Zion’s Neighbors: Must-See Destinations

Zion National Park is a breathtaking wonderland, boasting towering red cliffs, lush forests, and winding canyons that attract millions of visitors each year. But beyond the iconic landscapes of Zion lie several hidden gems and neighboring destinations waiting to be explored. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey to discover the must-see destinations near Zion National Park, offering a diverse array of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Bryce Canyon National Park: Hoodoos and Beyond

Just a scenic two-hour drive from Zion lies Bryce Canyon National Park, famous for its surreal landscape of hoodoos – tall, thin spires of rock that protrude from the ground. As you venture into Bryce Canyon, you’ll be mesmerized by the intricate formations carved by erosion over millions of years.

Don’t miss the sunrise or sunset at Bryce Point or Sunset Point, where the hoodoos are bathed in a warm, golden light, creating a magical spectacle. For those seeking adventure, explore the park’s extensive network of hiking trails, including the popular Navajo Loop Trail and Queens Garden Trail, offering stunning views of the amphitheaters and hoodoos.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: Wilderness Untamed

Encompassing nearly 1.9 million acres of rugged terrain, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a vast wilderness ripe for exploration. From sweeping plateaus and towering cliffs to slot canyons and hidden waterfalls, this remote landscape offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Hike through the iconic slot canyons of Buckskin Gulch or explore the otherworldly formations of the Devil’s Garden. For a truly unique experience, embark on a scenic drive along the Burr Trail, winding through stunning canyons and towering cliffs, offering panoramic views of the surrounding wilderness.

Zion’s East Side: Kolob Canyons and Beyond

While most visitors to Zion National Park explore the main canyon area, the park’s lesser-known east side offers a quieter, more secluded experience. Head to Kolob Canyons, located just off Interstate 15, where you’ll find towering red cliffs, scenic overlooks, and a network of hiking trails.

The Kolob Arch Trail, in particular, offers a challenging but rewarding hike to one of the world’s largest natural arches, spanning over 287 feet. Afterward, take a scenic drive along the Kolob Terrace Road, winding through pine forests and meadows, with stunning views of the surrounding canyons and rock formations.

Cedar Breaks National Monument: A Spectacle of Color

Perched at over 10,000 feet above sea level, Cedar Breaks National Monument is a hidden gem nestled in the high mountains of southern Utah. Known as the “miniature Bryce Canyon,” Cedar Breaks boasts a similar landscape of colorful hoodoos, amphitheaters, and towering cliffs, carved by erosion over millions of years.

Visit during the summer months to witness the explosion of wildflowers that blanket the meadows in vibrant hues of red, purple, and yellow. Don’t miss the overlooks at Sunset View and Point Supreme, offering panoramic views of the amphitheater and surrounding valleys.

Kanab: Gateway to Adventure

Located just south of Zion National Park, the charming town of Kanab serves as the perfect base camp for exploring the surrounding wilderness. Known as “Little Hollywood” for its history as a filming location for numerous Western movies and television shows, Kanab offers a unique blend of outdoor adventure and Old West charm.

Explore the nearby Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, where you can hike, sandboard, or simply marvel at the stunning contrast of red sand dunes against the blue sky. Or embark on a guided tour to the nearby slot canyons of Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch, where you’ll navigate narrow passageways and sculpted rock formations.

In Summary

Although Zion National Park stands as a pinnacle of the American Southwest, the region surrounding it presents an abundance of varied landscapes and adventures yet to be explored. Whether you’re enticed by the surreal hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, the untamed wilderness of Grand Staircase-Escalante, or the vibrant amphitheaters of Cedar Breaks, there’s a captivating experience awaiting near Zion’s periphery. So, gather your belongings, arrange for a shuttle from St. George, and embark on a journey to uncover the natural marvels that await beyond Zion’s borders.