Top Greater Zion Experiences
With 2,400 square miles of adventure, there is no shortage of things to see, do and discover in Greater Zion. In a landscape brimming with adrenaline-pumping outdoor pursuits, awe-inspiring vistas and endless opportunities to connect with nature, it can be hard to decide what to do first. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a longtime local, we’re here to help you make the most of your time in Greater Zion! This list will help you start to explore the heart of Greater Zion with a few of our favorite don’t-miss experiences. We encourage you to use this list as a jumping-off point to get out and create your own personal list of don’t-miss experiences in the area.
1. Swing a Club
Greater Zion is a year-round golfer’s paradise with 13 world-class courses including six of Golfweek’s “Top Ten You Can Play” in Utah. From the top-rated Sand Hollow Championship Course to the new Copper Rock, you’re never more than 20 miles from the next great spot to birdie or eagle.
2. Swig a Sweet Treat
St. George is the birthplace of Swig, the home of the dirty soda. With more than 30 locations throughout the state, this homegrown Utah original lets you customize and amp up your carbonated beverage with mix-ins like fruit, flavored syrups or even gummy bears.
3. Cool your Heels
Three of the four state parks in Greater Zion offer reservoirs, perfect to swim, paddle or boat. Sand Hollow State Park, home of the swim course for IRONMAN races, includes a sand beach, restaurant and boat rentals. Quail Creek State Park typically offers Utah’s warmest water, a beach and boating facilities in addition to being the area’s premier rainbow trout fishing spot. Gunlock State Park is a gorgeous lake surrounded by sandstone cliffs and volcanic cinder cones with a sandy beach and boating facilities.
4. Chase Waterfalls
Greater Zion’s hidden waterfalls and swimming holes offer unique opportunities to cool off. Toquerville Falls is an oasis accessed by hike or OHV and the Red Cliffs Recreation Area offers an easy hike to a small waterfall that tumbles into a natural swimming pool. In years with high snowpack, the late spring brings a seasonal waterfall to Gunlock State Park where swimmers take advantage of the waterfall and deep pools below the dam spillway.
In Greater Zion, some of the best after dark entertainment can be found in the heavens thanks to a lack of light pollution. Zion National Park is a certified International Dark Sky Park, offering the perfect opportunity to scan the skies for the Milky Way, distant galaxies and the occasional meteor shower. Local outfitters even offer guided tours of the night sky that include telescopes, zero-gravity loungers and deep-sky imagery lead by certified Dark Sky astronomers.
6. Scenic Drive
Take a nationally recognized scenic route through Greater Zion. State Route 9, stretching between La Verkin and Zion National Park was named a National Scenic Byway in 2021 for the dramatic red rock scenery you’ll enjoy as you drive along the Virgin River. For an off-highway scenic adventure, check out the Smithsonian Butte National Back Country Byway. Accessible only by high-clearance, four-wheel vehicles, the roughly nine-mile route traverses stunning desert landscape between Apple Valley and Rockville.
7. Pedal Power
With more than 300 miles of mountain biking, spread between three distinct landscapes, Greater Zion is more about finding the best ride for you versus a singular must-ride trail. Home to the Red Bull Rampage, the nation’s premier freeride mountain biking competition, Greater Zion’s westside near Hurricane is known for jaw dropping rides like Gooseberry Mesa and the J.E.M. Trail. The west side of Greater Zion, near St. George, offers miles of variety including the opportunity to bike to petroglyphs on the Anasazi Trail or visit Snake Hollow, the state’s only year-round bike park. Knowledgeable area outfitters can assist with traditional and e-bike rentals for the whole family as well as guided excursions.
8. Hit the Dunes
Explore 15,000 acres of perfectly sculpted sand at Sand Hollow State Park’s Sand Mountain area. A favorite destination for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts, Sand Mountain is perfect for an ATV, UTV, Jeep or dirt-bike adventure. Be sure to explore the well-known rock formations in the area including the Flintstone House, Top of the World, Freedom Rock and Competition Hill. Area outfitters offer a variety of rentals and guided tours, many including special sunset vistas of the area.
9. Theater on the Rocks
Tuacahn Center for the Arts brings Broadway to the desert, nestled amidst stunning red rocks, offering attendees stunning panoramic views in addition to the entertainment on the stage. Tuacahn hosts a variety of shows throughout the year from concerts and comedy acts to musicals and holiday spectaculars. The always-free Saturday market is another way to experience the magic of Tuacahn, with local artwork, crafts, food and entertainment spread along a tree-lined walkway with a running water feature.
