Zion is a magical national park located in one of the most picturesque areas of Utah. In this article, we’ll discuss how to get to Zion National Park, including the best airports to fly into and the best roads to drive!
If you are flying to Zion National Park, the closest airport is the St. George Regional Airport, which is about 45 miles away. If you’d rather fly into a larger international airport, then book your tickets to the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
Driving to Zion National Park? You’ll drive along Highway 9 to get to and through the park. This article also describes the other scenic roads in the Zion area.
My name is Ash, and I’m a former park ranger. I used to live just outside of Zion National Park, so I know the park well! I can’t wait to help you plan your upcoming trip to this stunning national park.
Let’s talk more about how to get to Zion National Park, including my advice for the best airports and roads in the area!
Where is Zion National Park Located?
Zion National Park is located in Southwestern Utah. It is approximately 45 minutes from St. George, UT, 4.5 hours from Salt Lake City, UT, and 2.5 hours from Las Vegas, NV.
The nearest national parks to Zion are Bryce Canyon National Park (1.5 hours) and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (2 hours).
The closest town to Zion National Park that has a decent number of amenities is Springdale, Utah.
What is the Closest Airport to Zion National Park?
St. George Regional Airport
The St. George Regional Airport is the closest airport to Zion National Park. If you don’t mind flying into a small airport and would like to minimize your drive time, you can fly into the St. George Airport and only have a 45-minute drive to the park! This airport is serviced by Delta, American, United, and Allegiant Airlines, and connects to bigger hubs like Salt Lake City, Denver, and Phoenix.
Cedar City Regional Airport
The Cedar City Regional Airport is another small airport in the area (about 1 hour from Zion National Park), but it doesn’t offer many flight options. It is only serviced by Delta Airlines, and the only flights going in and out of this airport are connections to the Salt Lake City International Airport.
What is the BEST Airport for Visiting Zion National Park?
For the majority of people coming to Zion, it will make the most sense to fly into the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, NV, or the Salt Lake International Airport in Salt Lake City, UT.
McCarran International Airport
Flying into Las Vegas has a lot of advantages, which makes it my number one choice for flying to Zion. You’ll have to rent a car and drive about 2.5 hours to get to the park from here, but there is so much to see in the area!
Besides being in Las Vegas (party!), you’ll also be perfectly situated to hit multiple national parks from this airport, making it the perfect base for your trip. A route I recommend is Vegas to Zion National Park (2.5 hrs), Zion to Bryce Canyon (1.5 hrs), Bryce Canyon to the Grand Canyon North Rim (3 hrs), Grand Canyon North Rim to Page, AZ (2.5 hrs), Page to Grand Canyon South Rim (2 hrs), and then the South Rim back to Vegas (4.5 hrs).
Now that’s an amazing trip!
If you’re looking for cheaper prices and lots of flight options from anywhere in the world, the McCarran Airport is a solid choice for your Zion vacation.
Salt Lake International Airport
Many people fly into Salt Lake City to see Utah’s National Parks, including Zion. It takes about 4.5 hours to get to the park from here.
The drive to Zion from Salt Lake City is a little less exciting than the route from Vegas (and you don’t hit as many points of interest along the way), but hey, it works! You can easily see all of Utah’s national parks by flying in and out of Salt Lake…many people also add on parks like Grand Teton and Yellowstone from there as well.
A sample route to the Utah National Parks from the Salt Lake Airport would be Salt Lake to Arches/Canyonlands National Parks (4 hrs), Arches to Capitol Reef National Park (2.5 hrs), Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon National Park (3 hrs), Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park (1.5 hrs), and then Zion to Salt Lake (4.5 hrs).
You could also complete this loop from Las Vegas. It makes more sense to fly into Vegas if you also want to add in the Grand Canyon.
Traffic and crowding in Zion can be terrible.
Did you know that it’s common to wait an hour or more to enter the park or catch the free park shuttle?
Are you hoping to see the best sights without getting stuck in traffic, circling parking lots, or being surrounded by people?
Stay ahead of the crowds with this Zion Itinerary. You will see all of the can’t-miss spots, plus get lodging and dining guides, driving directions, and insider tips!
