Las Vegas to Zion National Park: Perfect Road Trip Itinerary

As one of the most gorgeous parks in the USA, Zion National Park seems to be on everyone’s wishlist. That’s why so many people who visit Sin City are interested in a Las Vegas to Zion National Park road trip!

Only about 3 hours away from Vegas, Zion is the perfect distance for a drive, and you can stop at places like Valley of the Fire State Park and various history museums along the way. 

las vegas to zion national park drive - car in zion

I’ve done the Las Vegas to Zion National Park drive a few times, and have put together a suggested itinerary for other travelers planning the same journey.

Read on for my recommended activities, plus a list of detours you may want to add to the trip, such as the Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon. Let’s go!

Quick Summary
Don’t have time to read the whole article? Here’s the short version of my suggested itinerary.
1. Depart Las Vegas
2. Valley of the Fire State Park
3. Lost City Museum in Overton
4. Lunch in Mesquite, NV
5. St. George, Utah 
6. Arrive in Zion National Park in the evening and stay overnight

How Far is Zion NP from Las Vegas?

las vegas to zion national park
Las Vegas to Zion National Park map, via Valley of Fire State Park (Google Maps)

Distance: 190 miles
Drive Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

The most direct route from Vegas to Zion, straight up I-15, covers 160 miles and takes 2.5 hours. But that drive isn’t particulary scenic, though, as you’re not leaving the highway.

My suggested route goes through Valley of Fire State Park, which turns the drive into 190 miles and 3 hours, 45 minutes.

Most of the drive takes place in Nevada, followed by a short section in Arizona, and then the final leg in southern Utah.

court of the patriarchs

While you could do Las Vegas to Zion National Park as a day trip, going to Zion and back in a single day, I suggest taking your time and allowing a full day to make the drive, so you have enough time to see and do all the interesting activities along the way. 

You can arrive in Zion in the evening, stay overnight, and explore the national park the following day.

The best time to make this drive is probably spring or fall, when temperatures aren’t too hot or too cold. But you can truly do this road trip any time of year. A lot of people love seeing Zion in the winter!

Las Vegas to Zion National Park Road Trip: Where to Stop

If you look at a map, you may not see a ton of obvious places to stop on this particular drive. But there are actually some really awesome places between Vegas and Zion. Let’s go over the best sights along the way.

Las Vegas, NV

Obviously, make sure to fully experience the craziness of Sin City before leaving town.

Yes, that means spending time in a few casinos and exploring the Las Vegas Strip, but it also means seeing all of the city’s quirky attractions and cool museums.

seven magic mountains

Among the fun attractions are the Neon Museum, a collection of old Vegas neon signs; the National Atomic Testing Museum; the Pinball Hall of Fame; and Seven Magic Mountains, a series of brightly-painted rock sculptures just outside the city.

Valley of Fire State Park

In a state full of incredible natural wonders, Valley of Fire State Park ranks as one of the best. It’s the first obvious place you should stop on the drive away from Vegas.

las vegas to zion national park road trip

Often referred to as a “geologic wonderland,” the Valley of Fire was formed during the age of dinosaurs 150 million years ago by great shifting sand dunes in what is now the Mojave Desert.

Visit here to see impressive red sandstone rock formations, petrified logs, petroglyphs (rock carvings) created hundreds of years ago, and some awe-inspiring mountains and rocks.

The Fire Wave is one of the most striking features in the park. It’s a section of rock with swirling patterns of reds and whites that can produce some sweet photographs.

fire wave rocks

Valley of Fire Scenic Byway runs through the park and leads to attractions like Arch Rock and Elephant Rock.

Give yourself a minimum of 2-3 hours to explore the park, though you could easily spend a full day if you decide to do some longer hikes.

Overton / Moapa Valley, NV

Overton’s noteworthy point of interest is the Lost City Museum, a 90-year-old museum featuring artifacts from archaeological expeditions in the area. 

lost city museum

There is one hotel in Overton: the North Shore Inn, which is much nicer than you might expect for a hotel in a remote small town like this.

Also worth mentioning: Fyrosity, a popular skydiving center in nearby Moapa Valley. The Nevada desert is such a scenic place for a skydive, so if you’ve ever wanted to jump out of a plane, maybe this is the spot to do it!