10. Catch the Sunrise
Snow Canyon State Park’s towering red rock cliffs and petrified sand dunes are a unique location to watch the sun rise above Greater Zion. Increase the adventure with a guided horseback ride through the park or the enjoy biking the 18-mile paved loop through the park. Snow Canyon is home to a segment of the bike course for Greater Zion’s IRONMAN events.
11. Paddle Pine Valley
At 7,000 feet above sea level, Pine Valley Reservoir is a great place to beat the heat. Without motorized boats, the reservoir offers calm waters perfect to enjoy a stand-up-paddle board adventure. Be sure to stop in the historic town of Pine Valley for a quick stroll and to visit the Forest Service’s Pine Valley Heritage Center.
12. Gimmie Some Sugar
Utahans love sweets and Greater Zion offers no shortage of amazing treats to satisfy your sweet tooth, including some standout local baked goods. Dutchman’s Market in Ivins is a small bakery and convenience store that claims to be the original home of the pink sugar cookie, a frosted favorite that is now enjoyed throughout the state. River Rock Roasting Company in La Verkin offers homemade cinnamon rolls served alongside fresh roasted coffee and amazing canyon views. Muddy Bees Bakery in Hurricane whips up treats sweetened with honey harvested from the bakery’s very own in-house hive of honey bees. In Springdale, The Bumbleberry Gift Shop & Bakery has served Bumbleberry Pie and homemade fudge to travelers for more than 50 years. Other great options in the area include Farmstead, Veyo Pies and The Sweet Tooth Fairy.
13. Yucca it Up
Greater Zion is home to the northern most stand of Joshua Trees in the United States. Covering 1,052 acres, Joshua Tree National Landmark is located 40 minutes from St. George. The off-the-beaten path attraction is accessed by maintained dirt roads, offering an opportunity to see the tree-like yucca without the crowds.
14. Ancient Art
Petroglyph art throughout Greater Zion speaks to the ancient native cultures that once populated the area. Petroglyphs are visible in multiple areas in Greater Zion, but are easiest to reach at Bloomington Petroglyph Park in St. George. The park affords visitors the opportunity to walk right up to a rock with hundreds of well-preserved petroglyphs. If you’re looking to explore further, petroglyphs can be accessed via an easy hike at Little Black Mountain or the slightly longer Anasazi Valley Trail.
15. Ghosts of the Past
First settled in 1859, Grafton is one of the best preserved and most photographed ghost towns in the West. The town’s historic preserved homes, green pastures and orchards along the Virgin River have served as the setting for at least three Hollywood movies including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Harrisburg, a less-well-known ghost-town near Quail Creek State Park, was also founded in 1859. Several stone houses still stand in Harrisburg, which was abandoned in 1895 following a locust plague.
16. Dinosaur Tracks
See fossilized footprints and learn about the dinosaurs that once roamed Greater Zion at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm. The family friendly museum offers everything from dinosaur replicas and bones to fossils and discovery sites. Greater Zion also offers opportunities to see dinosaur footprints and fossils in the wild, including the Warner Valley Dinosaur Track Site and Red Cliffs Dinosaur Track Site.
17. Find your Trail
With hundreds of miles of hiking trails, Greater Zion is the perfect place to find and complete your dream trek. Spread across three distinct landscapes, the trails in the area offer a wide variety of vistas and challenges ranging from a stroll to multi-day excursion. Some of the better-known hikes in the area include:
a. Yant Flat
Located in the Dixie National Forest, Yant Flat is also known as Candy Cliffs for the vibrant rocks that imitate candy-like swirls.
b. Eagle Crags
Getting to the Eagle Crags trailhead requires a high-clearance vehicle. Once there, the 2.8-mile trail offers a payout in the form of unobstructed views of the main canyon of Zion National Park.
c. Elephant Arch Trail
Located in Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, Elephant Arch is a 3.8-mile trip along a sandy trail to an arch that looks like an elephant.
d. Water Canyon
Maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, Water Canyon is considered one of Greater Zion’s gems. Located near the town of Hildale, the 3.3-mile trail travels through a canyon with running water and slot-like passages past dramatic red-rock cliffs to a scenic waterfall.
