Out of all the national parks, Zion National Park is one that requires careful planning of both the visit (and we have already talked about this in the article on how to visit Zion) and the overnight stay. Why? Maybe you didn’t know this, but the park is divided into two sections that are not connected internally (Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyons), which makes it a bit more complicated. Moreover, the fact that you can’t visit Zion Canyon with your car can create some headaches.
In short, the choice of where to stay in Zion may vary depending on the time you have to visit Zion and the next stop on your road trip, which is usually (but not always) Bryce Canyon. So here are some tips on finding accommodations.
Lodging in Zion National Park
Let’s start with the main section of the park, Zion Canyon, which can be reached via the scenic SR-9. This is undoubtedly the part of the park most frequented by tourists, also because all the most beautiful and famous trails are here. So if you’re doing a tour of the Southwest, you’ll most likely need to arrange overnight accommodations to visit it.
Hotels inside the Park
Are you one of those people who prefer to sleep inside national parks? In Zion, the choice is very limited, because the only place within the boundaries of Zion National Park is located in Zion Canyon. It’s called Zion Lodge and it is the ideal solution in terms of comfort, charm and location. This magnificent rustic hotel is located right on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, in a central location, surrounded by verdant grass and trees below the red cliffs. There is also a restaurant and bar in the immediate vicinity.
One of the main advantages is that as a guest at Zion Lodge, you will be able to enter the park with your car all the way to the hotel, even during road closures (see our in-depth guide on Zion shuttles).
Accommodations in Springdale
If there is no more availability at the Zion Lodge, you can always find accommodations at one of the hotels in Springdale, which is ideal if you want to be near the entrance of Zion Canyon. Here are some recommendations:
- Zion Park Motel: excellent value. Large rooms with a very pleasant rustic interior design, which is quite common in Springdale. There is a swimming pool and also a nice barbeque area with mountain views. You have the possibility to leave the car parked here even after check-out in order to visit the park. You can take the Springdale Shuttle to get to the park (the stop is very close by). Porter’s Smokehouse and Grill is within walking distance and is highly recommended!
- Cable Mountain Lodge: this is one of the most popular places in all of Springdale, and not just for the beautiful accommodations (apartments and suites) and the view of the Virgin River. The main reason is that it is located virtually adjacent to the Visitor center, which can be reached on foot, without needing to move your car from the parking lot or use the shuttle. It is also worth mentioning that there is a convenience store on-site as well as a swimming pool overlooking the mountains.
- Flanigan’s Inn: beautiful rustic/mountain style inn with a restaurant attached. The rooms, which allow you to look out at Zion, are spacious with all amenities included. The stop for the shuttle that takes you to the visitor center is in the immediate vicinity of Flanigan’s Inn.
- Bumblerry Inn: in this comfortable and popular traditional motel, the rooms have been renovated and have a modern design. It has a great location with a remarkable view of Zion, excellent breakfast and also a swimming pool with a jacuzzi.
Accommodations on Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway
As you can read in our in-depth guide on the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, this scenic road stretches east of Zion Canyon towards Bryce-Kanab. In the first section of the highway, there are no towns to stay overnight, although, on a side road, 15 miles from Springdale, you will find the Zion Ponderosa Ranch, a Western-style resort that is in a strategic location for visiting Zion Observation Point, the most beautiful overlook over Zion Canyon.
Best Places to Stay Near Zion National Park
If you are not interested in any of the accommodations in Springdale, you can consider looking in the towns and cities below:
West of Zion Canyon (towards Las Vegas)
- Rockville: 10 minutes west of the park. It is very close to Springdale but offers a small selection of accommodations, so you need to book in advance.
- Hurricane: 30 minutes west of the park. This is convenient for those who want to get directly on SR-9 and travel from west to east.
- St. George: a large town in southern Utah with many accommodations. Located west of Zion Canyon, it is ideal for those who want to visit both sections of the park (Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyons), since it’s about halfway between the two areas.
East of Zion Canyon (towards Bryce Canyon or Kanab)
- Mt. Carmel Junction: 45 minutes east of the park. Ideal for anyone who also wants to be close to Bryce Canyon. Also close to Bryce Canyon is a town called Hatch.
- Glendale: about an hour northeast of the park. Here you’ll find some nice cabins and vacation homes surrounded by nature (see next paragraph).
- Kanab: a city founded by pioneers. It is located about an hour southeast of the park and is perfect for those who are headed to Page or the Grand Canyon North Rim. Click on the link (where it says Kanab) and you will find an article with tips on where to sleep and what to see in Kanab.
For a wider selection, have a look at the list of hotels below.
A Recommendation for an Overnight Stay between Zion and Bryce…
Before concluding, I must also mention The Wandering Star Inn in Glendale, which is perfect for those who traveling from Zion to Bryce Canyon or vice versa. This particular Bed & Breakfast is strongly recommended to those who would like to spend some time in peace and quiet in nature, interrupted only by the hummingbirds singing and the meowing of the cats who belong to Ron, the very nice and welcoming host. He is a former chef who, after the restaurant closed, opened a rustic wooden bungalow with all amenities. If you stay a few days, Ron might decide to organize a barbecue in the garden for you. If you stay less time try to ask him ahead!
Where to Stay when Visiting Kolob Canyons
If you don’t have time to visit Zion Canyon and you want to make a quick visit to Zion National Park and still see some very picturesque views, you should definitely visit Kolob Canyons, which is easily accessible by taking I-15. Usually, the main reference point for visiting this section of Zion is St. George, also mentioned above as a place to stay near Zion Canyon. In fact, this town is perfect for those who want to be halfway between the two sections of the park in order to visit both of them.
Most travelers, however, visit Kolob Canyons while they’re going from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon without taking SR-9. It may also be useful to mention two other towns that may prove to be strategic for those heading to Bryce. They are:
- Cedar City: Located on the highway, this town is a good compromise for those who want to get close to Bryce Canyon without driving too far past Kolob Canyons. Nearby is a hidden gem known as Cedar Breaks National Monument.
- Panguitch: The most suitable solution for those who want to be where SR-12 begins. From there, you will cross the Red Canyon and you can reach Bryce Canyon in a very short time.