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Seven Adventures to Get Your Heart Pumping in Greater Zion

Whether you’re a seasoned adrenaline junkie or enjoying a newfound appreciation for the great outdoors, you’re sure to find a memorable adventure in Greater Zion. Its northeast neighbor and namesake, Zion National Park, is a beloved destination for adventurers of all kinds – but there are plenty of other equally epic draws among the collection of communities that thrive within a close radius of Zion. 

From St. George to Pine Valley, Santa Clara to Springdale, there is adventure in every direction. There are rock walls begging to be climbed, singletracks begging for a mountain bike, and iconic red vistas surrounding you on any and every pursuit you take on. 

Here are seven adrenaline-inducing adventures that will get your heart pumping in Greater Zion.

1. Mountain Biking on Gooseberry Mesa

Move over, Moab – the mountain biking trails of Gooseberry Mesa more than hold their own with everything from rip-roaring singletrack to adventurous slickrock to flowy stretches alongside pine and juniper trees. Plenty of technically challenging terrain keeps MTB veterans stoked, while a spot locals refer to as “God’s Skateboard Park” offers a divine place to hone your trick skills. The entire trail is situated under an open, sunny sky with expansive views of Zion National Park’s stunning red and white cliffs.

mountain biking on the edge gooseberry jaydash

2. Skydiving

Imagine jumping out of a plane, flying through the air at 120 miles per hour, rolling, turning, and flipping as you please. The brilliant red landscape of Zion National Park and desert communities of St. George, Hurricane, and more wait for you below. You yank the parachute ripcord and begin to float, swaying in the breeze, feeling the warmth of the Utah sun, and admiring the creation that is Greater Zion. Just ask anyone who has jumped: Skydiving in Greater Zion is an out-of-this-world experience that will stick with you for life. When you combine that adrenaline rush with the reverent beauty of the desert, it’s hard to forget.

3. ATVing in Sand Hollow State Park

Cruise over sand dunes and down into valleys at one of several state parks in Greater Zion: Sand Hollow. Ranked among Utah’s best ATV playgrounds, you can ride as fast or slow as you like, enjoying technical challenges or the simple thrill of zooming through the desert. Take off during late afternoon or evening for a sunset adventure, and prepare to be awed by the sky lit up with the same brilliant red and pink hues as the desert rocks. This is the kind of experience you can share with the whole family without missing out on any of the thrill.

UTV driving on sand dunes

4. Ziplining Green Valley Gap

Views of Greater Zion’s desert scenery are elevated to new heights (literally) while soaring along one of the longest zip lines in Utah. Green Valley Gap offers a thrilling ride some 800 feet long, zipping from one canyon wall to another. After a quick hike for some elevation gain, your guides will strap you in and send you across the valley – but the fun doesn’t end there. Ziplining pairs nicely with other adventures like hiking, climbing, rappelling, ATVing, etc. depending on the itinerary you choose. 

5. Rock Climbing

If you take a close look at almost any rocky formation in Greater Zion, you’ll likely spot a climber. Greater Zion is filled with world-class climbing spots, and why just admire the scenery when you can be part of the picture? Rock climbing offers a workout and an unforgettable adventure all rolled into one, with breathtaking views for the entirety of your journey and a new, climber-exclusive viewpoint waiting for you at the summit. The wide variety of climbing terrain in Greater Zion makes for plenty of options for all skill levels, and newbies can sign up for a guided course to learn the basics of gear, belaying, proper safety measures, and climbing techniques. After that, you can head out to start sending some pitches of your own.

6. Canyoneering

Beneath the sand and sun of Greater Zion’s deserts, more adventure awaits in the network of canyons that expand both within and far beyond Zion National Park. Explore this sandstone labyrinth that extends above and below ground, with narrow slot canyons and vast gorges. Wade through water, rappel down into caves, or scale rock walls to find out what awaits around the next twist of the smooth red-and-orange canyon walls. Some canyons are accessible via simple but spectacular hiking trails; other, more challenging options require advanced wilderness techniques, permits, and a guide. There are several outfitters that offer guiding services and teach the basics of canyoneering.

Man rappelling down slot canyon wall.

7. Rappel Down Cougar Cliffs

This adventure is a two-fer: Hike to the top of the red rocks of the Cougar Cliffs, then ratchet up and rappel down the cliff face instead of going back the way you came. Cougar Cliffs is a great place to learn the art of rappelling, with a few low-angle options, as well as some vertical, not-for-the-faint-of-heart, 75-foot-long rappels. 

It takes a bit of courage to take that first step backwards off of a steep cliff, but the thrill and the views are totally worth it. How many people can say that they have taken in the expansive views of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve while practically hanging upside down? Go with a guide service to learn all about anchors, how to set up a rappel, and how to try a few rappels on your own. Adrenaline is built into Greater Zion, just like it’s built into you. Explore the thrills and everything else this corner of Utah has to offer here.