Zion National Park and the rugged wilderness surrounding Springdale, Utah, is a giant red rock playground filled with magnificent scenery and grand outdoor adventures. It’s a place to play hard all day: hiking sandy trails, squeezing through slot canyons, rappelling off sandstone cliffs, and making your friends at home jealous of your Instagram feed. At the end of an exhausting day in the great outdoors, there’s nothing better than heading back to Springdale on the edge of Zion and pampering yourself with a fine meal, spa retreat, and quiet sleep.
Springdale, a modest town with just over 500 residents, takes itself seriously as the gateway to Zion and the base camp for its 4.5 million annual visitors. It prides itself on a diversity of impressive restaurants, a variety of accommodations from campsites to luxury resorts, art galleries, eclectic shops, and an imposing skyline of rocky peaks. After a day outdoors, here are the best ways to relax.
Craft Beer at Zion’s Happy Hour
After a day exploring Zion, head back to Springdale for an evening of civilized fun served up with Old West hospitality. The first order of business is getting off your feet. After exiting the park entrance, stop at Zion Canyon Brew Pub and sample a pint of handcrafted beer like Zion Pale Ale or Springdale Amber. Recount the day’s adventures at the riverside patio for spectacular views of The Watchman, a pointed peak towering over Springdale, as the sun sinks behind Mount Kinesava.
Springdale’s Delicious and Delectable Dining
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Springdale offers a surprising number of top-notch restaurants for a place that seems to be in the middle of nowhere. You’ll find a tasty diversity of cuisines that satisfies every appetite. Restaurants line Zion Park Boulevard, the town’s main drag, making it tough to decide where to dine.
A few local favorites include:
- The Switchback Grille’s menu offers generous portions of both seafood and prime steaks including an 18-ounce ribeye and filet mignon.
- The casual Bit & Spur serves up Mexican food like sweet potato tamales along with roadhouse fare in a dining room and full bar.
- The Spotted Dog Café is great for celebrating your Angels Landing hike with memorable dishes like seared ahi, asparagus shrimp pasta, and smoked red trout.
- For vegan and vegetarian meals like a delicious Asian tofu wrap, hit up Café Soleil near Zion’s entrance.
Massage Those Tired Muscles
Your Zion days are filled with activity and movement—hiking steep trails, tubing down the Virgin River, and trekking out to overlooks. At the end of a perfect day, you need some relaxation and what’s better than indulging your senses and muscles at a Springdale spa? Rejuvenate your aching legs with a therapeutic massage by a professional masseuse at Deep Canyon Spa or Zion Canyon Massage. Deep Canyon Spa at Flanagan’s Inn also offers a full-service spa, salon, yoga, Pilates, and meditation studio, while Zion Canyon Spa does convenient in-room massages at your hotel.
Shops, Art, and Concerts
If your feet aren’t sore from a day of Zion adventuring, it’s fun to stroll along Springdale’s main street after dinner and discover unique shops, boutiques, and galleries. Your first stop is the Springdale Visitor Center, which sells uncommon Zion gifts, books, hiking gear, and clothing, as well as provides insider info for your park visit. Several superb art galleries, including DeZion Gallery, LaFave Gallery, Sorella Gallery, David J. West Gallery, and Worthington Gallery, offer Southwestern art and work by local artists. For gems, minerals, and fossils, stop by The Zion Prospector and Zion Rock and Gem.
After your walk, check the schedule for the modernistic O.C. Tanner Amphitheater and take in a concert surrounded by Zion’s breathtaking scenery. Regular events occur all summer, culminating in the Zion Canyon Music Festival in late September.
Spend the Night in Springdale
After exploring Springdale all evening, settle in for a restful night at a campground, motel, or resort. The town offers a wide range of comfortable options from rustic to luxurious that fit every budget, all conveniently located near restaurants, shops, and the national park. The great thing about Springdale is that most of the lodging is within walking distance of the park so you can easily hike to Zion’s visitor center and catch the shuttle, leaving your car in town.
Here are our choices for some of Springdale’s prime accommodations:
- The Cliffrose Lodge & Garden, bordering Zion and the Virgin River, spread rooms, suites, and villas across five acres. Plentiful amenities include a sunny pool, riverside hot tubs, beachfront, and a quick stroll to the park shuttle.
- Flanagan’s Inn, next door to The Spotted Dog Café, feels like a mini-resort with its spa, pool, hilltop labyrinth, and glorious Zion views. The park is a mere five-minute walk away.
- The Desert Pearl Inn is a cool retreat along the Virgin River with refinished fir and redwood beams, calm earth colors, private balconies, a pool, and spacious rooms.
- Plenty of other great places to stay in Springdale include the Bumbleberry Inn, Driftwood Lodge, Springhill Suites, Majestic View Lodge, Cable Mountain Lodge, Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, and Holiday Inn Express.
- If you’re roughing it, pitch a tent or drive the RV to the Zion Crest Campground, located just above the national park. Tent campers will enjoy their space under the pines on the East Zion Plateau, with spacious sites and a new shower house.
- For a “glamping” experience, the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort offers luxurious tents and cabins to rent—and they include an excellent country breakfast at the restaurant on site.
No matter where you stay around Springdale, you’ll enjoy the amenities that make for a comfortable trip as you explore one of the country’s most scenic outdoor destinations. Combining a rugged outdoor experience with relaxing evenings in town will make for a getaway you’ll never forget.
Written by Stewart Green for RootsRated Media in partnership with ZionNationalPark.com.
Featured image provided by Jared