Zion National Park (nps.gov/zion) is one of the world’s great outdoor destinations, drawing visitors from as close as St. George or as far away as China throughout the year.
Whether you’re looking for climbing, hiking (highly strenuous and beginner-level alike), biking, canyoneering, or backpacking, Zion’s got you covered. But if you’re looking for something a little more laid back, whether on its own or as part of a Zion adventure, Springdale, just outside the park, is an ideal home base. The town has shuttles to and from the park throughout the day, and a plethora of dining and lodging options.
Planning your adventure
Whether you’re a total novice or a hardened wilderness-dweller, having some help in planning your outdoor excursions never hurts. Zion Adventure Company (www.zionadventures.com, 36 Lion Blvd., 435-772-1001) offers customizable “Hike and Bike” packages that take into account your skill level, what parts of the park you’d like to see, and whether you’d like to take it easy or push yourself. Zion Rock and Mountain Guides (www.zionrockguides.com, 1458 Zion Park Blvd., 435-772-3303) leads excursions through canyons just outside the park, as well as partway through Zion‘s famous Narrows. The guide can only take you part of the way, but can certainly come in handy when it comes to traversing chest-high water and other impediments. Both companies also offer rental equipment for those looking to strike out on their own.
Where to stay
Whether you’re thinking posh or back-to-basics, Springdale’s lodging options have you covered. Hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, and camping options abound. Cliffrose Lodge (cliffroselodge.com, 281 Zion Park Blvd., 800-243-8824), just 200 yards from the park entrance, has a fantastic view overlooking the Virgin River. One of the nation’s classic National Park hotels, the Zion National Park Lodge (www.zionlodge.com, 435-772-7700) offers suites, hotel rooms, or cabins with front porches and fireplaces. If you’re looking to get a bit closer to Mother Nature, camping sites are available not far from the park as well. South Campground offers spaces on a first-come-first-served basis, and Watchman Campground requires advance reservations.
Grab a bite
If you’ve worked up an appetite hiking and climbing, fear not; Springdale’s got dining options aplenty. Get a hearty breakfast at Oscar’s (www.cafeoscars.com, 435-772-3232, 948 Zion Park Blvd.), which offers homey specialties like Hank’s Horseshoe (toast and potatoes baked and piled with everything but the proverbial kitchen sink). Oscar’s is often packed to the seams with locals and tourists alike even during the slow seasons, but it’s well worth the wait. Late risers and night owls will be thankful for Wildcat Willie’s Ranch Grill and Saloon (www.wildcatwillies.com, 435-772-0115, 897 Zion Park Blvd.). The restaurant serves breakfast until 1:30 pm for those who have overslept after karaoke there the previous evening. Be sure to try the Wild Game Meatloaf, which includes elk and bison meat.
To hear more about Zion, including interviews with locals and outdoor guides, listen to Travel Brigade’s Zion episode by clicking here: