Red and pink of the sandstone cliffs in Zion National Park

Awesome Las Vegas to Zion National Park Road Trip

Las Vegas is a convenient fly and drive city for road tripping to national parks and public lands and serves as a ideal base for exploring other parts of the southwest. One of the easiest, and prettiest, routes is from Las Vegas to Zion National Park.

The majority of the drive is interstate if you want to get there asap but there are so many fun and interesting things along the way why would you want to? Here’s how to slow it down, plus a few things to do along the way.

Las Vegas to Zion National Park

Las Vegas, and southern Nevada, are two of my favorite U.S. destinations. I’ve road tripped to, at least, seven national parks from Las Vegas and driven this route from Las Vegas to Zion National Park multiple times solo and with my daughter who lives in Nevada.

This article covers the fastest route to Zion National Park from Las Vegas with minimal stops but I’m also including an alternate, slower route that takes you through Lake Mead National Recreation area as well. Let’s go!

How Long Does it Take to Drive From Las Vegas to Zion?

The quickest way on I-15 from Las Vegas to Zion National Park is approximately 160 miles, if you drive it straight through with no stops, and should take around two and a half hours. The alternate route that I suggest is approximately 180 miles and is 3 hours and 15 minutes with no stops.

Driving from Las Vegas to Zion can easily be done, even the alternate route, in a day but two days is optimal and could easily be extended to three or four days, adding in a few of the other places in southern Nevada and Utah. Use the map down below to get a better visual of the route and the area.

Need a rental? Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) is one of the most affordable and best places to rent a car – another perk of using Las Vegas as a fly and drive base. Discover Cars offers 24/7 customer service and no hidden fees. And allows you to check dozens of rental agencies so you can compare prices and pick your favorite.

Las Vegas to Zion National Park Road Trip Stops

There are an overabundance of places and activities that could be incorporated into this Las Vegas to Zion National Park itinerary, however, the stops listed below are just a few of my favorites. As you’ll see, this route is high customizable to your own preferences and interests.

Also, for this Las Vegas to Zion National Park road trip, I’m going to assume you flew into Vegas and maybe plan on spending a few days around the city first. If so, make sure to take advantage of all the fun things to do, many of them free, and do a bit of local exploring. Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area, the Hoover Dam and Boulder City, are all other noteworthy places.

To use this map, click on the icon on the left hand side of the title to see the map layers. Check or uncheck whichever layer you want or don’t want to see. You can also add the map to you own Google account by highlighting the faint star to the right of the title. For more info on the points of interest in layer 4, click the icon on the map or click on the name in the list. You can also get directions.

Las Vegas to Overton, Nevada

When you plug in directions to Zion National Park from Las Vegas in Google Maps, no doubt the route it chooses is Interstate 15. And that’s fine if your objective is to get to Zion as quickly as possible, then that’s really the only route.

However, if you prefer to make a day of it and slow down the pace, consider including one of, what I believe to be one the most scenic drives in Nevada. Not only can you take it slow but it’s also a chance to see a bit of Lake Mead National Recreation Area and maybe spot some wildlife.

Depending on where you are staying in Las Vegas, there are a couple of options for driving into Lake Mead National Recreation area. From the airport, or south Las Vegas, head towards Henderson and Lake Las Vegas. Just a couple of miles beyond Lake Las Vegas is the entrance station to Lake Mead. (See Google Map layer 3)

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a fee based park so you will need to pay $25 or have an America the Beautiful Park Pass. If you don’t have an America the Beautiful card, here’s your chance to go ahead and get one. Especially since Zion National Park is also a fee based park.

After you enter the park, make a left on Northshore Road, a 62 mile scenic route offering stunning views of rugged mountains, unusual, otherworldy landscapes and unparalleled views of Lake Mead. Connecting the, what’s now the recreation area, with historic Moapa Valley, this is hands down one of the best driving routes in Nevada.

Southerner Says: if you’re in north Las Vegas or the strip and don’t want to travel all the way to Henderson and Lake Las Vegas, you can drive Las Vegas Boulevard into the park. This route does not have an entrance station. Las Vegas Boulevard ends on Northshore Road. Take a left to continue into the park. (See Google Map layer 2)

As you drive through the park, you’ll come across areas like Redstone, with rocks so red they look like someone painted them, Echo Bay, or E Bay, hmmm, that sounds familiar and Rogers Springs, a hot springs oasis with palm trees. All these are must-see along with any of the other interesting places you find. As you continue through the park, be on the lookout for wild horses, burros and big horn sheep.

