A Family Road Trip From Las Vegas to Zion National Park
A three-day weekend is a perfect start in exploring the Wild West of Zion National Park and Southern Utah. This family-friendly road trip pairs a big helping of adventure with new discoveries in Southern Utah’s frontier for a weekend you and the kids won’t soon forget.
Las Vegas to The Zion Region
Kick your road trip off with a day in the St. George area. Get on the water — or the beach — at Sand Hollow State Park and explore the stunning Snow Canyon. In the evening, enjoy playing in St. George.
St. George to Zion National Park
Spend the day cooling off in Zion National Park. On your way a few extra stops give the family a chance to chase the ghosts of dinosaurs and cowboys. In the park, you’ll do some family-friendly hiking on the Emerald Pools and Riverside Walk hiking trails.
Zion to Cedar City
The last day is all about experiencing equal parts history and exploration in the Wild West first hand. You’ll see horse-drawn wagons, pioneer cabins and even cannons. In addition, see some of the most beautiful places in the region, including Cedar Breaks National Monument and Kanarraville Canyon.
Start: Drive roughly two hours northeast on I-15 from Las Vegas to St. George.
End: Cedar Breaks National Monument, just outside Cedar City.
Hours of Driving: 7+ hours of driving, including the commute to and from Las Vegas.
Places to Stay & Local Guides: St. George and Springdale both make excellent base camps for this family road trip, each with plenty of lodging and nearby camping to offer. Plus, booking a local tour guide will help you make the most of your vacation, whether it’s your first time visiting the Zion Region or your hundredth.
Read these resources to learn how to travel thoughtfully and experience Utah most fully on your journey.
- Sand Hollow State Park
- Snow Canyon State Park
- St. George for Kids
Everyone will love kicking off their road trip by clambering all over the layers of red and white sandstone and ashen cinder cones in Snow Canyon, or playing in the sand of Sand Hollow State Park — whether on the beach, or on an ATV. Next up, it’s time for some family fun in nearby St. George. Play around St. George’s Pioneer Park, with it’s very narrow and fun mini-slot that may hook your kids for life. Or, stop by the Children’s Museum for some air conditioned exploration and discovery.
You wouldn’t expect “spectacular beaches” to be a calling card for a landlocked state, but that’s exactly what makes our newest state park a must-see. With over 6,000 acres of sand dunes open for ATV and OTV riding, you can hit the beach without checking the tide charts.
Cut by water, sculpted by wind and time, Snow Canyon’s Navajo sandstone cliffs share the same history and geology as Zion National Park, one hour to the east. It is a national park-caliber destination in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve that is popular with road cyclists, hikers, climbers and families.
Discover the best all-ages fun in St. George, the largest city in Southern Utah. Pioneer Park offers a microcosm of the southwest with a pint-sized slot canyon experience and red rock scrambles while the Children’s Museum features several hands-on exhibits on two floors of the historic Community Art building.
- Ghost Towns
- Emerald Pools Trail
- Gateway to the Narrows
Families of budding nature lovers should set out early for Zion. On the way, pioneer-era ghost towns like Grafton and Silver Reef are sure to excite, and one of North America’s most significant dinosaur track sites at Johnson Farm is a must-see. In the park, start with the Emerald Pools and the Riverside Walk hiking trails. Taller kids may be able to comfortably accompany their parents a ways up The Narrows. For more hikes that may be suitable for your family, check with a ranger at the visitor center.
Take a trip back in time by visiting two abandoned Southern Utah towns from the 19th century. Some say that Grafton is the most photographed ghost town in the West, while Silver Reef is a walk through time thanks to the remains of the once-bustling town.
Outside of Angels Landing, it doesn't get much more classic than the Emerald Pools. There are three Emerald Pools — Upper, Middle and Lower — and visitors may choose from as many trails. For families with young children, stick to the 1.2-mile round-trip loop to the Lower Pool.
Before the Narrows, there’s the gateway to the Narrows on the Riverside Walk. You’ll enjoy glimpses at the Temple of Sinawava as you stroll the wheelchair accessible, paved trail along the Virgin River. Travelers from around the world gather to splash in the waters at the mouth of Zion’s Narrows.
- Frontier Homestead
- Kanarraville Falls
- Cedar Breaks National Monument
After a stunning day of hiking through Zion National Park, it’s time to explore Utah’s western heritage. Frontier Homestead State Park honors the Mormon pioneers who trekked from the Salt Lake Valley to settle in the rugged high desert region. Expect to see horse-drawn wagons, historic buildings and Native American jewelry. Knowledgeable staff members are happy to share the details about these artifacts, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. With all this historical context, your family will connect with Utah on a journey into the non-technical Kanarraville slot canyon that much more. After grabbing dinner in Cedar City, head to Cedar Breaks National Monument for a beautiful sunset view. If you’re really adventurous, wait until the stars come out.
Thinking about adding a day or two to your road trip? Discover more family-friendly ways to experience the Zion Region with this itinerary of local favorites.
Frontier Homestead State Park Museum tells the story of development in Iron County when in the 1850s, Brigham Young sent Mormon missionaries here to mine and process iron. The museum captures frontier life through a permanent collection, special exhibits, historic cabins and pioneer equipment.
On one hand, you can expect a stunning slot canyon with one of the most photographed waterfall and ladder scenes in Southern Utah. On the other hand, you’ll get to adorn good water shoes and continuously cross the creek on the way to this fun, non-technical slot canyon.
This majestic 2,000-foot deep natural amphitheater calls to mind its big brother Bryce Canyon to the east with huge spires shaped over millions of years of wind blowing through the canyon. Because it’s an official Dark Sky Park, camping nearby is a must do, especially if you can attend a ranger-led stargazing program during the summer months at this certified Dark Sky Park.