Las Vegas to Zion National Park: Day Trip Tips & Hiking Trails en Route

Last Updated on August 30, 2022 by Snezana Grcak

Las Vegas to Zion National Park Day Trip

The Shuttle Fare team provides an in-depth travel guide for hiking lovers headed to Zion National Park. Find driving tips and the most popular stops along the scenic highway, including Valley of Fire, Virgin River Gorge, St. George, and Springdale. You’ll also discover the most beautiful areas, cliffs, and easy hike trail options located in Zion. Create a road trip plan from Nevada to Utah, and have a stress-free visit, whatever the weather.

Drive From Las Vegas to Zion National Park

The convenient 160-mile distance from Las Vegas to Zion National Park allows travelers to reach their destination in three hours. However, although you can do it as a day trip, we suggest not to rush it. Give yourself enough time to visit all the amazing places in between, do a few hikes in the area’s state parks, and enjoy a comfortable ride through the desert.

Interstate 15

Tip: The road is riddled with the highway patrol, so don’t speed. Also, although you should never drink and drive, note that Utah and Arizona have the toughest DUI laws, so take no chances.

The Most Attractive Stops Along the Way

Check out our team’s top five favorite places located on the way from Las Vegas to Zion National Park.

  1. Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire is the #1 stop on your way to Zion. Spring and fall are the best for hikes through these massive sandstone formations. If you travel in summer, arrive at sunrise to avoid high temperatures.

The state park offers RV sites with electricity and water, as well as campgrounds without hookups for both RVs and tents. Go through the admission charges.

Type of PassStandard FeeFee for NV Residents
Standard Vehicle Admission$15$10
Overnight Camping$25$20
Valley of Fire State Park

Tip: Take a 20-minute drive east of Valley of Fire to visit St. Thomas. It’s an old ghost town that had been flooded during the Hoover Dam construction but then revealed by the draught.

  1. Virgin River Gorge

The same river that formed Zion National Park also carved the 500-million-year-old Virgin River Gorge. A section of I-15 runs parallel to the Virgin River and offers a spectacularly scenic drive through the canyon. Fun fact, this is one of the most expensive parts of the country’s highway system. But the views are worth every penny.

  1. St. George & Red Cliffs 

The Dinosaur Discovery Site is a quick drive east of the interstate and our top recommendation for St. George visitors. The Children’s Museum is on the interstate’s other side and close to amazing eateries like Painted Pony Restaurant and Cappelettis Restaurant. We also recommend Nielsen’s Frozen Custard if you want to treat yourself to delicious ice cream.

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area is just north of the city. The admission fee is $5 per vehicle and $15 for campers. If you’re up for an easy hike, we suggest the Silver Reef trail. Snow Canyon State Park, with breathtaking sightseeing opportunities, is also a must for all hikers and bikers. Click here for all the info about Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.

  1. Grafton Ghost Town

Grafton is a historic settlement and popular ghost town abandoned in 1944. It’s a well-kept hidden gem that’s never crowded and offers an interesting walk back in time. Some buildings are open for visitors, so don’t hesitate to check them out.

  1. Springdale

Located right at the national park’s entrance is Springdale, a perfect spot to spend time or even spend the night since there’s a shuttle to Zion. In addition to lodging options, you’ll also find many shops, bars, and restaurants. Bit & Spur Restaurant offers tasty food and excellent craft beers, while MeMe’s Café is the best stop for coffee or snacks. 

See the locations of all stops on the following map.

Route Map

Zion National Park Passes 

The national park’s entrance fee is $20, plus an additional parking charge for vehicles:

  • $15 per standard car;
  • $10 per motorcycle.

You can also reserve RV parking at South Campground by calling 877-444-6777. The rates start at $256 per week. See the full Zion National Park parking guide for more info.

Top Locations & Activities in Zion

One of the most popular trails is Angels Landing. It’s not a beginner-friendly hike, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Start it early or in the late afternoon to avoid the crowds and enjoy magnificent sunrise or sunset views. If you cannot do the full hike, at least go to the Scout Lookout.

The Emerald Pool trails (lower, upper, and middle) are nice year-round alternatives. The lower trail is the easiest option if you’re traveling with kids. All trails provide wonderful mountain and cliff views and lead to waterfalls.

If you’re an experienced hiker searching for an adventure of a lifetime, we recommend hiking the Narrows in its entirety. It’s a 16-mile hike through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. Be sure to prepare all the necessary equipment, and get a permit to spend a night in a canyon’s designated campsite. If you forget to bring a pair of suitable socks or shoes, rent them near the shuttle drop-off spot at the Narrows trailhead.

The Narrows

The Best Time for a Road Trip to Zion

If we have to choose one ideal season, it is fall. Spring runoff can make hiking strenuous, while summer temperatures sometimes go up to 100°F, so fall is an ideal middle ground. The winter months are cold but the least crowded, very calm, and peaceful.