10 Best Towns Near Zion National Park: How To Plan Your Stay

Looking for the best towns near Zion National Park?  Southern Utah is one of the most incredible places in the United States, especially for hiking enthusiasts like us, and we can’t seem to get enough of it.  

Because we grew up in northern Utah, we’ve visited Zion countless times and stayed in many of the towns nearby. We’ve tried out small towns like Washington and Hurricane, as well as the bigger cities of St. George and Cedar City.  

We’ll run through the pros and cons of each town or city, including things like the distance to Zion and other nearby parks, price, and nearby activities. 

We’ve organized the following list from closest to Zion to furthest away.  

Can You Stay Inside of Zion National Park?

So yes, there is one hotel inside the park itself, The Zion Lodge, but it is very expensive, and rooms fill up quickly. Besides the lodge, there are three campsites within the park: The Watchman Campground, the South Campground(currently closed), and the Lava Point Campground. These also tend to fill up quickly.  

Staying inside the park definitely has advantages, like not having to worry about getting to the park early to secure a parking spot and being able to easily make the first shuttle to hike Angel’s Landing.

However, because we don’t mind getting up early, we’ve found that we prefer staying in one of the towns outside of the park. Lodging is cheaper, and there are more options for food and other activities. 

1. Springdale

Distance from Zion Visitor Center: 5 minutes

If being close to Zion is your top priority, Springdale is the perfect choice. There are plenty of hotels and dining options, and there’s even a shuttle system that stops at various Springdale hotels to take visitors directly to the Zion Visitor Center.  This shuttle is free, and you won’t have to worry about parking in the Visitor Center parking lot, which can fill up very early (by 8 or 9 am during the summer months).  

Springdale is also where the Narrows drysuit gear rental companies are located, so staying right close makes it that much easier to rent and return your gear if you’re interested in doing this awesome slot canyon hike through the Virgin River.  

The big downside of staying in Springdale is that lodging is pricey. Most of the places we’ve looked at range from $300 to $400 per night. However, you can find cheaper options (in the $100-$200/night range), but you have to book very early. 

2. Virgin

Distance from Zion Visitor Center: 21 minutes

Besides the very tiny towns of Grafton and Rockville, the next closest town to Zion National Park is Virgin, and it’s still a very short drive from the Visitor Center.  There are a good handful of hotels and Airbnb options, and they are significantly cheaper than the stays in Springdale.  

Airbnbs cost $90-$120 per night, and for us, the extra 20 minutes of driving are well worth the money saved in lodging.  

Virgin is home to the Zion Wildflower glamping resort, which is the way to go if you’re looking for a unique, upscale camping experience.  You can stay in a grand mesa tent, a private bungalow, or even a covered wagon, and each stay has air conditioning and modern bathrooms.  

Finally, Virgin is where you’ll find Fort Zion.  This is a little place Kendall, and I stopped at during our last Zion trip together.  It’s basically a prop village with a bank, jail, saloon, and more.  And there’s a small gift shop and a few animal pens.  It’s not the most mindblowing thing you’ll see, but it can be a fun stop if you’ve got kids.

tourist standing in front of a wood structure with the word 'Saloon'.
We had fun posing in front of the Fort Zion buildings.

3. La Verkin

  • Distance to the Zion Visitor Center: 28 minutes
  • Distance to the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center: 16 minutes

La Verkin is located just to the west of Virgin, in between Virgin and Hurricane.  It’s a slightly bigger town than Virgin, so it has a few more dining options (like the River Rock Roasting Company or the Red Fort Cuisine of India).  

There’s only a 7-minute drive difference between Virgin and La Verkin, but Airbnbs in La Verkin are significantly cheaper (there are tons for less than $60/night). 

La Verkin is also the closest town to two fun trails: the Babylon Arch Trail (1.6 mi, moderate difficulty) and Gould’s Wash via Three Falls Trail (2.1 mi, moderate difficulty).

4. Toquerville

Distance to the Zion Visitor Center: 31 minutes

Toquerville is just a 6-minute drive north of La Verkin, along the road leading up to Kolob Canyon.  

If you have the time, Kolob Canyon is an incredible place to add to your Zion trip. It’s less crowded and has awesome hiking trails, like the Toquerville Falls trail, an 11.8-miler that leads to a beautiful bridal veil-like waterfall.  

If you like to get away from the crowds and are interested in spending a few days outside of Zion in places like Kolob Canyon, Toquerville can be a great choice. Stays are also very reasonable here (similar to La Verkin and Orderville).

Kolob canyon with snow-covered red rock

5. Hurricane

Distance to the Zion Visitor Center: 32 minutes

Hurricane is the other town near La Verkin and Virgin and is a little bigger, so you’ll have more lodging options.  

The best thing about staying in Hurricane is that you are right next to Sand Hollow State Park and Quail Creek State Park. Both of these parks have reservoirs for fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. If you’ve got extra time outside of your national park visits, these state parks are a great way to spend the day.  

6. Orderville (or the Mt. Carmel Junction)

  • Distance to the Zion Visitor Center: 45 minutes
  • Distance to Bryce Canyon: 57 minutes

Mt. Carmel Junction and Orderville, Utah, are located to the east of Zion National Park. They are a little further from the main Visitor Center entrance, but they are a perfect place to stay if you also want to visit Bryce National Park without changing where you are staying. It’s only a 57-minute drive from Orderville to Bryce Canyon.  

