Zion and arches national park are both located in Utah. The landscape of these two national parks is almost similar as well. This makes the people compare these two touring spots quite frequently.
So, zion or arches? Which one is better?
Between Zion and Arches, Zion has more sightseeing spots than arches national park. It has more diversity when it comes to scenic beauty. To visit the whole of Zion park you’d need at least a week. On the contrary, you can visit the whole Arches park in at least two days.
Need more details on the topic? Then go over our full post until the end. We’ve included all the information that you’ll need.
So, let’s begin!
Quick Comparison: Zion Or Arches
Comparison between national parks always exists. Much like Denali park and national park we’re here to talk about zion vs arches.
Before we go through the details, here’s a brief comparison between arches and zion park.
|Aspects||Zion National Park||Arches National Park|
|Suitable for single day trip||No||Yes|
You’ve seen a quick comparison between both national parks. But it’s still early to decide on if Zion or arches are better. Now, let’s move on to the detailed information on both touring spots.
Both zion and arches can be reached through multiple routes as you see fit. Here are the possible routes you can pick for your destination-
Zion National Park
The closest airport from Zion is the McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas. Zion national park tour from Las vegas takes about three hours to drive.
You can also choose to fly to the Salt Lake City(SLC) International Airport. But the Salt lake to Zion national park takes five hours to drive.
There’s another option available if you’re looking for a more time-efficient route. Fly to the St. George Municipal Airport. It’s only an hour’s drive away from Zion park. But the cost will be greater on this route.
Arches National Park
Arches is located just nearby Moab in the southern part of Utah. You can get there by flying to Salt Lake City International Airport. Salt lake to arches national park takes about a four-hour drive.
Another option is to fly at Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT) in Colorado. It takes a two-hour drive from there to reach arches park.
Although Moab has its own airport, the flights are extremely limited. So the other two are more efficient routes.
From open sky to a luxury resort, zion has the best accommodation places. You can choose any hotels from the table below depending upon your preference.
|Purpose||Preferable Accommodation Spot|
|Stargazing||Open Sky Zion|
|Historic||Zion National Park Lodge|
|Luxurious||Zion Mountain Ranch|
|Budget-Friendly||La Quinta Inn & Suites|
|Families||Zion Ponderosa Resort|
Most of these hotels get fully booked in the high season. So better make a reservation at the earliest time possible.
As for arches, these are the most popular accommodation options-
|Purpose||Preferable Accommodation Spot|
|Traditional Stay||Sunflower Hill Inn|
|Luxurious||Hyatt Place Moab, Hoodoo Moab|
|Budget-Friendly||River Terrace Inn|
|Families||Castle Valley Inn, Moab Springs Ranch|
|Eco-Hotel||Red Moon Lodge|
Need A Guide?
Unless you’re new to hiking on marked trails, guides are not needed in zion. If you know hiking and trekking basics, you’re good to go.
You’ll find maps at the entrance of the zion park. It contains information on the hiking difficulty, bus routes, distance, and elevation gain.
The same goes for arches. There are guides available for driving tours that you may hire if necessary. But they are not absolutely necessary.
Wanna Plan The Whole Trip Yourself?
You can definitely prepare for the whole tour by yourself. Here’s all you need to know-
At the entrance of Zion you’ll see Castle Dome Cafe. It’s a snack bar with courtyard seating. Around Springdale from the visitor center, you’ll find many cafes and restaurants.
The popular choices include Cafe Soleil, Zion Canyon Brew Pub, and The Park House. Most of the restaurants around there are at least 4 stars.
In the arches, there’s no restaurant inside the park. So, it’s important that you decide where to have your breakfast. It’s best to pack the lunch beforehand.
Also, Moab is a very busy city thanks to the other touring spots. So make a reservation beforehand with the restaurant. Popular choices include il Posto Rosso, Sultan Mediterranean Grill, Moab Diner, etc.
Here’s the detail on transportation service on both zion and arches-
Zion National Park
Zion has its own shuttle system throughout the whole park. The Zion Canyon shuttle is the busiest transportation service there.
It’s available from March to November on a daily basis due to being the busiest season. No personal vehicle is allowed to enter the park at that period of time.
