AMAZING NATIONAL PARK ROAD TRIP LAS VEGAS TO ZION
AMAZING NATIONAL PARK ROAD TRIP LAS VEGAS TO ZION, Whether you ’re visiting Las Vegas, looking for a road trip idea, or are formerly visiting both destinations, driving between Las Vegas and Zion National Park is worth the trip. In general, those travelling this route will take Interstate 15 for utmost of the trip before changing onto Highway 9, which runs through the demesne. Only2.5 hours long, you might assume that there is n’t important to do between the two assessing sightseer destinations, but the trip could take you all day or longer if you stop at any of these beautiful places.
10 PLACES TO EXPLORE BETWEEN LAS VEGAS AND ZION NATIONAL PARK
1- LAS VEGAS SIGN
At the start of your journey from Las Vegas, you’ll almost certainly exit the city by heading south down the strip, making the perfect excuse to visit Las Vegas’s famous sign if you haven’t already checked it off your list.
The beauty of this road trip is that you’re likely to start early.
Even by 10 am, the Las Vegas sign usually has a queue snaking down the street, particularly on weekends.
Arrive early and park in the small parking bay nearby.
There’s usually a friendly local manning the sign who’ll take some great photos of you for a small tip.
It’s worth it for the memories and to say you’ve stood under one of the world’s most famous signs.
2- LAKE MEAD RECREATION AREA
31 miles from Las Vegas, 40 min drive.
In the heat of the day and after the overwhelming bright lights of Vegas, relaxing and exploring the quiet Lake Mead Recreational Area is just the thing to cool off.
Only 40 minutes from Vegas, this makes an ideal first stop on your trip.
The lake is manmade and filled with water from the mighty Colorado River, which also runs through a Grand Canyon a few hours away.
Not only can you sit and admire the beautiful mountains and the Mojave Desert set against the sparkling blue water, but you can also swim, go fishing, cycling or take a scenic drive through the area.
Hiking is also popular, with lots of trails and campgrounds nearby.
If time is short, take a boat out on the lake or join a cruise for the best views.
Some longer cruises will take you south to see the Hoover Damn, which, although isn’t along Interstate 15, is worth a detour.
3- VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK
16 miles from Lake Mead, 20 min drive.
Valley of Fire State Park is the most unmissable destination on this road trip.
With otherworldly landscapes made up of unique rock formations, mountains and hills all tinged red, hence the ‘fire’, it’s one of the most unusual landscapes in America.
The park is around a 30-minute detour from Interstate 15, and although small, you’re likely to spend a few hours driving around.
There are multiple viewpoints, trailheads, natural attractions, and a small information centre and gift shop.
Rainbow Vista Point is the most beautiful of these, and the White Domes are also worth a stop.
Be prepared to stop your car frequently, not just to take photos but for the bighorn sheep that often wander across the road here.
The park costs $15 to enter and is also great if you’re planning the return journey – stop here just before sunset for epic golden hour light across the mountains.
4- CEDAR POCKET OVERLOOK
96 miles from Valley of Fire, 2.5 hr drive
Cedar Pockets Overlook is a cool and unique detour to make if you have extra time and a 4×4 (or are willing to hire one for a few hours).
Along a beautiful and windswept desert trail, you can self-drive to this pretty overlook similar to a mini–Grand Canyon for those unable to fit that into their itinerary.
Even if you can’t make it out to this point, the lovely Virgin River is on the main interstate.
Popular points are the Virgin River Gorge and Canyon, which can both be seen from the safety of your car – although it’s definitely worth pulling over for photos.
The area near Virgin River is reminiscent of a mini-Zion, with its own campground, trails and even its own version of the Narrows, so if you have time to stay overnight, this could be the perfect scenic stop.
5- ST GEORGE
28 miles from Cedar Pocket, 1h 30-minute drive.
St. George is not far from Zion National Park, so you’ll know you’re halfway there when you hit this bustling city.
The view of the city is dramatic in itself, set against the iconic red rock cliffs and mountains that Zion and this area are famous for.
Apart from being the largest city you’ll pass through on your journey, making it perfect for a lunch stop or stocking up on road trip snacks, there are plenty of things to do.
While you’re in town, don’t miss the iconic St. George Utah Temple, a beautiful Mormon church.
The city is a gateway for many great hikes outside of Zion, so if this is your vibe, visit Sand Hollows State Park for more sweeping lake views or Snow Canyon State Park to hike cool, petrified dunes and prehistoric lava flows.
If you’re taking things slow, St. George is often where people spend the night before driving to Zion the next morning; if you opt for this, you’ll have plenty of time to explore all the city sights.
6- RED CLIFFS NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA
9 miles from St. George, 20 min drive
Part of the greater Zion area, the Red Cliffs Conservation area has equally beautiful landscapes and is part of the Red Cliffs Reserve.
