The road trip from Las Vegas to Zion National Park takes approximately five hours to complete. If you’re anything like me, sitting in a car for anything over two hours can seem like an arduous task. Luckily, there are plenty of stops on the way to Zion that can help liven up your road trip.
With a little research and plenty of our own personal knowledge, we’ve rounded up the top five places you have to make a stop at on your road trip from Las Vegas to Zion.
Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park features an extravagant display of multi-colored rocks which appear to be the colors of, you guessed it, fire. It features vibrant arches, unique rock formations, and miles of hiking trails that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Valley of Fire is also the perfect introduction to the red rock you will also see once you reach your final destination, Zion National Park. It’s also the first stop you’ll make on your trek to Zion.
Upon landing in Las Vegas, you’ll drive approximately 58 miles Northeast of the Las Vegas Strip to reach Valley of Fire. You’ll undoubtedly be impressed by this Mojave Desert gem and perhaps the best part of Valley of Fire State Park is you can spend as little or as much time here as you’d like. Whether you decide to spend half a day hiking infamous trails such as the Fire Wave Trail, or make a quick pit stop to see an Elephant shaped rock, Valley of Fire should be the first stop on your road trip from Las Vegas to Zion.
Silver Reef Ghost Town
Here in California, we are no strangers to ghost towns caused by the cessation of mining. Utah too had their own mining glory back in the late 1800s, which is evidenced by Silver Reef ghost town. When an extremely rare discovery of silver in sandstone was found, the mining town rapidly boomed over the next few years. By 1880, Silver Reef was home to a few major mining companies and business began to flourish in the area.
Just as quickly as Silver Reef rose, it also fell equally as fast when the boom came to an end. By 1881, a strike came about due to lowering wages. By the time the strike ceased, over half the work force had left Silver Reef. Today, one of the old mining town’s buildings still stands as well as the town’s original jail for visitors to see. Silver Reef is on the way from St. George to Zion, located about 15 miles northeast of St. George and a mile west of Leeds.
Fort Zion Gift Shop
Fort Zion is an eclectic gift shop you’ll find on the outskirts of Zion National Park. We spotted this unique destination from the side of the highway, it’s old-western-style structures beckoning us to come pay a visit. It’s a stop you’ll definitely spot from miles away, seemingly missed placed along the highway. Aside from its replica of a small western-style town, it also features a petting zoo, restaurant and gift shop.
The best part of the roadside attraction is you can make it a fairly quick stop if you’re in a pinch for time. The store has a vast array of unique souvenirs and food ranging from wild boar to prickly pear. The petting zoo outside the gift shop, at the time of our visit, was filled with animals ranging from goats to alpacas. We also explored the small makeshift town which was an adventure in itself. Overall, I’d recommend stopping off at the Fort Zion Gift Shop just for its sheer strangeness and bringing a souvenir along to commemorate this off-road gem.
Moqui Cave, despite its name isn’t an actual cave but rather a natural history museum near the town of Kanab, Utah. It features an impressive amount of Native American artifacts as well as a collection of dinosaur foot prints. A few of the coolest artifacts I saw were the fluorescent rocks which shine brightly beneath black light in the back cave. In addition to rocks, a decent number of minerals from around the world are also proudly on display.
Moqui Cave is conveniently located just 5.5 miles north of Kanab on scenic Highway 89. The museum and gift shop are open during the popular summer months from 9am. until 7pm Monday through Saturday. Moqui Cave is about a 30-minute drive from Zion, but is right near the town of Kanab, where you may find yourself staying if you are planning toi spend multiple days at Zion.
If you’re searching for solace from the somewhat heavy crowds you’ll find in the main canyon, the Kolob Canyons is a great alternative. This canyon is in the isolated northwestern section of Zion National Park, and is best known for its staggering deep red Navajo sandstone cliffs. The Kolob Canyons also won’t make you venture far to get to them, at just 40 miles of Zion Canyon, right off Interstate 15.
The five-mile drive through the Kolob Canyons will allow you and your hiking crew to take in some of the best views near Zion. With numerous hiking trails, you can take in the panoramic vistas by both foot and car.
It may be worth mentioning Kolob Canyons isn’t exactly on the way to Zion, but it also isn’t too far off the beaten path and is worth the side stop. It is less than an hour drive out of your way and is on the way to Bryce Canyon, should you be looking to extend your adventure further.
Have any stops you’d want to add on this list? Please let us know in the comments below!