The Best Roads In and Around Zion National Park
If you’re driving to Zion, you’ll encounter some fabulous scenery through Utah’s vast wilderness areas! Here are some things you can expect on the roads in and around Zion National Park.
Highway 9 (St. George to Zion)
Highway 9 is the main road through Zion National Park, and you’ll take this highway if you’re coming into the park from either St. George on the west side or Mt. Carmel on the east side.
From St. George, you’ll drive through the town of Hurricane and up the hill to the small towns of Virgin and Rockville before arriving in Springdale. Springdale is the main gateway town to Zion National Park, and you’ll find many restaurant and lodging options here. The South Entrance to Zion National Park is just seconds from Springdale.
From Mt. Carmel, you’ll drive along Highway 9 to Zion’s East Entrance. This area is mostly just beautiful scenery — you won’t find much by way of amenities. Mt. Carmel Junction does have a restaurant, a gas station, and a souvenir shop, but that’s about it. The East Entrance area is the quieter part of Zion, so enjoy the solitude and keep an eye out for wildlife!
You’ll go through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel as you drive along Highway 9 between Springdale and the East Entrance. This historic tunnel is over a mile long and was completed in the 1930s!
Can I drive this road in an RV? Yes, you can drive Highway 9 in an RV…with conditions! This road is fine for RVs, but if you will be driving through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, you will need a special permit to do so. Because the tunnel is narrow, you will not be able to get your RV through without traffic control (they make the tunnel one-way temporarily for large vehicles). Learn how this works before you go.
Highway 89 (Bryce Canyon to Zion)
Highway 89 is the road you’ll drive if you’re traveling to Zion from Bryce Canyon or Grand Canyon National Parks. It’s just a regular ol’ road, good for all types of vehicles.
If you’re traveling to Zion along Highway 89 in an RV and plan to enter the park via the East Entrance, be sure to check the tunnel restrictions and get a permit for the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel (Hwy 9) or you won’t be able to get to Zion from Highway 89.
Kolob Terrace Road (Virgin to Zion’s Lava Point Campground)
The Kolob Terrace Road travels through a remote area of Zion National Park — this is the road you’ll use to access the Subway Trail, West Rim Trail, and the Lava Point Campground.
It starts in the town of Virgin (about 10 minutes west of Springdale) and travels up onto a plateau. The views up here are gorgeous! The Kolob Terrace Road is paved, but many of the parking areas and pullouts are not. The side road that leads to the Lava Point Campground is narrow and unpaved, so vehicles longer than 19 feet are not permitted.
This road is closed seasonally near the Hop Valley Trailhead because the snow does not get plowed.
If you’re driving an RV, you may find it difficult to park/turn around along the Kolob Terrace Road, and you will not be able to access the Lava Point Campground or West Rim Trailhead.
Kolob Canyons Road (A small section of Zion near Cedar City)
The Kolob Canyons Road is a short 5-mile scenic drive through the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park. This road is often confused with the Kolob Terrace Road (listed above).
The Kolob Canyons Road is paved and highlights the gorgeous red cliffs of Zion. You’ll find a few nice trails along this road, such as Taylor Creek and Kolob Arch. The road dead-ends at a viewpoint and picnic area.
This area of the park is about 45 minutes from Springdale and the main part of Zion. The turnoff is located along I-15 about 20 miles south of Cedar City.
If you’re in an RV, you’ll be able to drive this road and find parking in several spots. The viewpoint at the end of the road has RV parking and enough room to turn around.
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive branches off of Highway 9 as it travels through Zion National Park. This road leads to the most popular sights in the park, such as the Zion Lodge, Angels Landing, the Narrows, and Emerald Pools.
I mention this road because, for most of the year, you cannot drive your own vehicle here. The park runs the free Zion Canyon Shuttle to the main points of interest along this road. You will need to park in Springdale or at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to catch the shuttle if you wish to access this part of the park.
This information should help you get to Zion fast — there are so many fun adventures waiting for you in this majestic national park. Have a great trip!
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