How to Get to Zion National Park (Trip Planner)

View of river through Zion National Park
Beautiful Zion National Park

You’re thinking about going to Zion National Park, but you’re wondering about the most affordable way to get there.  Maybe you’ve heard about the shuttle system at Zion and you’re wondering if you need a rental car.  In this article, I’ll give you some things I’ve learned through experience and through research to help you plan your trip. 

Unless you live within driving distance, the cheapest way to get to Zion National Park is to fly into Las Vegas, rent a car, and stay in a hotel in St. George, Utah. 

But is this the BEST way for you? Keep reading, because in this article I will cover a variety of scenarios, and give you the pros and cons for each.  I’ve also compiled a chart with my research below.  

Just a note: prices on flights, rental cars, and hotels obviously change often, but I believe the price differences between choices will remain consistent (for example, it will almost always be cheaper to fly into a big airport like Las Vegas over a small one like St. George). I also tried to search for different times of year to get a good feel for on and off-season prices. 

Entrances to Zion

Technically there are 4 entrances to Zion National Park:

1. The main entrance to Zion Canyon, the most popular place in the park, is through Springdale, Utah.  

2. The second most popular entrance is on the east side, on Zion-Mt Carmel Road.

3. Kolob Canyon is probably the third most popular entrance.  This is a stand-alone section of the park, and the entrance is located on I-15, on the west side of the park. 

4. The last entrance is the Kolob Terrace Road, which heads north from the city of Virgin, on the way to Springdale.  Again, this is its own section of the park.  This is where many long backcountry hikes are located, including the famous Subway hike.

Map showing different entrances to Zion

Basically, there are three entrances on the west side and one on the east side. 

If you’re visiting for the first time, you’ll most likely enter through #1 or #2.

Road Trip!

Map showing how to get to Zion National Park from different areas

The first way to get to Zion is the good old-fashioned American Road Trip. Some common options here are:

1. Driving from Southern California/Las Vegas on I-15. You’ll enter through the main entrance in Springdale.

2. Driving from the Grand Canyon.  From the Grand Canyon, it’s a 5-hour drive to the east entrance of Zion.

3. Driving from Bryce Canyon.  Again, you’ll enter the east entrance. A popular road trip is to see Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks, or some combination of them: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion.  Bryce Canyon is two hours away from Zion, and many people visit it before or after Zion.

4. Driving from Salt Lake or points north.  Some people will fly into Salt Lake City and see Utah’s capital city before driving south on I-15 to Zion.  The drive is about 4 hours. I’ve heard of people doing Yellowstone, then driving south (past Salt Lake City) to Zion, a 9-hour drive.


If you’re not an RVer or road-tripper, you’ll fly to Zion.  Here are your options for airports:

1. Las Vegas, McCarran International Airport 

Although it’s not the closest airport, this is easily the cheapest and best option, unless you want to see northern Utah or some of the other national parks in Utah (in which case you want to fly to SLC). It’s a 2.5-hour drive from Las Vegas to Springdale (the main entrance). 

I looked at flights from major cities like Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta, and flights were incredibly affordable.  They ranged from ~$75-$300 round trip.  Obviously, a lot of people like to go there to party, and no wonder! They make it so cheap to fly there so you can spend the rest of your money on slots. LOL.

2. St. George Regional Airport

St. George is the nearest mid-sized city (although growing rapidly) to Zion.  The St. George airport is really nice, but it’s obviously not a major airport. You will pay more to get there, and you’ll most likely need a connecting flight. 

3. Salt Lake City International Airport

You’ll drive about 4 hours from Salt Lake City to Zion National Park. So, it’s farther away from Las Vegas, and not any cheaper.

Again, the only reason (and maybe a popular reason) to fly into Salt Lake City is to see other sites in addition to Zion, such as Salt Lake City itself and the other national parks Utah has to offer. 

I didn’t include SLC in my comparison chart below, because you wouldn’t fly into SLC to save money or time, you would do it as part of a larger trip.

Transportation to the Park

Zion National Park is 2.5 hours away from Las Vegas and about 1 hour away from St. George.  So you’ll need transportation to get there.  There are two options:

1. Rental Car 

This is easily the best option.  It provides the most flexibility for you and is also the cheapest option. In my search, rental cars in Las Vegas averaged about $40 per day.  In St George, they averaged about $90 per day. 

If you’re not old enough to rent a car, or if you’re willing to spend a little extra to pay for a ride to your hotel and you want a hassle-free vacation (or some other reason you don’t want to drive), look at option #2. 

2. Taxi (or Uber)

If you’re not renting a car, the St. George Shuttle offers a taxi service. You could also take an Uber which is cheaper, but might not be guaranteed.  The taxi costs about $350 from St. George to Zion and back. Uber was about $200.

The St. George Shuttle provides transportation from Las Vegas to St. George and a taxi service from St. George to Zion.  So if you don’t rent a car, you’ll need to take a shuttle to St. George and stay there. Then you’ll need to take an Uber or taxi to and from the park each day which could get expensive.  

