Springdale, Utah, first settled by pioneers in 1862, prides itself as being a gateway to the natural wonders of Zion National Park, the third most visited national park in the United States. The friendly town with a year-round population of 550 welcomes most of Zion’s 4.5 million annual visitors.
Besides exploring the park’s gorgeous canyons and sandstone mountains, visitors also play on the scenic public lands surrounding Springdale, finding world-class mountain bike trails, backcountry hikes, canyoneering adventures, jeep tours, and airy climbing routes. At the end of the day as the red cliffs above town glow in fading sunlight, Springdale welcomes its temporary locals back with a smile to a wide variety of tasty restaurants and lodging from rustic to luxurious. Here’s how to get the most out of your visit.
Best Bets for Springdale Dining
After a busy day in the Zion sun, Springdale offers more than 30 restaurants featuring a wide variety of cuisines. A favorite first stop is Zion Canyon Brew Pub by the park boundary. Order a chilled pint of locally brewed beer and relax on the riverside patio in the growing twilight. Later, head down Zion Park Boulevard and make the hard choice—where should we dine tonight? There are so many tasty options, including Mexican, Thai, steak, seafood, and innovative café fare. Some Springdale favorites sure to satisfy include, Barefoot Taqueria, Spotted Dog Café, Bit & Spur Restaurant, Cordwood Restaurant, Switchback Grille, and Oscar’s Café.
Springdale’s Best Lodging Options
As the gateway to Zion, Springdale serves as a base camp with ample accommodations from bed-and-breakfast inns and popular chain hotels to luxury retreats and pampered resorts. Springdale is the perfect place to recharge when visiting Zion since it’s easy to leave your vehicle at your hotel and walk to the park’s visitor center or take the free town shuttle.
While you’ll find plenty of charming choices for overnight stays in Springdale, some local favorites include the Cliffrose, Flanagan’s Inn, Cable Mountain Lodge, Driftwood Lodge, Majestic View Lodge, and Desert Pearl Inn.
A Few Tips for Visiting Zion Canyon
It’s easy to visit Zion National Park and its iconic sandstone wonders from Springdale. Start the day with a quick stop at the Springdale Visitor Center for maps, info, and insider tips. Leave your car parked at your hotel and hop aboard the free Springdale Shuttle for a ride to the park’s visitor center and the Zion Human History Museum.
Then, catch the Zion Shuttle for a scenic ride up Zion Canyon. The eight shuttle stops in the canyon offer gorgeous scenery and trailheads for epic hikes like Angels Landing and The Narrows.
A healthy alternative is riding a bike in the canyon. Bring your own two-wheeler or rent one in Springdale and take the shuttle to the last stop at Temple of Sinawava. Ride downhill on the 7.5-mile closed road to Pa’rus Trail and the visitor center for open-air views of Zion’s dramatic scenery.
Zion is Made for Hiking
All things considered, the best way to experience Zion National Park is on foot, via the 18 trails through Zion Canyon and along the surrounding summits and rims. Pick up a park map and trail guide at the visitor center to find a route suitable for your physical condition and ability level, and then take the shuttle to the trailhead.
There are plenty of easy hikes, ranging from 0.4 to 3.5 miles round trip, perfect for exploring Zion’s grandeur. If you’ve never visited the park, follow Riverside Walk, Lower Emerald Pool, and Weeping Rock Trails for stunning views. Experienced hikers should check out the famed Angels Landing Trail, climb to Observation Point, or wade up The Narrows to Mystery Falls.
Don’t forget to wear proper footwear and a hat, use sunscreen, and carry water, especially during the hot summer months.
The World’s Best Canyoneering Adventures
The Zion region is considered one of the best areas for canyoneering in the world, with a maze of deep canyons, gorges, and crevices dissecting the sandstone landscape. Zion boasts a variety of adventure canyons from easy treks between towering cliffs to experts-only expeditions through twisting cracks filled with water.
While safe canyoneering requires a park permit and lots of outdoor skills like rappelling and rock climbing, you can always hire an experienced guide from Zion Adventure Company, Zion Ponderosa, Epic Adventures, or Zion Guru in Springdale.
Utah’s Best Mountain Biking
Besides being on the edge of Zion National Park, Springdale is also the jumping-off point for wild adventures in the surrounding desert. The brushy terrain west of Springdale attracts mountain bikers to some of Utah’s best rides on Guacamole Mesa and Gooseberry Mesa. Expect fun singletrack terrain with fast downhills, technical canyons, rolling slickrock, and views that go on forever.
If you didn’t bring your mountain bike, rent one in Springdale from Bike Zion or Zion Adventure Company. They also offer trail info, bike rentals, and guided tours.
Zion Jeep Tours, ATV Trails, and Rock Climbing
Plenty of other outdoor adventures await around Springdale. Take a 4×4 driving tour with Zion Outback Safaris and discover marvelous overlooks, Instagram-worthy photo ops, and desert wildlife. Superb off-road terrain with narrow trails and sand dunes for ATVs lies west of Springdale. Bring your own buggy or book a tour with UTV Adventures, East Zion Adventures, Mild to Wild Rhino Tours, and ATV & Jeep Adventure Tours. Zion National Park is one of America’s best sandstone climbing areas, with big wall routes like Spaceshot, Monkey Finger, and Moonlight Buttress. If you aren’t a climber, take a lesson or a guided climb outside the park with Zion Rock & Mountain Guides, Zion Adventure Company, Red Desert Adventures, and Zion Guru.
At the end of the day, Springdale welcomes you back with its friendly western hospitality. Take a stroll around town after dinner and visit art galleries, rock shops, and eclectic stores, or head up to the O.C. Tanner Amphitheater for a concert beneath starry skies. Springdale, one of Utah’s best small towns, is a place to rejuvenate after exploring Zion’s magnificent landscape and to make plans for tomorrow’s new adventures.
Written by Stewart Green for RootsRated Media in partnership with ZionNationalPark.com.
Featured image provided by IIP Photo Archive