Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Kelly
Zion National Park is one of the most spectacular national parks within the United States. Over 4 million people travel to see Zion each year! Did you know that you can visit Zion National Park without a car and still see most of the park’s famous hikes and viewpoints?
By building your itinerary from our tips below, you can definitely visit Zion National Park without a car. We’ll share which airports to fly into, how to book transportation to Zion National Park, where to stay, and how to use the shuttle system within the park to access the major viewpoints.
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About Zion National Park
Zion National Park covers over 220 square miles of land in the state of Utah. The park’s tourist activities center around Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and over 2500 feet deep. The canyon was created gradually over time by the Virgin River, and the walls of the canyon are comprised primarily of Navajo Sandstone. The park contains arguably two of the most famous hikes in the United States: The Narrows and Angel’s Landing. Zion was officially established as a national park in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson.
Reasons to Visit Zion National Park Without a Car
There are a lot of reasons why you might consider visiting Zion National Park without a car:
- You might want to go green. Shared transportation options are more sustainable for the environment.
- You might not own a car, and that’s okay! Nature should be accessible to everyone.
- Some people find it stressful to drive in unfamiliar areas. If you’re on vacation, it’s nice to relax.
- Car rentals can be expensive. If you find cheaper alternatives to renting a car, you can stretch your budget.
How to Visit Zion National Park Without a Car
1. Book Your Flight to Las Vegas
The closest airport to Zion National Park is Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. The airport is located approximately 170 miles away from Zion National Park.
TIP: If you’re looking for flights to Las Vegas, I recommend checking the SkyScanner website to search for the best airfare prices for your dates of travel.
2. Book a Shuttle from Las Vegas to Zion
There are a multitude of companies that provide shuttle routes from Las Vegas to Zion. The St. George Shuttle is one such company. You can book a shuttle (3 hours and 40 minutes travel time) for approximately $103 one-way at the time of the writing. The National Park Express is another company that offers shuttles from Las Vegas to Zion. They offer a one-day tour that allows you about six hours within the park. (So it’s possible to visit Zion as a day trip from Las Vegas.)
3. Pick a Hotel Close to the Park
You’ll want to book your lodging close to the park so that you can take advantage of the shuttle system. The only hotel within the park is Zion Lodge. If you can secure reservations there, we definitely recommend it! You won’t have to worry about long shuttle lines in the morning, and there are several beautiful hikes right outside of the lodge. Plus, you will get to stay at a rustic lodge with dining on-site. It doesn’t get better than that!
The next closest hotel, which is right outside of the park entrance, is Cable Mountain Lodge. (It’s only a two minute walk to the park entrance!) The Cable Mountain Lodge is a luxurious hotel with a beautiful pool, riverside picnic area, and spa.
We stayed at the Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn and Suites. It was an 18-minute walk to the park entrance. It’s also right next to a Springdale Shuttle stop, so you can hop on the Springdale City shuttle to take you to the park entrance too. We really liked the pool at our hotel because it had a shallow area with an umbrella where our toddler could play in the water and stay out of the sun.
By choosing a hotel that is either in the park or walkable to the park entrance, you won’t need to bring a car.
4. Use the Shuttle System at Zion National Park
Finally, you’ll need to make a plan to navigate the shuttle system. The park shuttle will take you up through Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Personal vehicles aren’t allowed on this road during the busy season, so you won’t be missing out by not having a car.
We recommend that you first familiarize yourself with the shuttle map. You will want to make sure that you are aware of the timetable, because if you miss the last shuttle, you will be forced to walk to the exit of the park. (That could be up to an 8 mile long walk!) When we went to Zion, the shuttle left the last stop within the park at 8pm. What we didn’t realize, though, is that the last shuttle departing from the park entrance was actually at 4pm. That was a bit of a bummer, because we wanted to take our daughter on a quick shuttle ride in the afternoon. (Learn from our mistake!)
You’ll also want to be prepared for crowds. We visited Zion in June. Knowing it would be busy, we planned to take the very first shuttle into the park at 6am. We arrived at 5:55am to find ourself in an hour-long line, so we didn’t actually get on the shuttle until 7am. That was disappointing because we only had a few hours before it would be too hot for us to hike with our toddler. The shuttle isn’t that busy year round, but if you are planning on visiting during peak season, plan to get there early.
The shuttle has 9 stops that lead to dozens of different trailheads and lookouts. We recommend that you plan your day’s activities in advance so you know exactly which shuttle stops you’ll stop at. You don’t want to “wing it”, because if you miss a stop, you’ll have to complete the entire shuttle loop, disembark, and then wait in line again to board the next shuttle.
What You Can See at Zion National Park Without a Car
Because the park has the shuttle system in place, there’s a ton you can see at Zion National Park without a car! Here’s a quick list of some sights you can see without a car at Zion:
- Zion Canyon Visitor Center
- Zion Human History Museum
- Pa’rus Trail
- Lower Emerald Pools Trail
- Middle Emerald Pools Trail
- Upper Emerald Pools Trail
- Zion Lodge
- Sandbench Trail
- The Grotto Hike
- Kayenta Trail
- Riverside Walk
- The Narrows Hike
- Angel’s Landing Hike
- Watchman Trail
- Archaeological Trail
What You Will Miss Without a Car at Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a huge park, so outside of the main canyon, there’s a lot that you won’t be able to see. Most people visit Zion for all of the hikes and trails listed above within the main area, so you won’t be missing out on any of the major hikes. The one hike you might miss is the Canyon Overlook Trail, which requires a personal vehicle to reach the trailhead. You also wouldn’t be able to access the Kolob Canyons area.
Guided Tours of Zion National Park
One excellent way to see Zion National Park and other sights in Utah is to take a guided tour. You won’t have to worry about planning the travel details, and your guide will be knowledgeable about the local history and geology. For example, this half-day tour will take you Zion National Park and Kolob. It’s a great way to see sights that most tourists don’t see because they are off-the-beaten path.
It’s also super convenient to book a tour from Vegas to Bryce Canyon. This tour will take you to both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park over the course of 14 hours.
Finally, this tour provides a guided walking tour of Zion National Park. The tour will pick you up from your Vegas and you’ll get to see many of the most breathtaking sights at Zion.
What to Pack For Your Trip to Zion National Park
During peak season, Zion park can be incredibly warm. When we went in June, it was 100 degrees most days of our 5-day trip. Because of the heat, we woke up early most days and tried to be done with our outdoor hikes by 11am. So, we recommend that you bring your favorite sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. It’s also a good idea to carry with you an insulated water bottle, and even a backpack with a cooler component to keep some snacks cold. (Or just use the portable ice blocks to cool off mid-hike!)
For safety, always carry a first aid kit with you.
Finally, be sure to bring a portable phone charger with you. That way, your phone won’t run out battery and you’ll be able to take all the photos you want!
Finally, we recommend purchasing a guide book of Zion National Park. You’ll be able to read all about the best hike, the park’s history, and more!
Safety Considerations at Zion National Park
- Bring enough water for the day (taking into account the heat and strenuous exercise)
- Be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion
- Wear sunscreen
- Stay on the marked trails
- Closely supervise young children
- Do not feed the wildlife
- Follow Leave No Trace principles
Summary: Visiting Zion National Park Without a Car
If you don’t have a car, it’s still possible to visit Zion National Park. By flying into Las Vegas, taking a shuttle to Zion National Park, choosing a hotel close to the park, and using the park’s free shuttle system, you’ll be able to see much of what the park has to offer. We hope this post was helpful for you as you plan your trip!
Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information.