The last day of our spring break road trip and Utah national park adventure wasn’t even spent in a national park! Unlike Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, we didn’t need as much time as we thought to conquer Zion National Park, which meant we had an extra day to play.
My son’s 13th birthday was during our trip and we wanted to do something extra special to celebrate, so we booked a UTV Tour with Zion Off-Road Adventures. It wasn’t until the afternoon, so we had all morning to check out the local sights like the Grafton Ghost Town and Fort Zion.
We saw Fort Zion on our way into Springdale, Zion’s gateway city. The minute I saw the quirky, cheesy, over-the-top roadside attraction with giant playhouses and a petting zoo, I desperately wanted to stop but we didn’t have time. It totally bummed me out and I secretly hoped we could squeeze in a visit later in the trip. I absolutely LOVE roadside pit stops and the cornier, sillier, and weirder the better.
Fort Zion is a wild west fort with a stagecoach, giant western themed playhouses, and a petting zoo. Inside Fort Zion is The Virgin Trading Post gift shop and the Cowboy Burgers restaurant.
Located just 15 minutes from the Zion National Park Visitor Center in the town of Virgin, Utah, Fort Zion and The Virgin Trading Post is a fun, family-friendly roadside attraction you just can’t miss! From the sign out front to cleverly named playhouses, this is the quintessential, wacky, roadside tourist trap that is totally worth the stop (if you’re into that sort of thing).
While spring break is crowded in some places, it is the off-season at Zion, so there were only a couple other cars in the parking lot when we arrived. It was a little overcast and Fort Zion was dead, which made the entire place feel sort of like a ghost town!
After wandering around the Virgin Trading Post and purchasing some gorgeous crystal and rock souvenirs, I was ready to check out the playhouses and feed some animals. It cost $1.00/person to enter that area of the fort complex and to feed the animals, it costs $1.00 for three carrots.
The kids were great sports about snapping photos in the playhouses and we all had fun feeding the animals — they were pretty aggressive or extremely hungry and completed fiercely for out carrots, which made it even more fun! It was the perfect thing to do before heading over to the Grafton Ghost Town.
Know Before You Go
- Fort Zion and the Virgin Trading Post is a restaurant, souvenir store, and petting zoo with a playground. It is located between Hurricane and Springdale at 1000 W. Highway 9, Virgin, Utah 84779 in Washington County.
- Fort Zion is open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm Sunday through Thursday and 10:00 am to 8:00 pm Friday and Saturday.
- It costs $1.00/person to visit the Wild West forts and petting zoo, and another $1.00/three carrots to feed the animals
- Cowboy Burgers restaurant serves buffalo, elk, wild boar, venison, and even rattlesnake burgers and it’s famous for its homemade ice cream.