When looking at where to stay for Zion National Park, there are five areas to consider.
The main section of the park is on Highway 9, next to the town of Springdale, Utah. This is the area known for the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Though the entire park is beautiful, this is most likely the area you have come to see.
In this post, we go over four areas that work well for visiting the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and why you may prefer one over the other. We’ve also included where to stay when visiting the further away Kolob Canyon area of Zion National Park.
Staying at Zion National Park Lodge
The most sought-after accommodation for Zion National Park is the onsite lodge. By far, it’s the most convenient place to stay. It puts you right in the middle of the main canyon on the scenic drive. It’s close to many of the hikes and has easy access to the shuttle.
Zion Lodge is open year-round and offers 76 hotel rooms, 6 suites, and 40 cabins. Though this may seem like a lot of accommodation, they book out months in advance. Actually, I just did a quick search for a year from now, and more than half the rooms are already gone.
Rooms also include free onsite parking. You’ll get a gate code and a pass, so you don’t have to hunt for a parking space at the visitor center.
There’s a restaurant and also a smaller cafe onsite, plus a gift shop.
Staying in Springdale, Utah
Most folks visiting Zion National Park stay in Springdale. It’s a very small town of mostly accommodation, restaurants, and gift shops. But it’s just outside the main canyon of Zion National Park, making it very convenient.
Not only are you close to the park, but there’s also a free shuttle that runs through the town to the Zion National Park Visitor Center. At the visitor center you’ll need to switch to the park shuttle bus. This is much better than hunting for parking if you’re getting a late start to your day.
In our opinion, accommodation in Springdale is way overpriced, but you can’t beat the convenience.
- Zion Canyon Lodge – We stayed here on our trip. It was one of the more reasonably priced hotels in the area. The room was clean and comfortable, and the location made getting into the park a cinch. That’s really all we needed since we spent every waking minute in the park and not hanging around the hotel.
- Cable Mountain Lodge – This is where we wanted to stay, but it was already booked out. The rooms include free parking and have kitchenettes. It’s the closest hotel to Zion’s visitor center. You can literally walk there in less than five minutes instead of waiting for a shuttle.
Staying in the Town of Virgin
The town of Virgin is around 20 minutes away from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to the west. There are not too many accommodation options but staying here can save a little money.
However, if you need to pay for parking in Springdale, it may eat away at what you saved. Keep in mind, parking in Zion National Park is free but fills up by 9 am. Parking in Springdale is not free and requires waiting on a shuttle.
Also, the road to visit Lava Point or Kolob Reservoir starts in Virgin.
Staying Near the East Entrance of Zion National Park
The east side of Zion is much more remote. There are not really any close towns. However, there are a few ranches which provide their own unique experience.
This area may be a good choice for anyone wanting to do both Zion and the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park without moving hotels.
- Zion Mountain Ranch – This beautiful ranch offers cabins in a serene setting on a buffalo preserve. The east entrance of Zion National Park is only 5 minutes away. Though the visitor center and the main area of the park, is 35 minutes away.
Staying in Cedar City to Visit Kolob Canyon in Zion
The Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park is about a 50-minute drive from the Springdale entrance. You can of course do this in an easy day trip if you are staying multiple days in Springdale.
However, we visited Kolob Canyon at the end of our road trip through Utah’s National Parks. For us, it was easier to get a hotel in Cedar City, just off Interstate 15. Staying in Cedar City made it convenient for Kolob Canyon, and Cedar Breaks National Monument, another park we highly recommend seeing.
- Abbey Inn – We stayed two nights here on our trip. Though it was nothing fancy, it was clean, comfortable, convenient, and reasonably priced.
Continue with our Visitor’s Guide to Zion National Park or check out our other posts from Utah.