Zion National Park to Horseshoe Bend Road Trip

Both Zion National Park and Horseshoe Bend of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area are located in an area of stunning natural beauty in the U.S. Situated along the border between Utah and Arizona, these two areas often get overlooked by visitors in favor of the Grand Canyon. However, in an area this rich in state and national parks, these are two you really shouldn’t miss. Not only are these areas spectacular in their own right, but the journey between the two has everything you need for an epic road trip. So buckle up tight and find out everything you need to know about traveling from Zion National Park to Horseshoe Bend.

Possible Routes and Distance Between Zion National Park and Horseshoe Bend

Zion National Park in southern Utah and Horseshoe Bend in northern Arizona are just 118 miles apart when traveling by the most direct road route. It’s a journey that should only take you just over 2 hours non-stop, but it’s certainly one that you shouldn’t rush. There are several good stops along the way and some terrific scenery.

The direct route forms one of our road trip options, while the other option follows a counterclockwise direction. This second route loops to the south through the Kaibab Indian Reservation, so we’ve aptly named this option the Southern Loop.


Major Stops


Driving Time


  • Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

  • Moqui Cave
  • Kanab

  • Coyote Buttes

  • Old Paria

  • Toadstool Hoodoos

  • Page

118 miles

2 hours 15 minutes

Southern Loop

  • Jem Trail

  • Gooseberry Mesa

  • Pipe Spring National Monument

  • Red Pueblo Museum and Heritage Park

  • Sand Island Petroglyphs

  • Marble Canyon

  • Waterholes Canyon

186 miles

3 hours 30 minutes

Direct Route

The direct route sees you exit Zion National Park just to the east of the town of Springdale. Head east on UT-9 E as far as Mt Carmel Junction before turning south on US-89 S. Along this road, you’ll pass a turn-off for Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, an excellent detour. You’ll also pass by the Moqui Cave and Kanab, two other locations that more than justify stopping. 

From Kanab, the road turns east and skirts along the state border. There are some great detours to Coyote Buttes and Old Pariah, while the road will take you right past the Toadstool Hoodoos. As you cross in Arizona and close in on Horseshoe Bend, you’ll pass through the lovely town of Page. 

Southern Loop

The Southern Loop starts by taking us westbound from the entrance of Zion National Park through the town of Springdale. Continuing past Rockville, Grafton, and Virgin, you eventually reach La Verkin, from where you turn south. At the town of Hurricane, you turn eastbound along State Highway 59 S. On your left, you’ll pass two potential stops in the Jem Trail and Gooseberry Mesa. Continuing southeast, you pass through Colorado City, a good place to overnight, not least because of its excellent brewery. 

The route continues into the Kaibab Indian Reservation, and you can stop at the Pipe Spring National Monument. A little further along the route and just north of Fredonia is the fascinating Red Pueblo Museum and Heritage Park. The journey continues east along US-89A S, and you’ll pass turn-offs for both Marble Canyon and Waterhole Canyon before reaching Horseshoe Bend. Both canyons are well worth visiting along the way.

Best Things to see on the Direct Route

There’s plenty to see on the direct route between Zion National Park and Horseshoe Bend. Here are the very best things to see along the way:

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park – This stunning state park in the far south of Utah has numerous undulating pink sand dunes. It’s a popular destination for hikers as well as ATV drivers. There’s plenty of unique nature to discover here, but you’ll need a trained eye to find most of it.

Kanab – The town of Kanab is a great hub location for exploring the many nearby parks. However, the town has plenty to offer itself, and it occupies a spectacular position, surrounded by Navajo sandstone cliffs. There are some excellent places to eat and stay in town and a decent microbrewery. 

Moqui Cave – The Moqui Cave north of Kanab is a great little stopover. This man-made cave has had a colorful existence with its use as a speakeasy during the 1920s, our favorite story. Nowadays, it’s a tourist attraction and museum that showcases various fossils, rocks, and Native American artifacts. 

Coyote Buttes – This stunning part of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness lies along the state border. It’s an area rich in spectacular geological features with ‘The Wave,’ the piece de resistance. You’ll need a hiking permit to visit here, and with only 64 issued per day, you’ll need to apply well in advance.

Old Paria – The deserted town of Paria, now called Old Paria, is an excellent stop along the way. Once a thriving town, it was decimated by constant flooding from the nearby Paria River. Deserted since 1929, it’s been used as a movie set numerous times due to its spectacular setting below a giant butte. There are remnants of both the original town and movie set here. 

Toadstool Hoodoos – Located just off Highway 89, these unique rock formations are worth seeing. Located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and created by wind erosion, the structures resemble fairy toadstools. You can see them by following a short looping 1.5-mile long trail.

Page – This small town in Arizona is probably the most popular hub for exploring the local area. Set on the southern shores of the impressive Lake Powell, it features a host of fine bars and restaurants. The Powell Museum in town is well worth a visit, providing a historical view of how westbound expansion was achieved. 

Zion canyon in Zion National Park
The dramatic red cliffs of the Zion Canyon in Zion National Park.

Best Things to see on the Southern Loop

Much like the Direct Route, there’s plenty to see along the Southern Loop. Here are some of the very best things to see and do:

Jem Trail – This hugely popular mountain bike trail takes in some fantastic scenery and offers some fast and easy riding. At 14 miles in length, it’s also possible to hike the trail, providing you’re experienced and have the endurance. You should be able to complete the trail within 5 hours. 

Gooseberry Mesa – This is another excellent trail popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and bird watchers. It’s a challenging hike to the top along this 11.4-mile trail, but the views from the top are worth the effort.

Pipe Spring National Monument – Located within the Kaibab Indian Reservation, this fascinating site explains the human history of the area over time. Across the monument, visitor center, and museum, you can learn about the indigenous population, the pioneers, and Mormon settlers. 

Red Pueblo Museum and Heritage Park – This free museum is another that tells the story of the area’s people. It features artifacts from the past 1,000 years, many of which have been donated by the proprietor,  Dixon Spendlove. The museum comes to life when he’s available to talk you through the artifacts.

Sand Island Petroglyphs – Located just off the road, this is another fine stop. It features petroglyphs that date back up to 3,000 years. 

Marble Canyon – Located where the Colorado River meets the Little Colorado River, this canyon occupies a spectacular setting. The nearby Lees Ferry provides access to the river and a small beach for relaxing. Be warned that the water is very cold here. 

Waterholes Canyon – This is a beautiful branched slot canyon cut through the local sandstone. It’s much less visited but equally as beautiful as the nearby and better-known Antelope Canyon. 

Aerial view of Horseshoe Bend
Spectacular Horsehoe Bend is part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Best Time to Visit Zion National Park and Horseshoe Bend

Both Zion National Park and Horseshoe Bend share a similar climate. It’s characterized by extreme variations between the very hot summer months and the cold winter months. This makes the spring and autumn the most appealing time to visit. Temperatures during these periods are comfortably in the high 70s, rainfall is negligible, and days are mostly clear. It is the ideal conditions for hiking.

A visit during the spring or autumn also avoids the peak summer months. Despite the heat, the summer vacations from June through August bring a swathe of tourists. This will generally mean more crowds, higher prices, and less availability. A visit before or after this period means you’ll miss the worst of these peak season issues. 

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