Zion Scenic Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2021)
- Intrinsic QualitiesScenic
- Length54 miles
Showcases incredible scenery with towering sandstone cliffs and majestic mesa. The Virgin River runs alongside the Byway and offers opportunities for recreation, as well as important riparian habitat for wildlife. Historical and cultural amenities are scattered throughout the Byway corridor. The Grafton ghost town, historic cemeteries and well-preserved historic homes and buildings all are reminders of the area's history of settlement. Archeological resources preserve the story of the region's earliest inhabitants. Hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, river tubing and a host of other activities provide recreation options for every ability and interest.
Story of the Byway
Hwy 9 is the major road providing access to Zion National Park. It winds past the park visitor center and museum, and past many famous Zion landmarks. It provides access to Zion Canyon (accessible by shuttle only during the tourist season) and then goes through the park's mile-long tunnel. It cuts through the park's Checkerboard Mesa area and then ends at Hwy 89 at Mt Carmel Junction. A fee is charged to drive through the park.
The byway parallels the Virgin River in many areas. Near I-15, it provides access to Quail Creek and Sand Hollow Utah State Parks. It cuts through the towns of Hurricane, Virgin, Rockville, and Springdale before entering the Park.
Near Rockville, it provides access to Grafton ghost town, a photogenic site that was featured prominently in the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." Large vehicles and RVs are required to pay an escort fee to travel through the Zion Tunnel.
You can drive the byway as part of a loop, circling north and returning via Hwy 14 over Cedar Mountain, or circling south and returning via Hwy 89 through Kanab and Fredonia, and then Hwy 389 through Colorado City to Hurricane.
The State Scenic Byway runs the length of SR-9. The National Scenic Byway designation covers a smaller stretch of SR-9. It begins in the City of La Verkin (at the intersection for SR-9 and SR-17) and continues to the East Entrance of Zion National Park, stopping short of Mt. Carmel Junction. The western entrance to the Byway in La Verkin is marked with a sign indicating the beginning of the "Zion Canyon Corridor."
Points of Interest
Confluence Park is a 344 acre natural park managed by Washington County through the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve office. It is uniquely located within the boundaries of Hurricane and LaVerkin, Utah where Ash Creek and LaVerkin Creek meet the Virgin River. Confluence Park sits at the bottom of large basaltic lava cliffs, leaving it isolated and protected from development in the cities above.
La Verkin Overlook
The La Verkin Overlook Trail is a short old trail on BLM lands. It is just off the the edge of the cliffs and provides good views down into a section of gorge that has been cut by the Virgin River.
Grafton Historic Townsite
Set in the midst of world-famous Zion National Park, the remains of the once-bustling Grafton now stand as a ghost town in honor of the hard work that so characterized the early settlers. Grafton’s overwhelming beauty was not lost on Hollywood scenes in at least three movies, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, were filmed at the site in 1969.
Falls Park (Sheep Bridge to the locals) was established by the BLM to accommodate the growing number of people visiting the popular swimming and tubing area of the Virgin River. There is about a mile stretch of river that can be enjoyed, with sandy beaches, fun tubing rapids and even places to jump off the rocks into the river.
Sheep Bridge Road
An extensive mountain bike trail system surrounds Sheep Bridge Road. Use Sheep Bridge Road to get to the Hurricane Cliffs Recreational Area.
The unusual crack pattern in the sandstone hills resembles the grid pattern found on a checker board.
Zion National Park
Starting in St. George, pack a picnic and head north for 6 miles to reach Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Spend the morning exploring the scenery and wildlife in this stark rock landscape. Drive south for 6 miles to return to the byway, then take UT-9 E for 60 miles to Zion National Park. Stop for lunch before selecting a campground. Set up camp, take a short hike, then settle in for a camp dinner among a starry night.
Wake early for a camp breakfast before heading out to explore the park. Select from horseback riding, hiking, biking or canyoneering, and set off for a day of adventure. Pack up camp and enjoy an area restaurant before ending the route in Mount Carmel Junction.
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