As you’ve made your basecamp in Greater Zion, a quick day trip can lead to all kinds of additional discoveries and experiences. Here are a few options to consider.
Bryce National Park
One of the most beautiful day trips outside of Greater Zion is Bryce Canyon National Park. Located about 2.5 hours from St George, Bryce is nothing short of breathtaking. It is one of the most unique places on the planet, as it houses the largest concentration of hoodoos (irregular columns of rock) found anywhere on Earth. Situated about the Grand Staircase, it covers 36,000 acres. Easy
pull-offs along the main park road, provide canyon views, access to hikes, and miles of awe-inspiring sandstone hoodoo spires.
Grand Canyon North Rim
Located about a three-hour drive from St. George, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon will allow you to stare down the heart of the canyon, spanning over 277 miles with wonder, awe and amazement. The Grand Canyon is also the home to many Native Americas who for thousands of years, built settlements throughout the canyons and inside many of its caves. While visiting, be sure to stop at the Jacob Lake Inn for a cookie and shake!
Valley of Fire State Park
Known for its bright red Aztec sandstone crops and twisted, taffy-like domes, Valley of Fire State Park is a hidden gem among the desolate Nevada desert. Drive through and hit the main lookouts or spend the day hiking trails like Fire Wave with white and red sandstone, Elephant Rock, Seven Sisters, and Mouse’s Tank or Atlatl Rock, where you can see petroglyphs. Don’t skip Rainbow Vista. This state park is approximately 90 minutes from St. George.
Whether you’re a high roller, show-goer or a sightseer, Las Vegas is the perfect one-day getaway. By day or night, try your luck at a casino, see a dazzling performance or take a gondola ride through the Venetian Hotel, see the Bellagio Fountain Show, dine at the Tournament of Kings (a live-action medieval dinner show) and tour the famous Fremont Street. If you want more natural experiences, explore Red Rock Canyon. Or travel a little farther and see the modern marvel of human engineering, Hoover Dam, or play in Lake Mead.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Located East of Zion National Park, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes offer roller-coaster style cruises over shifting dunes via OHV and coastal-like surfboarding down the slopes of pink hills. Pack a lunch and rent an OHV or sandboard for the perfect day of sailing the sands. Downtown Kanab offers a handful of restaurants for a meal on your way there or back. Kanab is also home to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the nation’s largest sanctuary for homeless animals, that offers free tours.
Pine Valley Recreation Area
Pine Valley Recreation Area offers a great escape from the heat of the Southern Utah desert, located just 40 minutes north of St. George. Enjoy fishing from the serene Pine Valley Reservoir and explore the forest via trails like the Santa Clara River Trail, where the smells of pine are inescapable. Plan a stop for dinner at dessert at the Brandin’ Iron Steakhouse.
Bryce Canyon’s lesser-known and less-crowded little sister, Cedar Breaks National Monument, features unusual limestone formations and beautiful hiking trails surrounded by a natural amphitheater. Spend the day hiking and picnicking amid quiet meadows and view the local wildlife from incredible canyon overlooks. Then, stay after dark for close encounters of the Milky Way and the starry night sky.
Embark one hour north on I-15 and air a visit to I/G Winery in downtown Cedar City with a theatrical experience like no other at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. The festival is a Tony Award-winning, professional theater on the campus of Southern Utah University, presenting plays by The Bard and other playwrights every June through October in three theaters. Magic, backstage, orientation and costume and props seminars also offer you some theater insights. Don’t forget the wine – IG offers locally made, blended and vented wines in a fantastic tasting room. Grab a flight and try many of their offerings.