Little town in the big desert
Zion National Park is in the southwest corner of Utah, in the United States. There are many options to travel to Springdale; most people either drive from their homes, or fly into the gateway cities of St. George, Las Vegas, or Salt Lake City. Folks sometimes fly into Phoenix or Flagstaff for their Zion visit, but this is uncommon.
Here's a quick guide on how to get to Zion from St. George, UT, Las Vegas, NV, Salt Lake City, UT, and northern Arizona. Also, pro-tips for traveling around the Zion area (including the towns of Rockville, Virgin, and the "East Side" of Zion.
Via Saint George, Utah: 40 miles, 1 hour
The closest city with an airport, rental cars, and amenities is Saint George, a city of about 75,000 people. St. George is located on Interstate 15, 60 minutes southwest of Zion and 2 hours northeast of Las Vegas. St. George finished a brand-new airport in early 2011, so airfares into SGO may become more reasonable as volume increases. Daily flights from Salt Lake and Los Angeles.
Via Las Vegas, Nevada: 170 miles, 3 hours
Out-of-state and international visitors may find it easiest to fly into Las Vegas, Nevada, and rent a car. This city is completely organized around low airfares, easy car rentals, and plentiful rooms, so making arrangements is both easy and fairly inexpensive. A very affordable shuttle service can take you to St. George OR direct to Zion, if you wish to avoid a car rental. Important Note: Las Vegas is in the Pacific Time Zone, while Utah is on Mountain Time Zone. If it is 3 p.m. in Utah, it is 2 p.m. in Las Vegas.
Via Salt Lake City, Utah: 305 miles, 5 hours
While SLC and Zion are both in Utah, they are on polar ends of the state. Salt Lake is a common entry point for Zion visitors, however, hosting a superb international airport, copious rental cars, and easy access to Interstate 15 for the drive south to Zion.
Via Northern Arizona, NV: 120 - 250 Miles, 2.75 - 5 hours
Visitors are often visiting multiple parks in the Colorado Plateau area, including the Grand Canyon region of Northern Arizona. If traveling to or from Utah to Arizona, note there is sometimes a time difference of one hour from March to October (Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings). The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is open mid-May through October 15 each season.
The Zion Area
The Zion Canyon area is made up of a few small towns: Springdale, Rockville, Virgin, and the "East Side" of Zion. Springdale is adjacent to Zion National Park; you can easily walk or take the free shuttle to access the Park. Rockville is adjacent to Springdale; it takes about 5 minutes to drive from "downtown" Springdale to "downtown" Rockville. Ten minutes west of Rockville is Virgin, another small town with a cafe and a few isolated shops. La Verkin and Hurricane are about a 30 minute drive southwest of the Springdale, but provide cheaper accommodations or more options if hotels are fully booked. The East Side of the park, outside the East Entrance, is a more quiet, wilderness setting, about a 20 - 30 minute drive to the main entrance. There are only a few amenities on the East Side, until you reach Mt. Carmel Junction, where you can find fuel, food, and rooms.
Many hikes and canyons are accessible via the town and shuttle system. However, if you want to visit the Kolob Canyons or Kolob Terrace sections of the Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, or other surrounding areas, you should rent a car. November through March, you'll want a rental car. April through October, you don't necessarily need a rental car. Read GETTING AROUND ZION for information on transportation options in the Springdale/Zion area.