Logandale, NV

The main reason to visit Logandale is to experience the Clark County Fair & Rodeo, which takes place over five days each April. The event brings carnival rides, country and rock concerts, animal exhibits. 

Outside of the fair, the only noteworthy place here for road trippers is Pirates Landing, a pizza restaurant that’s pretty darn good.

Moapa, NV

Moapa doesn’t have a whole lot to interest road trippers, but it has a couple of gas stations and convenience stores located right along the I-15 freeway. This is an ideal place for a pit stop for a bathroom break and some snacks.

The affordable Moapa Motel is also located here, in case you want to stay overnight here to make the drive to Zion shorter in the morning.

Folks visiting in October should consider adding the Moapa Valley Corn Maze to their itinerary. This is a surprisingly awesome attraction, with a haunted corn maze, pumpkin patch, zombie paintball, hayrides, a petting zoo, and lots of good festival food, including apple pie fries.

Bunkerville, NV

Leave I-15 for a bit and head to Bunkerville if you’re interested in visiting the Bunkerville Camel Safari.

This is essentially a large zoo that provides safari experiences and up-close encounters with sloths, porcupines, alpacas, and more. This place is very off-the-beaten-path, but gets great reviews from wildlife lovers.

Mesquite, NV

virgin valley heritage museum

Mesquite is a city of 21,000 with lots of restaurants, several golf courses, and three casinos resorts. The main places of interest to tourists are the Virgin Valley Heritage Museum, Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery, and the quirky Donkey History Museum.

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys exploring small towns, take some time to check out Mesquite and its local boutiques, like the Painted Hippo pottery studio and Danielle’s Chocolates & Popcorn.

Mesquite has a bunch of good Mexican restaurants, plus Peggy Sue’s, a 1950s-style diner.

Littlefield, AZ

The most scenic section of the Las Vegas to Zion National Park road trip is the Virgin River Gorge, located near Littlefield. On this part of I-15, the highway snakes its way through a series of towering mountains.

virgin river gorge

I’ve driven all over the country, and this is one of my favorite sections of highway, because the scenery is so stunning.

The only challenge is trying to keep your eyes on the road while driving through this area. There isn’t really a convenient place to pull over and admire the view, so drive carefully.

St. George, UT

The largest city on this road trip is St. George, Utah, which has almost 100,000 residents despite not being particularly well-known outside this area.

Being a city that size, St. George has everything you might possibly need before reaching Zion — restaurants, sporting goods stores, clothing retailers, grocery stores, etc. 

It’s under an hour away from Zion NP, so it’s a good place to spend the night. 

st george utah mural

A lot of the major attractions here are related to either kids (St. George Children’s Museum, Dinosaur Discovery Site) or Mormons (St. George Temple, Brigham Young Winter Home Historical Site.) 

Non-parents and folks who aren’t interested in that particular church should focus more on St. George’s offbeat side — especially the public art. The heart of St. George, near Main Street and Tabernacle Street, has numerous wall murals, public sculptures, and statues. 

Check out the Humpty Dumpty statue outside the Children’s Museum, or the painted bison statues around the city, created in honor of the Utah Tech University Bison.

Town Square Park is home to a handful of public sculptures, including a giant guitar made out of license plates. Here’s a Google Map with most of the downtown St. George public art pieces.

st george painted bison
A painted bison statue in St. George’s Town Square Park.

Across town, Kayenta Art Village is an enclave of galleries and art-themed businesses.

Visitors who are more into geology and the outdoors may want to consider Bloomington Petroglyph Park, Pioneer Park, or the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, all located near the city.

Two St. George eateries I personally recommend: Iceberg Drive Inn, which has more than 50 thick milkshake varieties, and Cafe Sabor Mexican restaurant.

Hurricane, UT

The city of Hurricane (20k population) has a few hotels and restaurants, making it a good homebase for folks planning to explore Zion. 

Hurricane has some good hikes as well, including Three Falls and Hurricane Cliffs, but the hiking in Zion is better, so most tourists will want to spend their time in the national park instead.

Springdale, UT

springdale utah

Springdale is the small town right on the doorstep of Zion National Park. You can stay here, but expect hotels to be more expensive than those in Hurricane and St. George.

