodge. The Zion Lodge is so popular that it can be completely booked up to a year in advance. So for the best rates and to start your booking now, click here.

Angels Landing

Going from the easiest hikes in Zion to one of the hardest…if not, the absolute hardest hike in all the park. Y’all. Folks are literally planning a trip to Utah National Parks solely for this one hike.

Here is my number one piece of advice for hiking Angels Landing: Start as early as possible. Two reasons: 1. It’s going to be scorching by early afternoon. 2. The crowds will be insane by early afternoon on.

Another helpful piece of advice is to bring a lot of water. Please don’t carry up a 16 ounce water bottle. It won’t be enough water and you’ll need both hands later when you’re climbing the chains up the mountain.

The elevation gain is near 1500 feet! Between the 21 switchbacks and the rest of the five mile challenging hike, you’ll need all the water your CamelBak can carry!

I’d plan around four hours or more to get to the top, take in the views once you make it, and then head back down.

This trailhead is located at shuttle stop number six.

Things To Do Around Zion National Park Besides Hiking

There are other things to do in and around Zion National Park that doesn’t include hiking. Now, I’m only going to share what I’ve done personally, but if you look on TripAdvisor, you can find other activities. 

You can also check out this great article on other things to do in Zion National Park besides hiking.

The Spa at Cable Mountain Lodge

Who doesn’t love a spa day? Whether you have sore achy muscles or you just want to treat yourself and relax in Zion, a trip to the spa is what you need. The Spa at Cable Mountain Lodge is located right outside the park.

This spa offers facials, massages, and foot rubs. One of the biggest perks about this spa is the sauna and the hot relaxing whirlpool they have in their dressing room. Once you’re finished with your massage or facial, you can welcome to use the changing room services as long as you wish. 

Helpful Hint: Bring a bathing suit! the shower area has a relaxing heated whirlpool and sauna. I’m not about to get naked around anyone but my husband, so we weren’t able to take advantage of these two perks. 

Tuacahn Amphitheater

Okay, so this isn’t super close to Zion National Park, but it’s close enough that it needs to be on your radar…especially if you’re road tripping from Las Vegas to Zion National Park. There are very few places like this around the world, an outdoor theater for musicals.

Tuacahn has become so popular, that they’ve be preforming Disney licensed musicals. The stage is backed up to these massive red rocks and the talent on the stage is the same caliber you’d find in NYC. 

My recommendation: Stay the night in St. George the evening you want to catch a show. The shows start around 8:30 and don’t get out until around 11:00. So, when planning your Zion National Park adventure, be sure you include this experience before or after you’re done with visiting the park. 

Zion National Park Itinerary 

Whether you’re planning a southwest National Parks road trip, you’re local to Utah, or you’re flying in just to tackle Angels Landing, Zion National Park will not let you down. Just from this guide, you have enough to do to last you a few days in Zion. Make sure you save a morning or evening to relax, eat around Springdale and the surrounding areas, and last but not least, get outside and explore this gorgeous southwest National Park located in the great state of Utah. 

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