Utah Stops on the Way

Beyond Zion in Springdale and St. George

Zion National Park's beauty does not end at the park boundary. Here are six ways to experience the area and escape the park’s crowds.

1. Gunlock State Park

Kayaking at Gunlock State Park in Utah
Kayaking at Gunlock State ParkPhoto by Joe Newman courtesy of Washington County

Why go: Fewer motorized boats and a smaller reservoir than nearby state parks make this a great place to rent a stand-up paddleboard or kayak and cruise past the red-rock lined shores. It’s 15 minutes from St. George.

Little-known fact: You’ll take the Old Spanish Trail, now a county road, to get to the park. From the 1820s through 1849, horse drivers and rustlers from Sante Fe, New Mexico, to Los Angeles used it until gold was discovered in 1849 and a shorter route replaced it.

2. Tuacahn Amphitheatre

Concert at Tuacahan Amphitheatre near Zion National Park
Concert at Tuacahan AmphitheatrePhoto by Joe Newman courtesy of Washington County

Why go: The desert isn’t all about outdoor recreation. Combine culture with natural beauty when you sit in this outdoor, 2,000-seat amphitheater for an evening concert or theater production nestled in a red-rock canyon in Ivins, Utah.

Tip: The amphitheater is adjacent to the spectacular Snow Canyon State Park, so spend the day on a hike, bike ride or a guided horseback ride in the park. Scenes from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were filmed here, so imagine Paul Newman riding next to you on horseback.

3. Canyoneering

Zion Adventure Co. in Springdale, Utah
Zion Adventure Co.Photo by Mike Carr courtesy of Washington County

Why go: If you’ve never tried canyoneering, this is the place to get your feet wet. A combination of hiking and rappelling with ropes, there’s a guided canyoneering outing for every ability, including shorter ones for kids.

Tip: In the St. George area, head to Paragon Adventure Co. In Springdale, Zion Adventure Co. literally teaches you the ropes as you go.

4. Mountain Biking

Why go: While Moab gets all the attention for its mountain biking scene, St. George offers a ton of trails for beginners through experts. Bearclaw Poppy is a smooth, rolling trail for beginners, and Barrel Roll is a great moderate trail.

Tip: Stop in Red Rock Bicycle Co. or Rapid Cycling Bikes in St. George for directions to trails, advice or to rent a bike.

5. Cafe Soleil

Why go: Looking to picnic in the park? Located at 205 Zion Park Blvd. in Springdale, this local favorite has counter service where you can get lunch to go before you head into Zion National Park. Choose from an assortment of grilled paninis and wraps, including the Asian chicken wrap, with vegan and vegetarian options.

Tip: Check out the local art and crafts on display as you sip your espresso.

6. Cliffside Restaurant

Cliffside Restaurant in St. George, Utah
Dine at the edgePhoto by Joe Newman courtesy of Washington County

Why go: Built on a cliff overlooking St. George, you’ll enjoy fantastic views of the St. George valley while eating contemporary American cuisine.

Tip: Order the Wahoo Fish Taco Duo or the Four-Cheese and Pear Pasta.

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For more information:
Tourism Office & Visitor Center
(435) 634-5747
20 North Main Street, Suite 105, St. George, UT 84770