Zion National Park undoubtedly tops many family road trip bucket lists in the USA.
Boasting dramatic canyons and sandstone cliffs, it is one of the country’s most majestic hiking destinations with unbridled beauty. Among the most visited US national parks, Zion NP does require some careful planning.
Depending on where you are setting out from, a visit to Zion National Park can present some rather challenging driving distances. It may be more approachable to visit this Utah natural gem by flying into the nearest airport, then completing your journey by road and shuttle into the park itself.
Whilst direct flights to Zion National Park are not an option, we’ll be sharing here some regional airport options that will take you close to Zion, plus the closest international airports that you could look to start your journey from (and, of course, itineraries you could attach on to a visit to Zion National Park to make it a complete Southwest road trip).
The Closest Airports to Zion National Park
|St George Regional Airport||SGU||46 miles||50 minutes|
|Cedar City Regional Airport||CDC||61 miles||1 hour 10 minutes|
|Bryce Canyon Airport||BCE||146 miles||2 hours 40 minutes|
|Harry Reid International Airport||LAS||167 miles||2 hours 50 minutes|
|Salt Lake City International Airport||SLC||308 miles||4 hours 30 minutes|
Whilst there are small regional airports close to Zion National Park, you may need several connecting flights to get to your end destination. Larger international airports may be preferable for:
- Choice of overnight accommodation and other activities you could connect to your Utah “Mighty 5” national park trip
- Availability of rental vehicles
- Cost and availability of flights
St George Regional Airport (SGU)
Undoubtedly the closest and most convenient airport to Zion National Park is St George Regional Airport.
You’ll be able to get regional connections from Salt Lake City, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Dallas Fort Worth to SGU – though note, not all services are daily.
Car rentals are possible with Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz, though there may not be the same range of stock you’d get at an international airport.
Taxis, UBER, and LYFT services are also available from SGU airport to take you to nearby accommodation in St George or onward to Springdale ready to enter Zion.
Cedar City Regional Airport (CDC)
Another very close airport option to consider for Zion National Park is Cedar City Regional Airport.
Very small, you can only get to CDC with SkyWest Airlines (Delta) from Salt Lake City, limiting options.
For those on a tight schedule, though, the short drive and flight can save you a fair few hours in the car compared with driving from Salt Lake City to Zion.
All up allow about 2 hours, plus boarding time in SLC to get to the entry of Zion National Park.
Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) (Formerly McCarran)
Located in Las Vegas, Nevada, Harry Reid International Airport is your closest large international airport making it the perfect gateway for international visitors to Zion National Park.
Flying into Las Vegas gives you a great range of options when it comes to hiring cars and additions you can make to your southwest road trip itinerary.
The journey by road will take you about 3 hours; however, there are plenty of interesting stops you can add to your Nevada/Utah itinerary en route from Las Vegas to Zion National Park.
Alternatively, if you’re pressed for time, Zion can be visited as a day trip from Las Vegas – albeit a very long day, particularly if you’re traveling with kids.
Our preference has been to pick up a vehicle in LAS and take our time exploring many of the smaller state parks and reserves along the way.
Bryce Canyon Airport (BCE)
Further afield but worthy of a mention, particularly if both Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park are on your itinerary.
You could start from this small regional airport close to Bryce Canyon and travel by road between the national parks. Note, however, that this airport is largely used for scenic charter flights rather than commercial flights.
Have it on your radar, but unlikely to be a viable option for most travellers unless part of a pre-arranged sightseeing package.
Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
Last but not least, what might seem like the most obvious starting point in Utah is actually further away than its Nevada counterpart.
SLC to Zion National Park is about 4.5 hours by road – though the great part of starting in SLC is all the fabulous scenic stops you can make along the way, as well as interesting things to see and do in Salt Lake City itself.
Be prepared to budget at least 4.5 hours of driving if arriving at Zion NP from Salt Lake City.
Nonetheless, it can still be a great route for nature and history lovers with interesting stops along the way at Parowan Gap Petroglyphs, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Kolob Canyon. You can easily fill an entire day from Salt Lake City to Zion.
SLC will also offer you a wide range of hire car options too, perfect for continuing on your Utah road trip!
More Zion NP & Utah Road Trip Advice
- A National Park Pass is required to visit Zion National Park; This costs $35 per vehicle, valid for 7 days. An annual pass for Zion National Park is $70, or use America the Beautiful or any national park annual pass you might be eligible for.
- If you wish to include a visit to Angel’s Landing, please be aware that a ballot system operates. There are both seasonal ballots and daily ballots. Do factor this in before booking your flights for Zion if it’s important to your trip.
- If you are on a pre-arranged commercial tour from LAS, for example, your park entry will be included, but you’ll still need to have a valid pass for Angels Landing if you wish to incorporate this into your Zion trip
- To reduce traffic congestion, a free shuttle system operates in Zion National Park. You can catch the shuttle from Zion Canyon Visitor Centre inside the park or nearby Springdale. Be aware there can be long waits for the shuttle on peak days/times so plan accordingly.
- Be aware if crossing from Nevada to Utah, Nevada is on PST/PDT and Utah is on MST/MDT, 1 hour ahead.
- If you’re new to desert driving, make sure you check out our desert driving tips before setting off, particularly when driving in the peak of summer.
We hope this transport guide will prepare you for the trip of a lifetime to Zion National Park.
© Family Road Trip