Here’s the link to the St George Shuttle schedule

Confused about How to Ride the Zion Shuttles?
Download our FREE pdf

Guide includes the Springville Shuttle, Zion Canyon Shuttle, What to Do at Each Stop, Handy Tips + Maps

Transportation at the Park

There are a few things to know about transportation once you get to Springdale, Utah — the city that sits right next to the main Zion Canyon entrance.

Zion Canyon is narrow, and it becomes more narrow as you get closer.  As a result, there is very limited parking IN Zion National Park.  In fact, during the high visitation months, you cannot drive into Zion Canyon (although you can drive into the park and out through the east side). 

There are TWO shuttle systems in this area (and I’m not talking about the St. George Shuttle).  Both are FREE.

1) The Springdale Shuttle.  Most of the parking in the area is in the town of Springdale.  There are four paid parking lots. The shuttle will pick you up and take you to the entrance of the park, where you can walk to the visitor center and access the…

2) Zion Canyon Shuttle.  This shuttle goes from the visitor center to the end of Zion Canyon.  It takes about 90 minutes to get to the end of the canyon.  It then turns around and comes back. Multiple shuttles run at once.  Typically you only need to wait 5-10 minutes for the next shuttle.

So, depending on if you rent a car or take the St. George Shuttle, here’s how it will work for you:

people getting on Zion shuttle

1. You Rent a Car

You’ll drive to Springdale and park at a parking lot.  You can then catch the Springdale shuttle to the entrance (or, if you park close enough, you can walk in).  At the visitor center, you’ll catch the Zion shuttle and you’re on your way to the most amazing scenery in the world!

If you have time after returning from Zion Canyon, or on another day, you can drive your car into the park and continue to head east through the Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel and drive on the Zion-Mt Carmel road.  There are incredible hikes in this part of the park as well. Our article Can You Drive In Zion? (What You Need To Know) will help answer any questions you may have.

2. You Take an Uber or Taxi

If you take an Uber or Taxi to the park, they will drop you off near the entrance. Just walk in and catch the Zion shuttle at the visitor center.

BOTTOM LINE: Chart of Options

I created a chart with some options for you.  Transportation goes hand-in-hand with lodging because the closer to the park you stay, the more expensive the lodging.  So it’s a bit of a trade-off.  I will cover lodging options more in-depth in another post. 

I’m not a professional chart-maker, so do your best to read it.  It contains average prices for each hotel/transportation option. And then there are columns for each trip option, and I included estimated costs for one, two, and three-day trips.


1. Cheapest Option: Fly to Las Vegas, rent a car, and stay in St. George.  

You’ll drive an hour to the park each day, but it’s easily the cheapest option. This is option # 3 in the chart below.

2. Luxury Option: Fly to Las Vegas, take the St. George Shuttle/taxi or Uber to Springdale, and stay in Springdale. 

If you want to spend a little more to be driven and to stay close to the park, then this is for you. You could do this same option and fly to St. George instead of Las Vegas, but I think the shuttle ride would take less time than a connecting flight anyway.

This is option #1 in the chart below.

Of course, you can do a combination of these as well.  I hope the chart isn’t too confusing. 

I hope you found this useful in planning your trip.  For additional useful content in planning your trip, please see our YouTube channel

In this chart, #1 through #6 are different combinations of trip options. Follow it downwards to see how I combined flights, transportation, and lodging. Obviously, there is a window of cost based on what you book. But I had to choose what I felt was an average price in order to get a comparison.

Fly to Las Vegas~$75-$300 RT~$100~$100~$100
Fly to St George~$300-$550 RT~$400~$400~$400
Shuttle from LV to St G~$90 RT~$90~$90
Uber~$200 RT~$200~$200~$200~$200
Rent car in LV~$40/day~$40
Rent car in St G~$90/day~$90
Hotel in St. George/Hurricane~$100-300~$150~$150~$150~$150
Hotel in Springdale/Zion~$160-400~$250~$250
One Day Cost~$640~$540~$290~$640~$750~$850
Two Day Cost~$890~$890~$480~$880~$1,100~$1,100
Three Day Cost~$1,140~$1,240~$670~$1,120~$1,450~$1,350

Is There Anything Else I Should Know?

Zion is crowded!

Need a game plan to avoid the crowds? Check out our itinerary

Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites and still avoid the crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times.

But that’s not all! Our itinerary includes a free audio guide to listen to while driving with over 1.5 hours of stories about the park!


ZION TRIP PLANNER: To read or watch all of our content about Zion National Park, check out our  Zion Homepage

THINGS TO DO: Don’t miss all that Zion has to offer including Emerald Pools, Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, and Kolob Canyons

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat in and near Zion National Park

GREAT CITIES TO STAY OR CHECK OUT: Learn where to stay or camp when visiting Zion and explore some amazing cities nearby including St. George, Kanab, and Cedar City

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Find out if you need a reservation and how to use the shuttle system as well as if you can drive in Zion, which entrance to use, and how to avoid crowds

WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Zion National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Zion YouTube Playlist


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