Adventure, Blog

Zion’s Hidden Gems

Our favorite under-the-radar adventures

Vibrant wildflowers, pastel skies. Rushing waterfalls, clear rivers. Warm days, cooler nights. There’s a whole world of adventure right outside AutoCamp Zion’s front doors. Read on for a few favorite ways to venture off the beaten path. 

Partner up with local pros

Book a rock climbing, canyoneering, or combination adventure with the Rock Odysseys crew. We’ve teamed up with them to offer both half and full day professionally-guided trips for all ability levels. What to expect– unbelievable sights, physical challenges, and access to true hidden gems. 

Want to take your climbing skills to the next level? Sign up for a via ferrata experience through our partners at Zion Adventures®. Learn the ropes from their seasoned guides on the walls of one of the most unique private slot canyons in the area. Captivating views of flowing water included. 

Drive or hike along the remote Kolob Reservoir Road

We recommend Kolob Reservoir Road– a beautiful 23.5 mile trail right in Virgin– to every traveler, especially during spring’s prime weather. Lacking the typical Zion crowds, this southern section of the park is full of pleasant hikes, great driving paths, and impressive rock formations. Jump in the Kolob Reservoir for a swim along the way, and soak up the lush local landscape. 

Trek to Toquerville Falls

Make sure you’re in the right SUV for a little off-road excursion, and you won’t be sorry– roughly 17 miles from AutoCamp Zion lies a true desert oasis in Toquerville Falls. A waterfall. In the middle of nowhere. With a swimming hole and meandering trails to explore? We’re in. Despite its obvious appeal, Toquerville Falls is still relatively uncrowded, due to the (somewhat) treacherous drive in, but if properly equipped you’ll be handsomely rewarded with refreshing water hailed from La Verkin Creek. Hot Utah summers are the area’s busiest season by far, so beat the crowds with a spring session. 

Check out uncommon canyons

While The Narrows may be the most famous slot canyon, trying something new pays off at Orderville Canyon, affectionately known as The Narrows’ “Little Sister.” With narrower passageways than its sibling, gorgeous hidden waterfalls, and striated rocks in various shades, canyoneering Orderville Canyon is certainly an adventure. Even though it’s one of Zion’s easier technical canyons, we recommend guided canyoneering tours so all skill levels can safely experience the natural beauty. Pro tip: bring or wear a wetsuit– the deep pools can get a little chilly during early spring.

Enjoy a leisurely lunch + stroll around Springdale

Craving a delicious (and underrated) break from the national park norm? Pick up provisions at Sol Foods Supermarket in downtown Springdale and settle in for a relaxing afternoon picnic at the George Barker River Park. Right outside Zion, this local park is easily accessible and incredibly peaceful. In addition to tables, benches, and grills to cook your ideal meal, the park offers well-kept walking trails, amazing views of the surrounding mountains, and immediate Virgin River access if you’re in the mood for a dip.

After lunch, head back into Springdale to scout out the vibrant local art scene at the David J. West Gallery. From stunning landscape photography to intricate puzzles, greeting cards, and calendars depicting Zion’s treasures, the gallery offers a unique look at the region’s artistic point of view. 

Take a guided gallop

There are plenty of horseback riding opportunities within Zion National Park’s boundaries, but you should venture beyond the typical trails for a unique equine experience. Just a stone’s throw from the park’s entrance in Springdale, Jacob’s Ranch is a reputable independent outfitter offering rides for all ages and skill levels. These tours, guided by expert wranglers passionate about the basics and rider/horse communication, are a safe and scenic way to encounter ancient rock formations, sprawling vistas, and more. You’ll leave feeling like an Old West Cowboy, guaranteed. 

Snap spooky shots

Step back in time to walk through the restored ruins of Grafton Ghost Town, a quaint village first established by Mormon settlers in 1859. Only a short drive from Virgin, the abandoned Grafton is said to be one of the most visited ghost towns in the American West. A lot of that buzz came from its role in the classic film ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, filmed here in 1969. Set up your own Western-inspired photo opp among the schoolhouse, old-timey homes, and historic graveyard, all set against Zion’s looming cliffs. Bonus! Sunny spring weather makes the perfect backdrop. 

Now pack your bags, and prepare to be amazed by Southwest Utah’s under-the-radar wonders.