Jim’s Accessibility Comments:
We drove here from Phoenix on our way to Seattle, and Zion is located on the southern border of Utah, just across the Arizona border. It’s about a 6 hours drive from Phoenix, a 2 ½ drive from Las Vegas and 3 ½ hours north of the Grand Canyon. When planning your trip to Zion, I’d advise booking a room in Springdale, Utah.
Both the town Springdale and Zion Park are situated at the bottom of a relatively level canyon so you’re always looking up at canyon walls, as opposed to looking down at nearby Bryce Canyon. And it’s all connected with wheelchair accessible shuttle buses that includes 9 stops along the way, and you can get on or off as often as you’d like. We made a couple stops so we could stroll along the beautiful river, which runs through the canyon. The concrete walkways were generally quite wide, well-maintained, reasonably level and very wheelchair accessible. Admittedly I didn’t go the full length of the canyon but there’s plenty of accessible territory throughout this magnificent natural wonder.
With respect to driving your vehicle, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is only available to park shuttle buses unless you have a special permit. These can be obtained from the Visitor Center or Museum information desks with documentation of medical condition. For our visit, we booked our hotel in Springdale, drove our vehicle to the Visitor Center, and then took the accessible shuttle buses throughout the park. Your initial stop at the Visitor Center is fully wheelchair accessible including plenty of accessible parking and accessible restrooms.
One of our stops along the Scenic Drive was at Zion Lodge. We had some lunch here, did some shopping and just relaxed a bit. I inquired about accessible lodging at Zion Lodge, which is a large gorgeous rustic lodge, and was told they now have 4 wheelchair accessible rooms. The dining room upstairs is also accessible via elevator. It’s important to note however that without the special parking permit, you are not able to drive into this portion of Zion.
Regarding hotels, during our visit we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Springdale which was relatively new, very nice and very wheelchair accessible. The guest room itself, the bathroom and bed height were all very wheelchair accessible, although the guest bathroom sink was located just outside the bath area and was only 27 inches high. Which was great for me, but perhaps too low for others. Just across the level parking lot was Jake’s Restaurant, which was exceptional and we enjoyed a great dinner. They offer a complete fine dining restaurant and bar and an accessible restroom. I highly recommend Jake’s.
Springdale itself is a charming little town with several very nice hotels and B&Bs, many of which looked wheelchair accessible. And it too is connected with wheelchair accessible buses which makes stops throughout Springdale including the Visitor Center. The town was quite level with new, wide concrete sidewalks making the entire town very convenient for wheelchair travelers. We could have easily stayed several nights in Springdale, enjoyed the shops and magnificent setting and even rolled between the Holiday Inn Express and Visitor Center.
Overall, Zion National Park, the visitor center, museum, restrooms, picnic areas and Zion Lodge are all very wheelchair accessible. There are also wheelchair accessible trails and hikes available. And several campsites are reserved for persons with disabilities. I brought my service dog, Pancho, and he was permitted on leash throughout the park and on the shuttle buses.
Zion National Park is one of the most beautiful and wheelchair accessible national parks in America! And if traveling here, Bryce Canyon National Park is only 1 ½ hours away. It too is spectacular. And for planning purposes, I’d suggest you spend at least a full day or two in Zion, and perhaps 2-4 hours at Bryce Canyon. Zion is far more accessible, and there’s much more to see and do. It is really spectacular!