When you exit Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Northshore Road practically ends where Valley of Fire State Park, begins so you can easily drive Northshore through Lake Mead in the early morning, spend some time in Valley of Fire and then be on your way to Zion.

The entrance fee for Valley of Fire is $10 for Nevada residents and $15 for non-residents. While I suggest spending longer in the park, If you are worried about time, you can still get a lot of bang for your buck just from driving the two main scenic roads. Pop into the visitor center to learn more about the formation of the park. If you only have time for one other stop, then make the short walk to Atlatl Rock to see its impressive petroglyphs.

From Valley of Fire State Park, continue on to Overton, Nevada to tour the Lost City Museum. Not only is the building itself a historic treasure, built in 1935 by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), something that park lovers will appreciate, but the museum contains an actual archaeological site excavated in the 30’s, reconstructed pueblos and petroglyph panels.

Southerner Says: to drive the Northshore of Lake Mead, visit Valley of Fire and the Lost City Museum, you will need to backtrack a few miles, via Highway 169, to Overton and the Lost City Museum after visiting Valley of Fire State Park before continuing to Zion on Interstate 15.

If you decide not to drive Northshore Road through Lake Mead National Recreation Area, you can still add Valley of Fire State Park and the Lost City Museum, to your Las Vegas to Zion National Park road trip itinerary.

For that option, take exit 75 on I-15, enter Valley of Fire at the west entrance and drive the Valley of Fire Highway, exiting through the east entrance. Go left on Highway 169 toward Overton and Moapa Valley and visit the Lost City Museum before returning to I-15 via Highway 169. (see Google Map layer 1)

Overton, Nevada to Mesquite, Nevada

Leaving Overton, the drive takes you through the Nevada’s ancient Moapa Valley and once you reach the interstate, it’s just a short 30 miles to Mesquite. This mid-size interstate town is a good place to overnight especially if you’ve spent all day adventuring. Offering hotels like the Eureka Casino Resort or the Rising Star Sports Ranch Resort, it’s the perfect place to break up your trip after a long day.

Staying over in Mesquite also gives you the opportunity to check out some art at the Mesquite Fine Arts Center, visit the Virgin Valley Heritage Museum, featuring information about the early pioneer settlers in the area, plus, visit the Donkey History Museum managed by a local donkey rescue to fund their mission.

Mesquite, Nevada to the Virgin River Gorge, Arizona

The drive from Las Vegas to Zion on I-15 is generally pretty tame but it does have one of my favorite sections of interstate, the Virgin River Gorge. It’s also worth mentioning that you’ll cross into the upper northwest corner of Arizona before entering Utah.

This area is referred to as the Arizona Strip. Home to the Kaibab Indians, and other Natives Americans, this slice of Arizona was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 19th century. Sparsely populated and virtually cut off from the rest of state because of the Grand Canyon, the Arizona Strip is a wealth of natural wonders, cultural significance and history.

And the Virgin River. If you didn’t already know, the Virgin River is the main river that flows through Zion National Park. It empties into Lake Mead, or before the lake was created, the Colorado River. Along with the Muddy River, the Virgin River is one of the most significant rivers in Arizona, Utah and Nevada.

To cross the 500 million year-old gorge, formed by the Virgin River, Interstate 15 winds and weaves its way along the river through the canyon, creating one of the most exciting and awesome interstate drives in the U.S. And one of the most expensive. In fact, one of the last bridge repairs, in the mid 2000’s, alone cost more than the entire project in the 70’s.

Because of the nature of the road, there aren’t many waysides and places to stop but the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) maintains the Virgin River Canyon Campground (exit 18) that’s worthy of a stop to stretch your legs and take a walk or short hike.

I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona is one of the places you have to drive through from Las Vegas to Zion National Park
Entering the Virgin River Gorge on Interstate 15 in Arizona

Virgin River Gorge to St. George, Utah

Besides the “Welcome to Utah” sign, the remaining drive on Interstate 15 until you get to the state line is pretty insignificant but from the state line to St. George there are plenty of sites that could be added to a Las Vegas to Zion itinerary. White Domes Nature Preserve, Tonaquint Nature Center and St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site are just a few to mention.