The shuttle also runs on some weekends in February. It stops by every seven minutes. During the time the zion park shuttle runs, you can’t drive your own vehicle.
So if you plan to bring your own car take highway 9. It’s on the southern side of Archies park from Springdale.
Arches National Park
For Archies, the best option is to bring your own vehicle. The only downside is getting a parking spot in the high season. Even if you don’t bring your own vehicle there are taxi and shuttle services available.
As for bikes, there’s a route that goes through Moab to the arches entrance. However, inside the park, there’s no separate bike lane. So, enjoying the scenic view on bikes while high traffic can be difficult.
Both Zion and arches park is a vast land full of scenic beauty. They would always be on the list of best national parks in USA. But natural beauty isn’t all there is to it.
To make your tour more enjoyable you can engage in many different activities there. Here’s what you can do while your stay at these places-
There are a bunch of activities you can do in both zion and the arches. In Zion, you can go hiking, biking, and different types of tours.
4WD tours, walking tours, cultural theme tours, air, helicopter, & balloon tours are popular. You can also join in scenic drives, sporting events, and different special occasions.
Similar to Zion, the arches park also offers a diversity of activities for the tourists. Here you can also go hiking, one-day or half-day tours, driving, etc.
You can also enjoy rafting in Arches national park. Cultural and theme-based programs are performed here as well.
Souvenirs make our trips memorable and complete. It’s very important to collect a souvenir or two to keep in your collection. So what to get in zion? Here’s the list-
- Crystal rocks
- Mugs or t-shirts with park logo
- Local handmade crafts from Indian tribes
- Houseware with local designs
- Elk and bison jerky etc.
As for arches, the list of souvenirs would be this-
- T-shirts, and mugs with delicate arch hike logos
- Local crafts
What is a Zion national park tour without sightseeing? Sunrise, sunset, and stargazing all are special in Zion National park. It depends on how you wish to observe it.
Here is the list of most popular sightseeing spots in zion park-
- The narrows
- Kolob canyons
- Angels landing
- Pa’rus trail
- Watchman trail
- Emerald pools
- The subway
- Checkerboard mesa
- Court of patriarchs
- Zion human history museum etc
The most popular sightseeing spots in arches include-
- delicate arch hike
- Windows section
- Double arch
- Park avenue hike
- Fiery furnace overlook and hike
- Balanced rock
- Sand dune arch etc
From the list you can see that Zion Park has more spots to visit. The difference would remind someone of Utah vs colorado scenic spots.
Zion national park is a favourite place for many stargazing enthusiasts. It is the darkest night in Springdale. Making it a perfect spot to see the stars and nebulas.
You can get the best views from the eastward cliffs and Kolob canyon viewpoint. Similar to Zion, arches are also an excellent place to stargaze.
The best places for stargazing in arches are-
- Windows section
- Panorama point
- Balanced rock picnic area
- Garden of Eden viewpoint
Final Verdict: Zion Or Arches?
Both Zion and Arches National park are worth visiting. But since both have similar landscaping, zion would be preferable. That’s because Zion has more places to visit than arches.
You’d need at least a week to visit the whole of Zion park. Arches, on the other hand, have fewer places to visit compared to zion. But that doesn’t mean arches park isn’t worth visiting.
It also has some of the best sightseeing spots that you don’t wanna miss. Plus you can manage a day trip there. So, Zion or arches national park? The final decision is yours.
We’ve included a couple of more information regarding arches and zion national park. Hope it’s useful to you.
Is Salt Valley Road suitable for two-wheel vehicles?
Two-wheel vehicles are suitable on salt valley roads in normal circumstances. But on rainy days the road may not be suitable for them. In such scenarios, four-wheel vehicles are preferable.
What is the best time to visit Arches park?
The best time to visit arches park is around April, May, September, and October. During the daytime, the temperature stays between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in these months. Making it the most comfortable weather for visitors.
What is the best time to visit Zion park?
Unlike other national parks, Zion is comfortable for visiting all year around. But the high seasons are from February till November. The temperature is usually low in zion national park most of the time.
So, zion or arches, which one is your pick? Whichever it is, we hope you get the best experience out of your tour. Don’t forget to book the hotels beforehand.
Also, carry plenty of water with you. You’re gonna need it. Wishing you a successful trip to Utah. See you soon!