If the journey is the destination, then Zion National Park is just one segment of your experience. Surrounding Zion is numerous “must-see” and “must-do” places for any bucket-list. 

Grafton

The town just before Springdale (the gateway to ZNP) is Rockville. Rockville is the gateway to Grafton (approx. 15 – 20 minutes from the park entrance). Grafton boasts some restored homes and a church from the mid 19th century. The bicycle scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the 1969 film starring Redford and Newman, was filmed in Grafton. You can still walk by the buildings and see the fruit trees and fields. There is an old tractor nearby that many people choose to use as a backdrop for a unique picture with Zion looming large in the distance.  One more point of interest about Grafton, the very first film shot outdoors with people’s voices (called a “talkie movie” was shot at this location as well.  

How to get here: Rockville sits on Highway 9. On the south side of the highway is Bridge Lane. You will be crossing a historic bridge made of iron built in 1924. Once you have passed the bridge, continue for about 3 miles. Roughly 2 miles of this road is unpaved.

The Virgin River

Rent large tubes and float down the river. We write this with caution. Go at your own risk. We have taken children from ages six on up each year for over two decades, for some locals its a rite-of-passage. The Virgin River is like Jekyll and Hyde. It can change day-to-day or minute-to-minute. It can be a torrential mess or a tranquil chill-out float. If there are rain clouds in the sky stay away from the river as it can turn into a flash flood zone and also check the weather forecast as the clear blue sky can become dark and hairy in the blink of an eye. Ok, now that all the disclaimers are laid out on the table we can tell you from experience that floating down the Virgin River can be one of the better experiences to be had in Southern Utah. Tubes can be found along the side of the road at various businesses for rent May-August. Reservations are not needed. Tubing the Virgin River is one of those things that just happens. You don’t really plan for it. If it works out and you are in the area during the right time of the year with the right weather, and you have water shoes (we always wear old tennis-shoes) then do it! You’ll love it. Its typically about a 2-mile float and the duration is about two hours and can go as long as a half-day. Tube rentals run about 20 bucks, plus or minus.

Rentals

Just about every rental item can be found just outside of Zion. If you want to ride horses, you can find them. If you want to rent a slingshot, they got them! If you want to go on a jeep or an ATV tour, you’ll be blown away. Helicopters, yep. Bicycles, absolutely. We’ve done them all, and there isn’t one that topples another they are all unique and amazing in their own right. Going wrong is hard to do. Also, check out the “Dine” section. This section showcases unique eating experiences in or around Springdale. Here you will find some local favorites and some artisan specialties; along with some great local brews, unique in their own right. Springdale is a melting pot of many cultures and has become a symbol of harmony in diversity.

Memories to Last a Lifetime

Like all good things, your Zion experience will end all too soon, but the memories will linger on as beautiful thoughts accompanied by treasured pictures of you and your loved ones. One final recommendation, make a music playlist for your excursion. Once the memory is frozen in time merely hearing a song that was playing while driving through the canyons or down the various roads can bring back a whirlwind of pleasant feelings. See you on the trail fellow travelers!
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