There aren’t many National Parks that I can think of that has such an incredible mix of harrowing heights to knee-high water hikes, rocky landscapes and lush greenery. As far as the Big Five of Utah, Zion National Park is a must-visit.
As you’re planning your visit, you’ll need to find the best place to stay in Zion National Park whether inside or nearby. The accommodation options are plenty and cater to a travellers of all types. Let’s break it down.
Currently, all shuttles are not operational at Zion National Park.
Parking is extremely limited and Scenic Drive will be closed when all parking is full. Kolob Canyons is fully closed.
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Where to Stay Near Zion National Park
These are your best options when it comes to finding accommodation options in or near Zion.
Staying Inside Zion National Park
When it comes to the best place to stay in Zion National Park, your choices are going to be pretty limited and it’s going to be quite the race to get those bookings.
Nothing is first come first served (except one campground) so you have to plan quite far in advance.
Zion National Park Lodge
This is a historic lodge that gives you an opportunity to stay inside a National Park, similar to where you can stay in Yosemite and The Majestic Yosemite Hotel.
Mere footsteps away from epic hiking, and the 146,000 acres of cliffs, canyons, plant-life, and animal-life in your backyard, Zion National Park Lodge (or Zion Lodge for short), is comfortable and spacious but of course the trade off is that you’ll be paying a premium for staying here.
The lodge evokes a strong sense of history and rustic design that comes from the original architecture of Gilbert Stanley Underwood when it was built in the 1920s and then rebuilt again in 1966 before it was fully restored in 1990.
The lodge’s original rustic design was sacrificed at the time but was restored to its original classic appearance in 1990.
Zion National Park has 3 campgrounds and two of those are located in Zion Canyon.
South Campground is one of them and is extremely popular because sites are so limited.
Located half a mile from the South Entrance, there are 117 campsites (3 are wheelchair accessible).
There are some large group sites that can accommodate 7 to 15 people, up to 5 vehicles and a maximum of 6 tents.
Adjacent to the South Campground is a larger site with 190 regular sites, 7 wheelchair accessible sites, and 6 group sites.
Watchman Campground is 1/4 miles from the South Entrance with tent and electric sites available throughout the year.
The 6 group campsites are tent-only and can accommodate 7 to 40 campers.
If you plan on coming here with an RV, this campground is a good fit as it has a special loop specifically for them. Check out these RV rentals in Ontario.
The Lava Point Campground
1-hour drive from Zion Canyon on the Kolob Terrace Road is a small and somewhat more basic campground.
Despite being a primitive site, the view from here is impressive and is at an elevated level compared to the rest of the park so it’s also cooler in temperature.
There are 6 campsites here that are first-come first-serve. The campground has pit toilets and trash cans but no water.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Zion National Park, Springdale, UT 84767, United States
Rates: Free on first-come first-serve basis.
Staying Nearby Zion National Park
The truth is, unless you’re intent on camping in the park or able to plan incredibly early, you actually may be better off staying in one of the towns that surround the National Park. Here are the best places to stay near Zion National Park.
At the footsteps of the South Gate of Zion National Park is Springdale and would be one of my first choices if you’re looking for a place to stay by the park.
La Piazzetta Guest House
“Location is unbeatable, very close to pier, beaches, Piazza Tasso and many restaurants. Valentina and Alex are very friendly and helpful. Room is very useful and beds are very comfortable. We stayed there last year and again made a reservation, we didn’t think to find new place to stay this year.”
Grand Hotel Aminta
This hotel is a top choice in Sorrento with incredible views such as the Bay of Sorrento and Mount Vesuvius. Live the high-life with free Wi-Fi, beach towels, deck chairs, a pool bar and live music and dancing at night. You won’t want to leave after experiencing this level of luxury during your stay.
Holiday Inn Express Springdale
Amidst the red rock cliffs, the Holiday Inn brand may not scream luxury but it is one of the most sought after properties that is more lodge than it is an inn. The property offers free wifi, high ceilings, refrigerator, tea, and coffee-making facilities. The best part is the outdoor pool, hot tub, and sun terrace.
Cable Mountain Lodge
Adjacent to the Zion National Park Visitor Center, this Springdale lodge offers a seasonal outdoor heated pool and a hot tub with canyon views. Free Wi-Fi is provided. Bonuses include rooms with microwave, mini-fridge, and AC. Therey also have a picnic area and private beach along the Virgin River. This is a luxurious cottage suite.
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If you’re coming up from Las Vegas in the south or looking for more affordable accommodations, the larger gateway city of St. George is a great option.
You’ll find more affordable hotels here but the trade off is that you’re 55 minutes away from the south entrance to Zion National Park.
For our particular trip up to Zion, we used St. George as a pit-stop location and as a place to pick up supplies as the last large city with a Walmart before heading up to Springdale.
Best Western Travel Inn Saint George
This is everything you’d expect from a Best Western. The property offers a seasonal outdoor pool, free parking, and free wifi. In each room, you have a coffee maker, refrigerator, and microwave. Free continental breakfast is also served daily. They also have an outdoor pool.
FANS OF HILTON
Hampton Inn & Suites St. George
For those that are loyal fans of Hilton, this is a great option that remains affordable. Modern rooms come with a mini-fridge, microwave, coffee machine, and hairdryer. They also offer free breakfast, a pool, hot tub and fire pit.
Inn on the Cliff
Now if you plan on spending some off time here and really making use of the pool and hot tub, this property has remarkable views of the city and surrounding red rock. Rooms have private balconies, AC, free wifi, mini-fridge, and coffee-maker. Breakfast is also free.
