During our road trip from California to Connecticut, we were excited to squeeze in visits to a few National Parks. We were most giddy about two days at Zion National Park, located in Springdale, Utah.
The park is beautiful beyond words, and it was so much more than either one of us expected. But beyond the gorgeous canyons, steep red cliffs and forest trails, we were pleasantly surprised by the charming town the park resides in. Unlike other parks like the Grand Canyon or even Mt. Rainier in Washington state, there is a bustling little town just steps outside of Zion.
If you find yourself visiting Zion someday, here’s some notes from our trip:
Where We Stayed:
Quality Inn & Suites Montclair | During our stint we stayed at this budget-friendly hotel (averages $180/night), located just one mile from the park entrance. The hotel rooms are nice and spacious, with free hot breakfast, WiFi and laundry facilities. The property suited our needs without breaking the bank.
Naughty Dog Dog Boarding | Since our four-year-old corgi was along for our road trip, we had to find special accommodations for her during our time in Zion. After some research, I found a dog boarder in nearby Hurricane, Utah. She runs her business out of her home, but took great care of our dog! No website, you need to call her.
Where We Ate:
Oscar’s Cafe | We loved Oscar’s! This colorful and lively restaurant has a timeless menu that should satisfy anyone. Burgers, sandwiches, tacos, salads, you name it. We shared a plate of nachos (huge!), beers from Wasatch Brewing, a portobello mushroom salad (for me) and a “murder burger” (for him).
Zion Pizza & Noodle Co | In true Utah form, this adorable pizzeria is housed inside a former Mormon church. The restaurant has an old school pizzeria feel, with slate-stone cooked pizzas, fresh salads and a lively beer garden (with outdoor fans, god bless). We ordered a hefty greek cesar salad and split a “european trail” vegetarian pizza.
Where We Drank:
Zion Canyon Brewing Company | We were thirsty after six hours of hiking and naturally stumbled into this place. For a Saturday afternoon in June the brewery was busy but not packed. Service was slow, but the beers were tasty. Utah law requires anyone in a restaurant who purchases alcohol to purchase food. A few other tourists next to us were surprised, too.
Deep Creek Coffee Company | If you didn’t already know, I married a coffee snob. And after being on the road for over a week (and having our fair share of bad motel coffee), this place was like a sanctuary for him. The shop offers local, high quality organic coffee and a nice spread of breakfast items.
Where We Shopped:
Sol Foods Supermarket | As Springdale’s only grocery store, this place was perfect for hiking provisions. If you get it together beforehand (aka not us), you can place orders for lunch boxes.
Zion Rock & Gem | This is one of those roadside attractions that makes you pull over. The open air storefront sells bins and bins full of colorful minerals, rocks, and fossils found in Utah. The store also sells unique jewelry and home goods made of the rocks including candle holders, wine storage sculptures and more. A geologist’s paradise, to say the least.
Bumbleberry Gifts | From the road this place looks like nothing special. But inside it’s a massive tourist store with park souvenirs, gifts and goods (even hiking boots). The store is also home to the “world-famous” Bumbleberry Pie. Don’t miss the ice cream shop in the back! The store also ships gifts for free.
Joy Craft & Design | This charming boutique sells a variety of home goods, jewelry, stationary, pottery, gifts, you name it. Honestly if it wasn’t for James I probably could have spent hours in here.
Hiking | Because we only had one full day in the park, we opted for the three hikes at stop 7: Observation Point, Hidden Canyon and Weeping Rock. Stay tuned for more about hike recommendations!
Horseback Riding | The lodge at Zion offers horseback riding excursions throughout the year! This would be such a fun activity to consider if hiking isn’t your strong suit.
Park Programs | During the summer months, park rangers offer free, short talks at the visitor center. We enjoyed the small museum (and air conditioning), as well as the 20 minute informational video. The visitor’s center also deserves a special visit all its own!
For more information on Zion National Park, visit www.nps.gov/zion.