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Zion National Park is one of the highlights of any visit to Utah. It's located in the southwestern corner of the state, not far from the states of Arizona and Nevada. Bryce Canyon National Park is just about 130 kilometres to the east. Together with many other national parks in Utah and northern Arizona, it forms part of a great road trip across the sparsely populated southwest of the United States. Although many say it's less spectacular compared to Bryce Canyon, it's a park with fantastic natural features, including the 24-kilometre-long Zion Canyon, dropping up to half a mile down from its rim. The red and white cliffs tower high above the Virgin River. Other features include rocks, grottoes, hanging gardens, waterfalls, lush riverbanks and meadows. Combined with lower elevation, which means warmer days (and nights), it's totally different from many other parks in the drier east.
The park is open year round, but most people come during the warmer period of May to September. The main visitor center is open from 8am to 7pm from May to September, to 6pm in April and October and to 5pm from November to March. The Kolob Canyon Visitor Center is open from 8am to 4:30pm year round.
The main entrance is on the southern edge of the park along US highway 9. There you'll also find the Zion Canyon visitor center. There is also an entrance station east of the park, along US 9 towards Bryce Canyon. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive branches off from US highway 9 in between both entrance stations. From April to October you are not allowed to drive this scenic canyon drive yourself and you need to take the free shuttle bus which has stops along many points of interest all the way to the end of the road.
The Kolob Canyon section is in the northwest of the park and has an exit at Interstate-15. It's about an hour from the main section in the southwest of the park and there are no shortcuts within the park to travel between the two.
The nearest airport is in St George with flights to Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Most people have rental cars from cities further away though, although Las Vegas is just about 2 hours away as well.
Options within the park include the Lava Point Campground, the South Campground and the Watchman Campground. For something more luxurious try the Zion Lodge.
There is much more choice in Springdale, south of the main visitor center and entrance station. In summer there are free shuttles all the way from Springdale to meet with the canyon shuttle, so that you don't need to park at the start of the scenic canyon drive.
If you'll find yourself stuck without accommodation, try further down US highway 9 in towns like Rockville or Virgin. Kanab is about 50 miles away, while the nearest city, St. George, is about 40 minutes from both the Zion Canyon as well as the Kolob Canyon.
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