A Weekend of Adventure in Zion National Park

Travel advisor Kathryn Evans smiling in a black dress with white printed scarf.
Curated By

Kathryn Evans

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  • Utah

  • Active Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • National Park

  • Hiking

  • Outdoors

Zion National Park orange cliffs.
Curator’s statement

With miles of trails and epic canyon views, Zion National Park is on the must-see list of any park, nature or adventure enthusiast. While no national park can truly be explored in a weekend, for many of us a weekend is all we have. This guide will show you how to hit the highlights plus schedule in some down time for reflection on this wow-inducing landscape. You’ll leave with amazing memories, a camera full of photos and hopefully the itch to come back and explore more on another trip to this gorgeous place!

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Where to stay

Cable Mountain Lodge

A stunning retreat nestled in the natural beauty of Zion National Park, offering panoramic views, comfortable accommodations, and convenient access to outdoor adventures.

Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton

Sophisticated riverfront hotel located on five acres with contemporary rooms and suites.

Travel advisor Kathryn Evans smiling in a black dress with white printed scarf.

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Day 1: Getting to Zion


Really we should probably say night one. Unless you’re one of the lucky folks that get to call Southern Utah home you’ll likely spend the first day of your weekend getting to Zion.

Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas is your closest option for flights, about a two and a half hour drive from the town of Springdale, Utah and the entrance gate to Zion National Park. It's a gorgeous drive and I highly recommend timing your arrival with sunset, if you can, for a golden-hour view of what’s to come.

Grab an early dinner before making it an early night — tomorrow is going to be an early morning! The Spotted Dog is a local favorite for casual farm to fork bistro fare.

Day 2: Get Ready to Check Off Your Bucket List - Angel’s Landing

Orange canyon, Angel's Landing.

Rise and shine before dawn, it’s going to be an exciting day! I recommend starting your Angel’s Landing hike just as the first light of sunrise starts to show in the sky. You can bring a headlamp if you’d like, but the first part of the trail is paved and well marked. The sky will light up quickly and soon you’ll be admiring the way the colors of the canyon walls change as the light changes.

Starting early means it will be cooler and also hopefully less crowded on the trail, too. There is now a lottery system in place through Zion National Park to apply for a permit to hike Angel’s Landing - the lottery opens throughout the year in three month windows - working with a travel advisor means we’ll make sure you don’t miss the window for your preferred date.

Angel’s Landing is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the views from the top are breathtaking. If you’re not feeling up to hiking the infamous “chains” that’s okay - you can grab a seat on a rock at a spot on the trail called Scout Lookout and wait for the rest of your party or just enjoy the views as passing hikers fade into the rock face in front of you. Take your time and enjoy the views. This is one of the most amazing trails you’ll ever hike, but also one of the most dangerous.

The whole trail is 4.3 miles and has over 1,800 feet of elevation gain. Once you’ve made it back down from your climb you’ll be ready for a shower and lunch! Head back to your hotel to get cleaned up and refuel at Cafe Soleil, a popular spot with ample vegetarian and vegan options.

Once you’ve had a chance to rest and re-live your morning adventure through the many photos you’re bound to take, head back into the park to enjoy a scenic drive or ride on the Zion park shuttle.

Known as the Zion Park Scenic Byway, the road through the park is also part of Utah State Route 9 and includes the historic Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. The road and the tunnel have been named a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. There are multiple shuttle stops and pull-outs at various viewpoints and additional trail heads if you’re feeling like you’ve got a few more miles in your legs.

When you’re done exploring for the day, head to the Zion Canyon Brew Pub for local brews, delicious bites and an expansive outdoor area complete with lawn games.

Day 3: Continue Exploring the Park

Visitor center in Zion.

Enjoy a leisurely morning before heading to the Happy Camper Market to provision yourself a picnic lunch. With your picnic packed, head back into the park and toward the Watchman Trail.

The Watchman trail runs 3.1 miles with just over 600 feet of elevation gain - no sweat after yesterday! The trail includes views over the Watchman Campground, park visitor center and majestic Watchman peak. The peak is believed to be named because it towers over, and watches over, the southern entrance to the park. Enjoy the hike and your picnic lunch — remember to pack out all of your trash before heading back to the visitor center.

The Zion Canyon Visitor Center is a super-green structure with solar panels providing 30% of the building’s electricity, 80% of lighting coming from natural light, and cooling towers that help maintain the building’s temperature. The park estimates that the building’s green features save $14,000 and 310,000 lbs of CO2 emissions annually. Spend your afternoon enjoying the various exhibits and information boards that explain more about the park’s history and its flora and fauna.

End your weekend with dinner on the patio at King’s Landing Bistro enjoying the amazing canyon views and seasonal menu. Toast to the adventure you just had and the next one I’m sure you’ll be ready to start planning on the ride home!

Travel advisor Kathryn Evans smiling in a black dress with white printed scarf.

Travel Advisor

Kathryn Evans

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Utah.