The town has cafes, restaurants, brewpubs, and coffee shops. One of the advantages of staying in Springdale is that you can take a free shuttle directly to the Zion visitor center from nine different spots in Springdale.

Our top hotel recommendation in Springdale is Cable Mountain Lodge, which has a hot tub and pool along with large studios and suite rooms. 

Zion National Park

Hopefully you’ve allotted at least a full day to experience the wonders of Zion National Park, which has some of the best views of any park.

zion national park

From March through November, vehicles aren’t allowed beyond Canyon Junction, so you’ll have to hop on the park shuttle to reach park highlights like Court of the Patriarchs, the Grotto, Weeping Rock, and Temple of Sinawava.

With some advance planning, tourists can partake in iconic Zion hikes like Angels Landing and the Narrows.

Angels Landing rises to a stunning viewpoint overlooking the heart of the park, while the Narrows is a hike in the middle of a river gorge between two mountains.

narrows zion

Possible Detours on the Vegas to Zion Drive

If you’re adventurous and have extra time to spare, then consider adding some of these detours to your road trip route.

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

Just 40 minutes east of Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel that harnesses the power of the Colorado River and Lake Mead. Guests can tour the powerplant and the passageways inside the dam.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area protects the country’s largest reservoir, with beaches, boat launches, and campgrounds that attract plenty of tourists.

Red Rock Canyon

joshua trees red rocks

The first obvious detour on this route is Red Rock Canyon, which sits just 20 miles west of Las Vegas.

I cannot recommend Red Rock Canyon enough. It features many of the same sights that Valley of Fire has: ancient petroglyphs, large boulders and rocks, and hiking trails. 

Gold Butte National Monument

Drive south on Gold Butte Road from Bunkerville, and you’ll reach an appealing, often-overlooked attraction.

Covering almost 300,000 acres of desert landscape, Gold Butte National Monument has petroglyphs, a ghost town, and a large population of desert bighorn sheep. 

Among Gold Butte’s highlights are Whitney Pocket and Little Finland, both of which offer hiking trails and interesting geologic formations, and Devils Throat, a fascinating 110-foot sinkhole in the middle of nowhere.

Utah National Parks

After spending time in Zion, it makes sense to continue the road trip on to the other four Utah parks: Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon.

A full Utah national park road trip would require at least a week. If you don’t have that kind of time, at least spend a day in Bryce Canyon, which is less than 2 hours away from Zion.

Arizona National Parks

inerior grand canyon

The Grand Canyon is 4.5 hours from Zion, and Petrified Forest is 5.5 hours away. You could do an entire Southwest national park road trip.

A motivated road tripper could swing down to these parks for a few days, and then loop back to Las Vegas.

Antelope Canyon

Located 2.5 hours southeast of Zion, Antelope Canyon is one of the most famous slot canyons in the U.S.

Most people visit between March and October, when the sunlight penetrates through shafts to the bottom of the canyon, highlighting its natural beauty. Visitors need a reservation with an authorized Navajo guide.

Salt Lake City

salt lake city

About 4 hours north of Zion, Salt Lake City is the biggest city in Utah. You’ll find a lot of fun and interesting neighborhoods and attractions here.

Tour the State Capitol building, visit the zoo, or drink at some of the city’s new breweries. Even the Mormon Church Grounds are worth exploring just to see the spectacle.

Monument Valley

Finally, another possible addition to the Las Vegas to Zion road trip is a visit to Monument Valley.

This cluster of elevated sandstone buttes located along the Arizona-Utah border is just over 4 hours from the center of Zion National Park. 

Alternate Option: Guided Tour

If you’re not up for a road trip, you can let someone else do the driving and join a guided tour from Vegas to Zion.

Here’s a popular single-day tour that starts very early in the morning and packs a lot of sights into a single day.

Zion and Bryce Canyon Day Tour From Vegas: This surprisingly affordable tour from Las Vegas visits two parks for the price of one. The downside is that time is limited. But you’ll still see a lot in 45 minutes in Zion and 90 minutes in Bryce Canyon National Park. Check pricing and availability.

Want another road trip option? Here’s our Vegas to Phoenix drive guide.

Do you have any other suggestions to add to a drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park?

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