18. Slot Canyons
With narrow channels and sheer rock walls, slot canyons are sought-after Utah destinations. Greater Zion offers no shortage of dramatic and picture-perfect slot canyons, but Jenny’s Canyon in Snow Canyon State Park is the easiest to reach. Requiring a roundtrip half-mile walk, Jenny’s Canyon is perfect for visitors of nearly all ages and abilities. St. George Narrows at Pioneer Park above St. George offers another easy option. Yankee Doodle Hollow offers in introductory level canyoneering experience in a slot canyon that does not require a permit. The Narrows and Subway in Zion National Park are well-known options and may require permits, depending on the route.
19. Artists in Action
Discover the art galleries and studios in the Kayenta Art Village in Ivins. Inspired by the desert landscape, multiple artists from different disciplines create and sell art throughout the picturesque village. Afterwards, stop at Xetava Gardens Café, located onsite, for top-rated cuisine, espresso drink or a glass of wine or beer.
20. Take Your Turn in Zion
The second-most-visited national park in the country, Zion National Park offers more than 35 hiking trails and red-rock cliffs towering more than 2,000 feet above the canyon floor. The scenery in the park will inspire you and leave you in awe. Be sure to play a role in keeping the park “Forever Mighty” by planning ahead to take a park shuttle to access popular trails and overlooks and for any required permits for your desired hike.
21. Visit Volcano Country
The town of Veyo, located just north of St. George was shaped by the now extinct Veyo Volcano. Known as Greater Zion’s “Volcano Country” you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to stop at famed Veyo Pies which offers a Veyo Volcano Pie that explodes with flavor. Afterwards, cool off and work off the calories at Veyo Pool & Crawdad Canyon.
22. Discover Art Downtown
Don’t miss the art sprinkled throughout downtown St. George. New pieces to explore in the area include the IRONMAN M-Dot statute, located at the roundabout at Tabernacle and Main Streets and the new IRONMAN mural by local artist and professional cyclist T.J. Eisenhart, located on the south side of the Hometown Lenders at 61 North Main Street. Both pieces were created to honor the iconic legacy of IRONMAN in Greater Zion. Downtown St. George is also home to Art Around the Corner, a world-class outdoor art exhibition that is currently showcasing more than 30 original sculptures and 3D works of art. All the exhibitions are free and open to the public.
23. Take the Iron Road
Discover Greater Zion’s via ferratas, which means “iron road” in Italian. Combining the thrill of scaling a steep canyon wall with the protection of iron-rung ladders and safety cables, via ferrata offer adventure even for those with little to no climbing or canyoneering experience. Locally, Eye of the Needle and Above Zion offer a way to experience the via ferrata thrill.
24. Canyoneering Adventure
Rappel from the high rock walls of Greater Zion’s canyons into narrow slot canyons, pools of water and soft sand floors on a jaw-dropping canyoneering adventure. If you’re a first timer, this is a great place to hire a guide and learn the ropes. If you already have the gear and experience, head out to enjoy some of the amazing canyons on your own, including the 19 permitted routes in Zion National Park, two permitted routes in Snow Canyon State Park or the non-permitted routes in Lambs Knoll and Yankee Doodle.
25. Iconic Sporting Events
Experience the beauty of Greater Zion in a new way as a spectator or participant in one of the areas iconic sporting events. The spectacular scenery of the area has served as the backdrop for more IRONMAN championships than any other host city in the world. In 2022, the destination will host the IRONMAN World Championship and the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. Greater Zion is also the home of the Red Bull Rampage and Red Bull Formation, Hunstman World Senior Game and the St. George Marathon.
26. Destination Ahhh
If a little pampering is necessary on your trip, Greater Zion offers several standout spas for massages, wraps and more. To enjoy the newest luxury spa offering in the area, visit The Spa at Cable Mountain Lodge, located just steps from Zion National Park. Another option is Sagestone Spa at Red Mountain Resort which is consistently noted as one of the top destination spas in the United States.
27. Dine Out
Don’t miss the chance to take in the tastes of Great Zion. No matter what you’re in the mood for, from pioneer style meals to fresh modern delights, we have a restaurant to suit your style. Some uniquely Greater Zion dining options in the area include wood.ash.rye, River Rock Roasting Company and Oscar’s Café.
28. Utah’s Wine Trail
Known for producing more than three-million pounds of wine grapes in the late 1800s, this legacy has recently been reborn with the opening of modern-day vineyards in Greater Zion. Stop along Utah’s Wine Trail to sample the fruit yourself from Bold & Delany Winery in Dammeron Valley, Zion Vineyards in Leeds or Water Canyon Winery, opening in Hildale in 2022