STEP FOUR: Book Your Lodging
>> Where should I stay? <<
Alright, you’re more than halfway there. Step Four is a fun one!
Let’s make your lodging reservations. I’m going to help you decide where you want to stay while visiting Zion. After this task is complete, it’s official….you’re making your dream trip a reality!
So go ahead and get out the list you made in Step Three….the one that has the points of interest you want to visit divided up by region. Which region has the most activities? You’ll want to book your lodging near that area of the park.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when visiting Zion is not factoring in all the traffic and parking issues — you could end up spending too much time in the car just trying to get from place to place. No fun.
If you can snag a reservation in the park, you’ll be able to eliminate a lot of the driving hassles. If you are unable to stay in the park, I recommend staying in Springdale. You’ll pay a premium for location, but it’s worth it to be able to easily catch the shuttle into the park.
There is only one lodge within the park (Click here to take a look). The Zion Lodge often fills six months to one year in advance. If there’s no availability, you’ll need to consider options outside of the park near the entrances (or camping if that’s your thing). Here’s what you can expect at each entrance:
South Entrance (Springdale)
If the Zion Lodge is completely booked, the next best place to be is in Springdale. It’s a hoppin’ place (and a little touristy) but it’s proximity to the park entrance is unmatched.
Springdale is a great jumping-off point for seeing everything in the park! From here, you’re close to the Visitor Center — this is where the shuttle picks up (mandatory most months of the year) to take you into Zion Canyon. The East side of the park is also easily reached from here.
If you’re flying into Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, you’ll likely enter Zion through the South Entrance. The town of Springdale has plenty of amenities, hotels, and things to do while still maintaining a small town feel.
East Entrance (Mt. Carmel)
There’s not a lot of activity near the East Entrance, but its a great place to stay if you’re interested in getting away from the crowds. From here, you’ll have quick access to the majestic Checkerboard Mesa, the stunning East Rim Trail, and the exciting Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel.
The sleepy town of Mt. Carmel sits about 20 minutes outside of the East Entrance. It makes sense to enter Zion through this entrance if you are approaching the park from Bryce Canyon or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Kolob Canyons Entrance
The Kolob Canyons Entrance is the smallest and least-visited entrance in Zion. It actually doesn’t connect to the rest of the park by road, which is why I don’t recommend staying near this entrance.
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet during your visit (and if you have some extra time and don’t mind a longer drive), Kolob Canyons makes a great day trip. The Taylor Creek Trail is a favorite of mine in the area.
Although this entrance is located just off of the main interstate (I-15), you won’t find much by way of lodging or services in the area.
It takes about 45 minutes to get here from Springdale, but I’d only make the trip if you have plenty of extra time to spare and feel like you’ve fully experienced the other parts of the park.
Kolob Terrace Road
The Kolob Terrace Road is another great way to experience solitude and beauty in Zion National Park.
On your way to the South Entrance of the park, you’ll pass through the town of Virgin. From here, you’ll find the Kolob Terrace Road, a narrow and winding road that travels into the park.
The most popular points of interest along the Kolob Terrace Road are the world-famous Subway hike (permit required) or the stunning West Rim Trail. These are both longer day hikes that require some advanced planning. If you haven’t planned ahead, you might still consider taking a drive along this scenic road — it does not disappoint!
Many people stay in the towns of Virgin or Rockville while visiting Zion National Park. These are quaint towns that offer some modest lodging options. Virgin makes a fine base camp for your Zion adventures, but I personally try to stay in Springdale to beat the crowds.
In a popular park like Zion, finding lodging can be a complex process. Determine what area of the park/entrance you’d like to stay in first, then start digging for the lodging that will best suit your needs. Rooms sure can get snatched up fast so let’s book your lodging!
If you’re interested in my recommendations for places to stay, I’ve included a helpful lodging guide with these Zion itineraries.
Alright, it’s time to tie up our loose ends so that you’ll have an awesome Zion vacation plan under your belt.