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Weekend Getaways: Springdale, UT

Angie Smith

Springdale, UT

It’s just a 2 1/2-hour drive from Las Vegas to this small town on the Virgin River, but the desert gets empty and wild surprisingly fast. Springdale is the anti-Vegas: serious canyoneers mingle with fine-art photographers at weekly gallery openings, the Springdale Fruit Company sells organic fruit smoothies, and plein-air painters head to workshops at the Zion Canyon Field Institute. The biggest draw, however, is nearby Zion Canyon, a narrow funnel of 2,000-foot-high sandstone walls glossy with a crimson patina and top-heavy buttes that appear to shoot straight up from earth to sky. By far the best place to stay is the understated Desert Pearl Inn ($). Like the rest of Springdale, it’s authentic without trying too hard: reclaimed old-growth Douglas fir floors and a tawny palette of neutrals provide a soothing retreat from the blazing red rock outside. During late spring and summer, crowds are a fact of life here, but the guides at Zion Adventure Company can steer you through the lesser-known hikes. If you absolutely must trek the popular, precipitous, and occasionally terrifying 5.4-mile-long Angels Landing Trail, do as the locals do and set out at dawn when it’s cooler and quieter. You’ll be back in time for slow-cooked-pork burritos at Oscar’s Café ($$), a swim in the hotel pool, and a well-earned siesta on your private terrace. Springdale comes alive in the evenings when residents gather for sweet-potato tamales and fresh tilapia at the Bit & Spur ($$) and Saturday-night music festivals at the O. C. Tanner Amphitheater. Before heading back to Vegas, swing by the Red Mountain Resort (treatments from $60) adventure spa—there’s no better way to end the trip than with a regionally inspired hot-stone massage. —Katie Arnold

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