This area of Utah also boasts several nearby state parks to enjoy. Sand Hollow State Park, Quail Creek State Park and Snow Canyon State Park are close to St. George and could easily be added to a Las Vegas to Zion road trip.

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area is another stunning area just north of St. George on I-15, offering amazing hiking and a small first-come first-served campground. For those that like to count on a campsite, there’s also a nearby KOA.

The white Navajo cliffs at Snow Canyon State Park
Snow Canyon State Park can be added to a Las Vegas to Zion National Park road trip

St. George, Utah to Hurricane, Utah

The last bit of interstate driving from St. George is to exit 16, where you’ll trade the freeway for smaller Highway 9. Alternatively, you could exit at number 13. I started utilizing this exit, because at one time, it had relatively no traffic compared to other exits. Plus, there’s a Maverick for fueling up before hitting the small towns on the way to Zion.

Maverick is a Wyoming-based convenience store brand that’s popped up across the western states. You can count on clean restrooms, deli and hot food and just an overall good experience. As St. George spreads out, this exit has grown like crazy in the last few years but I still like to stop at the Maverick for anything small, like the always important ice for the cooler, before heading to Zion.

Once you get on Highway 9, it’s just 19 miles to Hurricane. If you’re planning on camping near Zion and need supplies, the last real chance you have for a big haul is the Walmart Super Center in Hurricane. Personally, I try not to stop here because it’s typically really crowded but if you need something very specific or a lot of items then this is the place.

Near Walmart are several chain hotels. Comfort Inn & Suites and Sleep Inn & Suites are both rated high. I personally have not ever stayed at either, but if I wanted to explore more of the area, then these are good options and better choices since they are newer than some of the properties closer to downtown Hurricane.

Hurricane, Utah to Zion National Park

You’re almost to Zion now. All that’s left is the drive through the remaining small towns before you arrive at Zion National Park. In La Verkin, one of my favorite stops is River Rock Roasting Company, a local coffee shop with a killer view from their back patio. The breakfast is good, the burgers are good and the coffee hits the spot. If you’re in a big hurry, they also have a drive-thru in Hurricane but its not the same vibe.

Also, La Verkin is the last place to buy groceries at a decent grocery store. Davis Food & Drugs is the only one in town, along with a Family Dollar that offers a few basic food items. There are a few smaller markets and deli’s in Springdale, next to Zion, but nothing the size of these two stores.

Then, once you make the turn on Highway 9, just north of La Verkin, you’ll see more campgrounds and accommodations. Zion River Resort is a huge RV and tent campground with good amenities and clean facilites and Zion Wildflower Resort, features a collection of small cottages and covered wagons. Additionally, the ever popular Under Canvas Zion is nearby as well.

Springdale and Zion National Park

When you get to Springdale, you’re practically in the park. Remember Zion is a fee-based park so you will be required to pay a $35 fee ($30 for a motocycle) or present an America the Beautiful Park Pass to drive into, or through, the park. Even if you don’t have plans to ride the shuttle into the canyon, you still will need to pay.

A few years ago, Zion tried out a reservation system for the shuttle into Zion Canyon but that’s no longer required. The only activities where a reservations, or a permit, is needed in Zion National Park is to hike Angels Landing and Virgin River Narrows.

Once you make it to the park, don’t miss the visitor center, the hiking trails and walks along the Virgin River and pretty much just enjoying amazing beauty and colors of Zion National Park. Being in the canyon and surrounded by the towering walls is a unique national park experience.

Zion National Park can get crowded during the busy season and it can be hard to find parking. If staying in Springdale, then take advantage of the free Springdale shuttle into the park. (Not to be confused with the shuttle inside the park that takes you into Zion Canyon and the scenic drive).

You’ll probably want to get to the park as early as you can when visiting in busy months. Doing that, and implementing a few other tips for avoiding the crowds in Zion National Park, you’ll get the most out of your visit.

Zion National Park Tips

  • Pick up a National Park Service map and newspaper at the entrance station Also, if you plan on spending some time in the area you can never go wrong with a more detailed map. This National Geographic Zion one is really useful.
  • I also suggest buying a Zion guidebook. James Kaiser is one of my favorite national park writers and he has written a really informative guidebook about Zion. Moon Guides, another fav, offers a Zion and Bryce Canyon guidebook.
  • Be aware that if you plan on hiking Angels Landing while in Zion, permits are required. You can find out more info on the Zion’s website here.
  • Cellular service is spotty in the canyons of Zion National Park and surrounding areas but ultimately it really depends on what carrier you use. I have Verizon and have never have good service in Southern Utah but my daughter uses AT&T and she generally has better service than me.

