Zion National Park is the ultimate vacation destination. And thanks to its large size, you could visit for several weeks and still not see everything. But if hiking every day isn’t your thing or you’re just looking for a chance of scenery, you’re in luck. There are plenty of state and local parks just a day trip away from Zion. Keep reading to learn about 5 stunning state parks that are less than an hour from Springdale.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Want to break up your visit to Zion with something you can’t do in the national park? Head to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park for the day.
This unique park is one of the best-kept secrets in Southern Utah. While you might expect sand dunes in the Sahara Desert, most people don’t realize that there are some in the deserts of the Southwest, too. You’ll find some of them here in the park, These dunes, named for the light pink hue they turn at sunrise and sunset, were formed between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago when the Navajo sandstone rock was eroded by wind and water.
The state park covers more than 3,000 acres, though a small portion is designated as restricted conservation areas. On the dunes, visitors can ride ATVs and UTVs, hike, or even go sand sledding.
Located just a half-hour from Zion, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is the perfect day-long adventure or even a half-day excursion.
Sand Hollow State Park
Coral Pink Sand Dunes isn’t the only spot you’ll find dunes in Southern Utah. Sand Hollow State Park is another great destination for hiking the dunes or renting off-road vehicles. A little further away, this park is still just 45 minutes from Springdale.
The sand dunes are far from the park’s only attraction. Many visitors come for the large lake, where you can go boating, cool off during the summer with a quick dip, or even water ski. At 20,000 acres, the park has plenty of space to stretch out, not to mention enjoy a tranquil hike or even spot some of the area’s abundant wildlife.
Quail Creek State Park
Thanks to its large size, the lake at Sand Hollow State Park is a popular destination during the summer months. If you want to avoid some of these crowds, or are more interested in fishing than watersports, head to Quail Creek State Park instead.
An hour’s drive from Zion, this park is home to a reservoir known for its range of fish species. In the deep, cooler water, which can reach up to 120 feet in depth, you’ll find rainbow trout, bullhead catfish, and crappie. The shallower waters are regularly stocked with sportfish like largemouth bass as well as bluegill.
Quail Creek isn’t just a summer destination. Because it holds some of the warmest water in the state, the lake can be enjoyed earlier and later in the year than you might be able to swim or fish in other parts of the state. Plus, the park as a whole experiences more mild winters, making it a great spot for hiking when snow and ice close trails in Zion.
Snow Canyon State Park
Whether you’re looking to beat the crowds of Zion on a busy summer day or just want to hike some new trails, Snow Canyon State Park is a great place to do so. With geological formations and landscapes that rival even Zion, you might just find yourself wondering why this isn’t a national park as well.
Take a hike or even just a drive through the park and look out for volcanic cones, towering sandstone cliffs, twisted rocks, and even a few sand dunes.
Covering more than 7,000 acres, the park features trails and routes for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and more. While the name might suggest otherwise, the park rarely sees snow, making it a year-round destination.
Frontier Homestead State Park
If you’re looking to take a break from hiking, boating, or off-roading but still want to spend time outdoors, head to Frontier Homestead State Park. Just an hour’s drive from Springdale, Frontier Homestead is a history buff’s dream. The main attraction is the Frontier Homestead State Park Museum. The museum is dedicated to teaching visitors the history of one of the area’s earliest industries, the cultivation of iron ore.
Starting in 1851, pioneers in the area, eager to build towns, mines, and other structures that required iron, were experiencing a shortage of the metal. These Mormon pioneers, sent to the area by the famous leader Brigham Young, decided to build their own blast furnace. They moved to the Cedar City area to do so, and by 1852 a small community had sprouted up, founded by workers running the foundry.
Today, you can not only see the remains of the foundry but also wander some original cabins and other ruins built by those early pioneers. A museum on-site exhibits preserved horse-drawn farm equipment and other artifacts. You can also watch pioneer craft demonstrations.
Planning Your Next Vacation to Springdale
Any of these state parks is a destination all its own. But thanks to their close proximity to Zion, you can easily take a day trip during your next vacation to Springdale!
Got questions about other day trips or adventures you can enjoy in the area? Stop by the Springdale Visitor Center and let our experienced staff help you plan a perfect day!