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Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Travel Guide

Zion National Park to Grand Canyon

Located in Southeastern Utah, Zion National Park is only 3 hours from Las Vegas Nevada, which is the closest major city.  One of several National Parks in Southern UT, Zion is an amazing place to visit on your way to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim or other Grand Canyon Destinations. Utah’s first National Park, Zion is renowned for its towering cliffs and awesome slot canyons.  The unique sandstone formations in Zion National Park are various shades of pink, red and cream, which add to their extraordinary beauty.  From sightseeing and hiking to rock climbing and canyoneering, Zion is one of the best parks to visit on your way to the Grand Canyon and other great nearby parks. Read the guide below to learn more

Zion to Grand Canyon Travel

Driving Distance from Zion National Park, UT to Grand Canyon

  • Zion to Grand Canyon North Rim is 112 miles, a 2 hour 20-minute drive.
  • Zion to Grand Canyon East Rim is 111 miles, a 2 hour 5-minute drive.
  • Zion to Grand Canyon South Rim is 241 miles, a 4 hour 15-minute drive.
  • Zion to Grand Canyon West Rim is 285 miles, a 4-hour 50-minute drive.

Zion to Grand Canyon Car Rentals

Although there is a shuttle in the park, if you want to visit other National Parks like the Grand Canyon, it’s best to have your own vehicle.  You can pick up a rental car in Las Vegas or any other major city you are traveling from. Once you arrive, there is a free shuttle in Zion National Park as well as several private companies that run shuttles in the area.

Grand Canyon Tours from Zion National Park Utah

There are a few guide companies that include Zion in a Grand Canyon tour package, but most guides are focus on Zion National Park. Zion has amazing scenic drives, great campgrounds and guided trips that include a step accent up Angel’s Landing or a hike through the Zion Narrows.  Canyoneering is also a popular past time, and Zion National Park has many technical slot canyons to choose from.  Just keep in mind most of Zion’s hikes require a permit, which you can get in advance or at the visitor center.  Zion is also well known for its rock climbing routes and you can see climbers ascending its big walls, or hire a professional tour guide and try it out for yourself. 

Best Restaurants in Zion and on the drive to Grand Canyon

Inside Zion National Park the only place to eat is the Zion Lodge.  Springdale, Utah right outside is your best bet close to the Park, or Mt Carmel Junction if you are headed towards the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park or Bryce Canyon. Kanab, Utah and Jacob Lake, AZ also have some great restaurants on the way to the North Rim.

Best Hotels in Zion National Park near Grand Canyon

Zion Lodge is the only accommodation within Zion National Park and it books quickly during the high season. Just like Grand Canyon lodging, make a reservation well in advance if you want to stay here on your way to the Grand Canyon.  Outside of the Park’s south entrance in Springdale, Utah there are many lodging options.  If you leave Zion from the east entrance en route to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon or Bryce Canyon National Park, there are a few lodges outside the park and in Mt. Carmel Junction.  There are also three campgrounds in Zion National Park.  Watchman and South Campgrounds are located near the South Entrance, while Lava Point campground is located at the north end of the park on Kolob Terrace Rd.  For people with RV’s there are several RV parks outside the south entrance and one smaller park outside the east entrance.

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Popular hotels near Zion National Park

Learn More About Zion National Park

With an average annual visitation of over 2.6 million people, Zion like the Grand Canyon is definitely a busy park. Zion’s weather is known to be unpredictable, especially in the spring when storms are common. Overall, the spring and fall seasons are the best times to visit Zion but summer can be a great time too, especially if you plan on doing some canyoneering.  Just keep in mind summer is hot and school is out so the Park is very busy.  Winter in Zion is fairly mild and although the park gets snow, clear sunny days in the 50’s are not uncommon and you’re sure to have more solitude during the low season both here and at the Grand Canyon.  Zion National Park charges an entry fee for private vehicles and camping and hiking have additional fees.  Like most National Parks fees for food, lodging and other services are high.

  • Environment of Zion National Park: At 150,000 acres Zion isn’t one of the west’s larger national parks, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty.  Zion National Park is a landscape of colorful canyons and step cliffs, leaving much of the park inaccessible.  The main road follows Zion Canyon through the Southern end of the park, and from here you can see how the creative power of water carved out this landscape.  Zion sits on the edge of the Colorado Plateau and uplift of the sedimentary rock in this area created the conditions water, wind and ice needed to carve out the Navajo Sandstone and other sedimentary rock formations that formed the Zion we know today.
  • One of the biggest dangers in Zion are flash floods that are not uncommon during the summer monsoon season in the parks many narrow canyons.   Check in with the Backcountry Permit office and make sure it’s safe if you aren’t familiar with the local conditions.  The summer heat can also be an issue and it is important to stay hydrated, wear sun block and get out of the sun when the temperature is just too hot.  Although you probably won’t see one there are rattlesnakes so be aware.
  • Zion Plants and Animals: Zion National Park’s location on the edge of the Colorado Plateau and close proximity to the Great Basin, Mojave Desert and Basin Range as well as a 5,000-foot variation in elevation give this area a great diversity of plant and animal life.  Zion has over 40 species of reptiles and amphibians, 78 species of mammals, and almost 300 species of birds including the Mexican spotted owl, mountain lions, and desert tortoises.  This variation in landscape also means local life zones include flora from desert scrub, arid grasslands, pinyon-juniper and ponderosa pine, and mixed conifer forests, as well as riparian areas along the parks many perennial water sources.  
  • Zion Culture and History: Although human history began in Zion nearly 12,000 years ago, permanent settlements started about 2,500 years ago when the Anasazi started growing crops and making permanent settlements in Zion.  Due most likely to drought the Anasazi left the area which was later settled by the Paiute Indians who thrived in the area until the arrival of Europeans and Mormon Pioneers.

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