There’s a reason Zion is one of the most visited national parks in the U.S.
With its otherworldly landscape of sunset-colored cliffs and narrow canyons, it’s not just one of the most starkly beautiful places in the world, it’s a place made for outdoor adventure. From hiking to canyoneering to stargazing, there are so many ways to explore.
But while camping used to be the only way to immerse yourself in nature at the end of the day, it’s now possible to get a good night’s sleep without being boxed into a hotel. Over the last few years, an extensive crop of glamping outfits have popped up to keep visitors close to both the outdoors and indoor plumbing, no matter the season.
From our glamping favorites to the outdoor adventures we love, here’s where to stay and play at Zion National Park.
Where to Stay in Zion National Park
Open Sky Zion offers ultra-luxe, off-the-grid glamping near Zion National Park.
(Courtesy of @stayopensky)
With more than a dozen glampgrounds in every shape and form, Zion is officially the “glamping capital of America.” At each of our favorite properties, you’ll find a different slate of amenities, from pools to firepits.
If cozying up under canvas gets your (camp)fire going, it’s Zion Wildflower you want. They have two styles of tents—the Grand Mesas, which have private baths and A/C, and the Watchman, a more rustic single-pole set-up—each with feather-top beds, boho decor, and a private deck for soaking up the landscape’s beauty. For something even more unique, check out their luxury covered wagons, which are stocked with king-sized beds or bunks, heat, and a/c, and are just steps away from a cushy bath house with all the amenities. A pool and hot tub are also on site, as well as communal fire pits and grills for s’mores roasting (guests receive a complimentary kit at check-in) and burger flipping, lawn games like cornhole and pingpong, and complimentary bikes. Family-friendly movie nights, live music, and yoga classes are on regularly. Rates start around $130/night. // 100 Kolob Terrace Rd. (Virgin), zionwildflower.com
If you haven’t checked out AutoCamp yet, now’s your chance. The trendsetting Airstream glampsite opened its newest property at Zion just this summer. Like its sites in Yosemite and the Russian River, Zion’s AutoCamp is a land of sleek, chic silver trailers, each with full, modern baths; kitchens with dishes, cookware, and a microwave; queen beds and fold-out futons; a/c and heat; and patios with private fire pits/grills, picnic tables, and chairs. If you’re traveling with a crowd, book their Basecamp Suite, which includes both an Airstream and a decked out canvas tent, and sleeps six. As at all AutoCamp locations, the glampground centers around the mid-century clubhouse where there’s a bar and cafe, and a fridge stocked with grill kits and other eats and drinks. Outside, there’s a pool and communal fire pit for cooling off and winding down after a day of desert fun. Rates start around $130/night. // 1322 UT-9 (Virgin), autocamp.com/zion
Open Sky Zion
Open Sky Zion has an off-the-grid solitude that makes luxurious comfort look easy The glampground has just over a dozen opulently stylish safari tents with broad windows and skylights that bring the beauty of the outside in. Bask in the light of the sun or moon in the copper soaking tub or while tucked between high thread count sheets. In each tent, you’ll also find a fridge and microwave, an indoor fireplace; outside, private patios are laid out with gas grills, fire pits, and lounge chairs. Some units also come with private outdoor showers. Even if you can’t get a reservation at Open Sky, it’s worth checking out their restaurant Black Sage. There, executive chef Charles Parcell offers a sophisticated reinterpretation of the classic dishes like trout with ancho tomato reduction and buttermilk grit cakes, and stacked tostadas with smoked jackfruit, using local, seasonal produce. Rates start around $390/night. // 3405 Dalton Wash Rd. (Virgin), stayopensky.com
Fun Things to Do in Zion National Park
(Courtesy of Greater Zion Convention & Tourism Office)
Zion National Park, that land of soaring sandstone cliffs and claustrophobic slot canyons, may be the best reason to come to this corner of southern Utah, but it’s not the only one. The region is chock full of adventures that you won’t find anywhere else in the U.S.
Zion National Park
It’s hard to get enough of this spectacular park, especially when exploring on foot. Although some of Zion’s hiking trails, including the intense scramble for Angels Landing (5.4 miles) and the shimmy through The Narrows (9.6 miles), require permitsthere are a huge selection of less-crowded long and short options with equally expansive views and unusual rock formations. For the latter, check out The Watchmana 2.7 mile loop among sandstone behemoths, or the strikingly green oases of the Emerald Pools Trail (1.2 to 2.5 miles round-trip).
Canyoneering with Zion Adventures
Climb higher up Zion’s rocky spine and dip deeper into its canyons with Zion Adventures. The region’s premiere guiding outfit offers several different canyoneering options for all abilities (including kids). Their canyon adventures will delight most (even if you’ve never had any climbing experience) with a day of rappelling, scrambling, and scooching through the sandstone’s labyrinthine passageways. For a more intense and exciting challenge, try the Eye of the Needle & Via Ferratawhere you’ll descend 450 feet by rope along a rushing waterfall, then climb back up along a via ferrata, a vertical route made by anchoring iron rungs and cables into the cliff face. // 36 Lion Blvd. (Springdale), zionadventures.com
Whether you’re an astronomy nerd or just star curious, Stargazing Zion is, quite literally, out of this world. Far from a dry, boring talk about the cosmos, this nighttime tour led by a pro astronomer is a lively, amusing look at the planets and stars—Zion is an International Dark Sky Park with some of the best views of the night sky in the entire world. Learn about the constellations while lounging comfortably in the desert in your own personal bean bag chair, a cup of hot chocolate and a set of binoculars in hand. Throughout the evening, you’ll also have the chance to see the wonders of the universe up close through five different high-powered telescopes. When it’s all over, they’ll send you a slate of photos of the evening’s best moments. // stargazingzion.com
Swimming, Kayaking + SUP
Zion is hot, with the desert regularly reaching temperatures over 100 degrees in the summer months. Cool off at one of two local parks prized for their cool, clear lakes. At both Sand Hollow State Park and Quail Creek State Parkyou can rent a kayak or SUP for a couple of hours or just cannonball your way out of the heat.
The skies around Zion are some of the darkest in the world.(Courtesy of Stargazing Zion)