Need a place to stay in Zion National Park? The park has its own lodge and two campgrounds plus there’s plenty of BLM land around Zion for dispersed camping. Not a camper but enjoy uniques stays? Then consider a cabin or covered wagon at Zion Wildflower Resort, located in Virgin, just a few miles from the park.

When is the Best Time to Drive From Las Vegas to Zion National Park?

Zion National Park is open year round, weather permitting and there’s really no bad time for driving to Zion National Park from Las Vegas. The weather in Las Vegas is generally pretty temperate, even in winter, so flying in and out of Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) is easy.

But since Zion sits at a higher elevation, around 4,000 feet, it’s not unusual to encounter snow and icy conditions in the winter months. As long as the weather is good, then you could drive from Las Vegas to Zion any time of the year.

You should also keep an eye on the weather during the summer monsoon. The canyons are prone to landslides and flooding and sometimes trails close due to rock slides. Always check the forecast before you go, especially in places like The Narrows where the water can rise very quickly.


Spring in Zion National Park is a beautiful time of year to visit. If they has snow, it’s melted and the temperatures are mild. The park is bursting with new growth and you’ll have the opportunity to see more water in the river and waterfalls. Spring is a busy time at Zion but not as busy as summer. Average daytime in the 70’s.


Summer is the busiest time at Zion National Park. You’ll need to be strategic about when you go. There are a few things you can do to avoid the crowds in the park. Summer is also monsoon so the probability of rain and even flooding increases in June, July and into August. Definitely pack a rain coat or lightweight jacket. Average temperatures in the 80’s.


Fall is also a good time to visit Zion. Some of the summer crowds have thinned out and it’s not as hot. Dress in layers and remember that the Zion shuttle into the canyon runs until December. Visit the park website for the exact dates that may vary from year to year. I visited in late November one year and it was cool but perfect.


With an elevation of 4,000 feet, winter in Zion is cold and there’s always a chance of snow and ice. Some of the park roads and trails may even close. January will be the coldest month with highs in the 40’s based on recent years data. The bonus of visiting in winter is that it’s not shuttle season so you can drive your own car into the canyon.

Other Road Trip Ideas Around Las Vegas to Zion National Park

Kolob Canyons is another section of Zion National Park that could be included in a Zion road trip. Instead of exiting the interstate at Hurricane, continue north for approximately 25 miles to exit 40. This section of Zion has the same red Navajo sandstone canyons as the main park with way less crowds. (Map Layer 5)

Bryce Canyon National Park is another a good addition to a Las Vegas to Zion road trip since it’s so close. Bryce Canyon is just 84 miles from Zion National Park and is a fairly straightforward drive. Plus, it’s easy to visit and make a big loop and return to I-15 through the Dixie National Forest. (Map Layer 8)

Another route suggestion is after visiting Zion, head east to Mount Carmel Junction and then south on Highway 89 to Kanab. There are oodles of things to do in, and around, Kanab. When you’re ready to return to Las Vegas, use Highway 389 through Colorado City and Apple Valley to Hurricane and the interstate. I have more info coming soon on this road trip route. (Map Layer 6)

And if you want to see Zion and the Grand Canyon at the same time, drive south from Zion and and make a big loop, visiting the Grand Canyon and Sedona then return to Las Vegas or even Phoenix. Or you could do that in reverse, starting with the Grand Canyon, around the east side of the park and north to Zion through Kanab. (Map Layer 7)

Final Thoughts About Las Vegas to Zion National Park

Visiting Zion National Park from Las Vegas is a near perfect road trip itinerary. It’s ideal for anyone; families with small children will appreciate it because of its short distance and solo road trippers will enjoy the simplicity, and safety, of driving to Zion.

It’s also simple to return to Las Vegas, or if you have time, continue on a southern Utah national park road trip. You could also end your trip in Salt Lake City and fly from there. Honestly, between Nevada and Utah, the possibilities are virtually endless.

As you adventure and explore, remember to use Leave No Trace principles when visiting national parks, sacred areas and public lands. And always leave it better than you found it.

See you on the road!

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