The area was formed by the meeting of the Mojave Desert, Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin, creating some spectacular landscapes to explore.
The recreation area for the Red Cliffs is only a few miles from the I15, and this is where you can park up, have a bite to eat and decide what to do.
The rec area is also the starting point for man tours here, whether bike riding, horse riding and hiking.
Some of the area’s best trails kick off here, including the Silver and Red Reef Trails, both of which are relatively easy two-mile trails that take in the main scenic spots for those short on time.
7- QUAIL CREEK STATE PARK
18 miles from Red Cliffs Conservation Area, 30 min drive
A short distance after St. George, before the town of Hurricane, Quail Creek State Park is an interesting little pit stop that people don’t normally see.
The park is home to a beautiful lake set against orange cliffs and the Pine Valley mountains as the backdrop.
Popular activities include paddleboarding and kayaking for those with their own equipment, although you can also find rentals on the waterfront.
Visitors can also go boating, fishing and swimming, which is very popular in the hot summer months.
Only $15 to enter, and with a campground and picnic area, even if you don’t quite have time to fully explore, this makes a lovely place to spend an hour or two to break up the journey.
8- TOQUERVILLE FALLS
16 miles from Quail Creek State Park, 1-hour drive
Since this road trip naturally passes through St. George, Toquerville Falls should be added to your list of stops.
The falls are a stop of their own as they’re at the end of a trail, meaning you’ll need some extra time to get there, but it can be accessed by SUV or 4×4 if you have one.
The falls are about a one-hour round trip, not including time spent taking photos.
The entire drive is extremely scenic, with Zion-esque landscapes, overlooks and creeks along the winding road.
Eventually, you’ll reach the pretty cascading falls, where you can stop for a snack and take a dip to cool off before making the 30-minute journey back.
The area is very popular with campers, so you’ll likely see enthusiastic hikers with tents along the way.
It’s important to note that you may want to consider skipping this stop if you’re visiting in high summer, as the falls may be sparse or even dried up from the heat.
9- CORAL PINK SAND DUNES STATE PARK
55 miles from Toquerville Falls, 2-hour drive
This stop is for those taking things slow and wanting a more scenic drive.
If you have more than one day to spend once you reach Zion and aren’t planning on staying in Springdale, as most people do, consider taking a detour off the I15 south onto Highway 389, which runs below Zion.
Not only will this take you past these sand dunes, but if followed up to Highway 89, it will eventually lead you to Zion via the lesser used east entrance, which is far less busy.
Unsurprisingly at this park, you’ll find almost 1200 acres of beautiful dunes, which are tinged slightly pink.
The area has lots to explore and is popular for off-road vehicles, hikers and photographers.
The park only costs $10 for your vehicle to enter, and once there, you can try out sledding down the huge dunes, sandboarding and OHV riding.
Spend a few hours here, especially if travelling with kids, as there are loads of fun activities for everyone to enjoy!
10- ZION NATIONAL PARK
(East Entrance) 27 miles from Coral Pink Sand Dunes, 35 min drive
(West/Springdale entrance) 40 miles from Coral Pink Sand Dunes, 1hr drive
The final stop is the epic Zion National Park, frequently voted as one of the most beautiful in the USA.
If you’ve followed this route via the Coral Dunes, you’ll enter Zion via the east entrance, which sees far fewer visitors.
This means you’ll be driving through Zion in the opposite direction to most people allowing you to face less traffic and have more opportunities to drive slowly or pull over and enjoy the views.
The most popular option, however, is to stay in the gateway town of Springdale, which offers a range of hotel options and hiking shops that will provide great gear for any hikes.
No matter where you enter, the best thing to do here, aside from driving Highway 9 the length of the park, is to get out and hike.
Zion has a huge range of trails for all types of visitors and fitness levels.
The most popular hike in Angel’s Landing is often cited as the ‘most dangerous hike’ in the USA, which is why visitors must now enter a lottery to get a permit for this.
Other popular hikes include Scout’s Lookout, Canyon Overlook and the Emerald Pools.
Observation Point is arguably the best viewpoint in the park, however, the strenuous hike here is currently closed due to rockfall.
Luckily, an easier seven-mile trail to Observation Point can be accessed from the east side of the park, called the East Mesa Trail.
In third place is The Narrows, a spectacular hike through Zion’s winding slot canyons that involves wading through thigh-deep water.
This hike also requires a permit, and water shoes are highly recommended, as is checking the official park weather in case of flash floods.
The full drive of Highway 9, which snakes through the entire park from east to west, takes about an hour, with scenic views the entire way, so make time for this on your trip.
Try to stock up on plenty of snacks and lots of water for any hikes: Hoodoos has a particularly good range of groceries and freshly made sandwiches and other hot food to take away.
Otherwise, when you return with an appetite, there are lots of cafes and restaurants in Springdale for lunch or dinner.
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