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The Greater Zion Visitor Center is a must for anyone interested in exploring the natural wonders of southwest Utah.

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Extending Your Zion National Park Itinerary

Zion National Park is a magnificent red rock playground; but that’s no anomaly in Southern Utah. Greater Zion is home to world-class state parks, reservoirs, and vistas. Although it’s impossible to experience every facet of southern Utah’s glory in just one weekend, this itinerary will take you through the highlights, including Zion National Park and beyond.

pioneerpark stgeorge family hiking

Day 1: Arrive in St. George

Kick off the long weekend,  St. George and surrounding towns make a perfect basecamp for Greater Zion adventures. Visitors can either fly into St. George’s regional airport (serviced by Delta and America), make the 4.5-hour drive from Salt Lake City, or fly into Las Vegas and make the two-hour drive to St. George.

You’ll find familiar hotels in downtown St. George and Washington. Spanning beyond the bigger cities, you’ll find charming, local B&Bs, vacation rentals, and glamping accommodations. Campsites are also available in Zion National Park or the state parks.

Wilderness is a large part of Greater Zion, but this is no food desert. Chuck your bags and head out for some great eats that are uniquely Greater Zion.

Evening Activity

If you plan ahead, grab tickets to a Broadway-style show in the middle of Padre Canyon. It’s Tuacahn Amphitheatre, an outdoor facility that produces high-quality Disney and well-known musicals throughout the summer. Watch the stars on stage as well as above.

Bonus Activity

Anytime you have a minute, insert a stop at a historic site. You’ll find pioneer history around every turn.

Springdale Ad Photo

Day 2: Exploring Zion National Park

The secret to a great day at Zion National Park? Arrive early. The park entrance can be a one-hour drive from St. George. Start your day at the Visitor Center to check for weather, wildlife, and trail alerts and take this time to ensure you’re prepared for the adventures ahead.

Once you fill up your hydration pack and put on your sunblock, it’s time to hit the trails. Hiking in Zion is one of the park’s main attractions and trails range from family-friendly loops to grueling 12-mile treks. Permits are required on some of the more strenuous hikes, like Angels Landing, so check requirements ahead of time. There are also drivable viewpoints like Lava Point Overlook, where you can take in the scenery without the hike.

Where to Eat

Pack your lunch in (and out!) or stop for a bite in the nearby town of Springdale. For dinner, satiate your post-hike hunger in St. George or Springdale or stop by Balcony One in Virgin on your way back to home base.

Bonus Activity

Stay up late for some stargazing in Zion National Park. As an accredited Dark Sky Park, it is one of the best places to stargaze in the country.

Women in yoga pose on stand-up paddleboards.

Day 3: A Day on the Water

After yesterday’s activities in Zion National Park, even experienced hikers are sure to wake up sore. Get your body moving with an early morning yoga session and feel better during today’s activities (and trust us, you’ll want to!) Consider a paddleboard yoga session on the water, or visit one of the many studios in downtown St. George.

It’s no surprise that Southern Utah gets hot during the summer months. In-the-know visitors find places near St. George to cool off in the water. Sand Hollow and Quail Creek state parks are two of these glimmering oases:

Sand Hollow State Park

Sand Hollow State Park lies only 25 minutes from the center of St. George, near Hurricane, where crystal clear waters lap against the pebbly red shore. Although popular, you’ll see much smaller crowds here than at Zion National Park. Sunbathe on the red sand, cliff jump into and swim in the clear blue waters, or rent a boat and jet skis for the day. Extend the fun by tearing up the sand dunes on a guided UTV tour.

Quail Creek State Park

Or, relax and cool down at Quail Creek State Park, a smaller and lesser-known state park only 20 minutes from St. George. Primarily a fishing destination, this scenic reservoir also encourages swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and boating with onsite rentals.

Couple standing atop the Cinder Cone with view of Snow Canyon State Park

Day 4: Departure

Start the last day of the trip the right way: by fueling up at one of Greater Zion’s best breakfast restaurants. Afterward, here are two options to make the most of your last day in St. George.

Take a Morning Hike

Sneak in one more hike before you head out. The nearby Snow Canyon State Park, Zion’s “little brother,” has trails that wind through soaring cliffs, petrified sandstone dunes, and petroglyph sites. Another favorite is the Veyo Volcano – technically, a cinder cone – which does not have an established trail but is open to hikers nonetheless.

Treat Yourself to a Slow Morning

If you prefer to spend your remaining hours of vacation relaxing and exploring the culture and arts, St. George delivers. There are 16 art galleries and museums in the area, and if you’re lucky, you may catch one of the town’s annual art festivals. Or, you might opt for a morning ride on rental bikes before grabbing sweets at Veyo pies – a local favorite.