This is a vacation home rental that’s great for large groups and families. All rooms feature hot tub, air condition, and AC. The pool here is massive and they also have water sports, tennis court, and family rooms. Estancia Resort offers a barbecue. Bike hire and car hire are available at the resort and the area is popular for hiking and cycling.
The city located to the north of Zion National Park is Cedar City. It’s only 20 minutes from the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center and just over an hour to the southern entrance to the park.
One thing you should note is that the entrance to Kolob Canyon is separate and does not connect with the rest of Zion National Park.
Often overlooked, Cedar City is a great base of operations for your trip to not only Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, and Dixie National Forest. This is quite the advantage over some of the other cities and towns mentioned so far.
The below are 4 great options to consider that range from low to high prices.
Clarion Inn & Suites
This Clarion is located right off of the I5 highway and is a comfortable and renovated inn with complimentary breakfast, indoor pool, and spa. Pets are also allowed here. This is considered to be great value for the money.
Ramada by Wyndham
Another great budget option in Cedar City with free shuttle to the airport, free wifi, and daily breakfast buffet. In the rooms you’ll find it furnished with a microwave, small fridge and coffee-making facilities. The hotel has a fitness center and sauna.
La Quinta by Wyndham
This is a modern hotel off the I-15 with easy access to Zion National Park. Rooms have coffee machine, toiletries, and hair dryer. They also boast a free daily breakfast, wifi, and indoor pool.
Big Yellow Inn
This is a charming bed & breakfast that features a Victorian-style grand staircase and 8 fireplaces. All rooms are equipped with wifi and a full hot breakfast is served daily. The hosts are friendly and helpful in making sure you have a great stay.
Lastly is the area that surrounds the alternative entrance – the East Gate which is one of the best places to stay in Zion National Park.
By being based on the eastern side of the park, you get extremely quick access to the trails on this side and is also much quieter than the other places mentioned so far since there’s no city based here (the closest would be Kanab).
An attractive part about East Zion are its unique accommodations which are perfect for those wanting a combination of outdoor and adventure experiences. From glamping to rustic cabins, you’ll really love being out here.
In addition, adventure activities are often bundled with these properties which makes it perfect for those wanting to have plenty to do with the family over the course of multiple days.
Lastly, being on the East also puts you close to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.
Best Western East Zion Thunderbird Lodge
This hotel is only 15 minutes from Zion and features an outdoor pool, hot tub, restaurant, free wifi, and free parking. Rooms have either a mountain or pool view and are stocked with free toiletries and a hairdryer.
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort
For our trip to Zion National Park, we stayed here because of the resort features they had here. Not only do they have glamping tents and cabins, you also get access to ATVs, skeet shooting, and canyoneering. They also helped organize our two-way transfer to The Narrows hike.
Zion Mountain Ranch
Ever wanted stay on a ranch on a buffalo preserve with incredible views? Suites include a microwave, mini-fridge, and coffee machine. From horseback riding, canyoneering, mountain biking, hiking and fly fishing, there’s no shortage of fun things to do on the ranch.
Arrowhead Country Inn and Cabins
This is a picturesque country cabin where you have your own porch and is run more like a family B&B. An exceptional full breakfast is included. The property also has a hot tub, outdoor pool, and BBQ facilities. All cabins include a fireplace, kitchen, and private bathroom.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most convenient is Springdale, Utah. With access to numerous outfitters, restaurants, services, and shuttles, it doesn’t get easier to get in and out of the National Park. As a runner up, most people sleep on East Zion and I think it’s a great well-rounded area especially with the likes of Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort where you can mix and match Zion with ranch activities
The park is open 24 hours and is not barricaded after hours and is by honor system. You do need a pass to enter and it’s expected that you show your ticket on your car dash. If you plan on entering early in the morning, plan ahead and purchase a pass the day before during operating hours.
Watchman Campground is open year-round, but only takes reservations from March to November.
South Campground is open from March to November.
Lava Point Campground is open from June through October (weather dependent)
No, the Zion National Park shuttle starts from the visitor center. However there is a separate Springdale shuttle that takes you to to the visitor center where you can then transfer to the National Park shuttle.
Yes, most allow pets but some do charge a cleaning fee for pets (typically $20 USD).
Leashed pets may be walked on the Pa’rus Trail. All other trails, and all wilderness areas, are closed to pets. Pets are also not allowed on shuttles (exception are service animals). Pets are allowed at campgrounds.
Summer is insanely hot with little to no cover which is why it’s not recommended to go July to August. Spring and Fall have the best temperatures which make it great times to visit (April, May, September, and October). Typically temperatures range between 60F and 90F.
The standard entrance pass for Zion National Park is valid for 7 days.
With the standard recreation pass, you don’t need additional permits to enjoy the park. There are requirements however for those looking to do the special hikes, canyoneering, and backcountry hiking. This includes The Narrows, The Subway, and Left Fork. Some are so popular that there is a lottery system to obtain these permits.
If you’re driving an RV and planning on crossing the Zion Mount Carmel Tunnel, you’ll need a tunnel permit for $15 USD.
Yes, they are connected by State Route 9 (SR-9).
This depends on how many hikes you plan to do and how much of the park you’d like to see. At a minimum you will want to go to the both Emerald Pool trails, Angel’s Landing (if you’re not afraid of heights), and Temple of Sinawava. To do these, I’d recommend a minimum of 2 days. If you plan on doing any special hikes with permits, this could easily expand to 4 to 5 days.
Well that covers all of your options for the best places to stay in Zion National Park. The park is an unbelievable experience that has to be visited at least once in your life time.
If you have the time and want to do an adventurous multi-day hike, I highly recommend The Narrows. To this day, this is still #1 on my list of hikes in the world.