Getting Here and Around
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Getting Here and Around
In southwestern Utah, not far from the Nevada border, Zion National Park is closer to Las Vegas (158 mi) than to Salt Lake City (310 mi). The nearest commercial airport is 46 mi away in St. George, Utah. Off Route 9, the park is 21 mi east of Interstate 15 and 24 mi west of U.S. 89.
Zion used to be considered an accessibility nightmare, with only 400 parking spaces that had to be shared among the 5,000 or so cars that entered the park every day. But no more. In May 2000 the National Park Service banned all private vehicles inside the park from April through October and simultaneously introduced the free shuttle bus system that loops from the parking lot at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center through the park and into nearby Springdale. You can drive into the park November through March.
The Zion Canyon Visitor Center parking lot fills up quickly. You can avoid parking heartburn by leaving your car in town and riding the shuttle to the park entrance. Town shuttle stops are at Eagle's Nest, Driftwood Lodge, Bit & Spur Restaurant, Best Western Zion Park Inn, Bumbleberry Inn, Zion Pizza & Noodle Co., Watchman Cafe, Flanigan's Inn, and Zion Canyon Giant Screen Theatre. The shuttle service starts at 5:30 am and rolls through 10:30 pm; they come often enough that you won't likely wait more than 15 minutes at any stop before you see one.
If you enter or exit Zion via the east entrance you will have the privilege of driving a gorgeous, twisting 24-mi stretch of the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway (Route 9). Two tunnels, including the highway's famous 1.1-mi tunnel, lie between the east park entrance and Zion Canyon. Oversize vehicles have to buy a $15 escort permit at the park entrance to cover the extra safety precautions the rangers have to take for your tunnel transit. West of the tunnels the highway meets Zion Canyon Scenic Drive at Canyon Junction, about 1 mi north of the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.
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