Orderville is also a great place to stay if you want to be right next to the Mt. Carmel tunnel/Mt. Carmel Highway or if you want to hike to Observation Point via the East Mesa Trail, as the East Mesa Trailhead is right off the Mt. Carmel Highway. 

 Besides the East Mesa Trail, there are a few other nearby trails you can check out, such as the ‘Belly of the Dragon,’ an easy 1.8-mile hike that leads to a cool tunnel cut in the stone rock wall.   

The other great thing about Orderville is that Airbnbs are quite a bit cheaper (most we looked at were around $60-$80 per night). 

overhead view of Bryce Canyon hoodoos
Our view of the Bryce hoodoos and rock formations.
rock formations in Bryce Canyon national park

7. Washington, Utah

  • Distance to Zion Visitor Center: 51 minutes
  • Distance to St. George: 12 minutes

Washington, Utah, is closer to St. George and is further away from the Zion Visitor Center (around a 50-minute drive).  However, it is a personal favorite of ours.  It’s a great combination of a small-town feel, but you’re also right next to the bigger city of St. George, with a ton of shopping, dining, and activity options.  

Washington is our top choice if you are going to be staying longer-term near Zion and want to spend a few days doing other things besides exploring national parks.  

I’m a big mountain biker, and Washington has some fantastic trails right next to the neighborhoods we stayed in. 

sunrise over red rock mountains in Washington, Utah, one of the best towns near Zion National Park.
When we stayed in Washington, I went on a morning bike ride to watch the sunrise, and it was gorgeous.

8. St. George

Distance to the Zion Visitor Center: 55 minutes

St. George is the largest city of the group, and one of the furthest away.  It’s almost an hour from the Zion Visitor Center, but it is another fantastic place to stay if you’re going to be in the area for more than a few days or if you want to do more ‘city-based’ activities while you’re in southern Utah.  

St. George is close to Snow Canyon State Park and Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Snow Canyon State is a fantastic place to visit and one of our family favorites. A paved looped path winds for over 18 miles through the park’s red rock formations, and this park tends to be far less crowded than the national parks. 

the red rock cliffs of Snow Canyon near St. George, Utah.
Snow Canyon is right next to St. George and is one of our favorite places to get away from the crowds.

St. George also has a fantastic network of mountain biking trails to the west of the city, near Santa Clara.  

9. Cedar City

  • Distance to the Zion Visitor Center: 1 hr 4 minutes
  • Distance to Bryce Canyon National Park: 1 hr 26 minutes )

Cedar City is the furthest north of the bunch and the furthest from Zion. However, it can be a great place to stay on your way back from your trip (if you are driving north to Salt Lake City) or if you want to visit Fishlake National Forest or Cedar Breaks National Monument.  

Cedar City is also slightly closer to Bryce National Park and Moab than St. George or any of the other towns to the west of Zion, like Virgin or La Verkin.  However, it’s still over four hours from Cedar City to Moab or Bryce, so if your main focus is either of these parks, you’ll likely want to stay further north.

10. Kanab

  • Distance to the Zion National Park Visitor Center: 1 hr 5 min
  • Distance to the Grand Canyon North Rim: 1 hr 45 min
  • Distance to the Grand Canyon South Rim: 3 hr 50 min

Kanab is also further away from Zion.  It will take you just over an hour to reach the Visitor Center and enter the park from the east side.  

However, Kanab is a perfect choice if you also want to hike the famous ‘Wave’ trail, visit Coral Pink Sand Dunes Park, or are trying to visit both Zion and the Grand Canyon.  Kanab is only 1 hr 45 min from the North Rim Visitor Center of the Grand Canyon and just shy of 4 hours from the Grand Canyon South Rim.  

While you wouldn’t want to make Kanab your home base while visiting the Grand Canyon, it would make the perfect one-night stay between heading from Zion to the Grand Canyon. 

sunrise view from the South side of the Grand Canyon
Our sunrise view from the South side of the Grand Canyon.

Towns Near Zion National Park: On a Map

How to Use This Map: The blue house icons are towns or cities, the green hiking icons are local hikes or other outdoor activities, the yellow stars are other attractions, and the red icon is Zion National Park. Click on each icon to learn more.

Best Towns Near Zion National Park: Our Summary

Best for closest access to Zion: Springdale

Best Combination of Budget/Proximity: La Verkin or Hurricane

Best For Longer Visits to Southern Utah: Washington, St. George

Best for also visiting the Grand Canyon: Kanab

Best for also visiting Bryce or Moab: Orderville

FAQ: 

Can You Stay Inside of Zion National Park?

The only hotel inside the park is the Zion Lodge, which tends to fill up quickly and is expensive. Three campsites are also available within the park: the Watchman Campground, the South Campground, and the Lava Point Campground. 

What Town is Best Between Zion and Bryce?

Both Orderville and Hatch are great towns between Zion National Park and Bryce. Orderville is closer to Zion and is next to the east entrance of the park, while Hatch is closer to Bryce. Both have hotels, Airbnb, and dining options. 

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