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Mountain Majesty Awaits Conference Attendees

If the red rocks of Greater Zion seem otherworldly to meeting attendees, that’s because Greater Zion is almost another world.

Comprising one of the nation’s most popular national parks, four state parks and countless geological wonders, the region’s beauty is enough to shift perspectives. Visitors can cross items off their travel bucket lists, feel reprieve from the chaos of daily life and draw new inspiration from the natural world here. But that’s not to say the towns peppering the region aren’t equally inspirational, with their lively arts and culture scenes and delicious cuisine.

“The Greater Zion area really encompasses what we call Washington County,” said Joy Schroeder, meeting and convention sales manager at Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office. “Everyone has a little bit to offer.”

Greater Zion will host the 2024 Small Market Meetings Conference, September 25–27, to show planners what makes the region a shoo-in for meetings, from its breathtaking natural setting to its range of amenities, venues and lodging.

Destination Appeal

The biggest appeal of the Greater Zion area is the national park for which it’s named. Zion National Park was Utah’s first national park, established in 1919. Zion sometimes means “sanctuary” or “refuge,” and the landscape lives up to the name.

With its towering red cliffs strikingly set against the blue sky, dramatic arches and peaks, and rushing rivers carving their way through deep canyons, the park takes beauty to a new level. Popular hikes take park visitors through picturesque slot canyons, windy riverbeds and up steep slopes for once-in-a-lifetime views.

More than 4.6 million people visited the park in 2022, making it the third most visited park that year, just behind the Grand Canyon. It has become a travel bucket list item for many.

“Zion National Park will fit into your itinerary for the conference however you need it to,” said Schroeder. “Some people will come before and do a pre- or post-visit to Zion on their own. Hiking the Narrows is very popular — you would probably want a group guide for that.”

A few of the park’s other can’t-miss sights include its Emerald Pools, the Canyon Overlook trail and Petroglyph Canyon.

In addition to the splendor of the popular national park, the communities of the Greater Zion area each have distinct offerings. St. George is a hub of museums, restaurants and shops, as well as its own outdoor offerings.

Another major draw for Greater Zion is the weather. While some higher elevations see snow, the Greater Zion area doesn’t tend to get much. Like many other destinations in the southwestern U.S., it enjoys milder winters, making for an ideal destination for meetings taking place during the colder seasons.

“It’s kind of the best of both worlds,” Schroeder said. “You’re seeing these beautiful rock formations and this beautiful scenery, but you can look up to the mountains and see they’re covered with snow.”

Major Meeting Spaces

The largest meeting space in Greater Zion area is the Dixie Convention Center, located in St. George. With 100,000 square feet of meeting space, the convention center provides ample space for meetings and events surrounded by the idyllic natural scenery of the area. It also offers free parking, like many of the other venues in the region.

The Dixie Convention Center offers 46,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space, as well as a 13,000-square-foot ballroom (divisible into six sections) that can accommodate up to 1,500 attendees for a reception. With plenty of additional meeting rooms, pre-function spaces and a large parking lot, the center can host events of all sizes.

“For exhibitors, having that column-free space can be a really big plus depending on how they’re laying things out for their show,” Schroeder said.

The St. George area has several hotels with meeting and event space. The Hilton Garden Inn, adjacent to the Dixie Convention Center, offers 9,600 square feet of total event space and 150 guest rooms. The Best Western Plus Abbey Inn, a 154-room hotel with 5,000 square feet of meeting and event space, can host up to 280 for a banquet. The Courtyard by Marriott has 7,600 square feet of meeting space, including a ballroom that can seat 300 for a banquet.

The opening of a hotel property at Black Desert Resort will eventually add to the area’s meeting and event space. When it’s completed, the resort will include a 19-hole golf course designed by the late pro-golfer Tom Weiskopf, several villages with shopping and attractions, a waterpark, a spa, many restaurants, and a hotel with meeting and event space. The resort will host the PGA Championship in the fall of 2024.

Off-site Venues

In addition to all the natural backdrops the Greater Zion area provides for meetings, it also has quite a few interesting venues for receptions, social events and other off-site events.

Tuacahn Amphitheatre is a gorgeous outdoor amphitheater surrounded by the red rocks of the region presents holds Broadway-style performances from May to October. Included in the complex is a 300-seat indoor theater, which can work perfectly for general sessions. Post-meeting, attendees can watch a performance in the amphitheater, which is expanding to include 2,400 seats by May.

“It’s not only a gorgeous setting with great talent, but I’ve promoted it to do some unique meetings,” Schroeder said. “It lends itself to something unique.”

AutoCamp Zion offers high-end glamping opportunities not far from Zion National Park. It lets guests experience a proximity to nature not generally found in hotels. Guests can stay in cabins or in Airstream trailer suites featuring high-end modern amenities, and an onsite kitchen and general store provide plenty of food options for guests. A 1,200-square-foot event space with floor-to-ceiling windows provides beautiful views of the red rocks surrounding the camp, making it perfect for events.

“People get creative and do general sessions in that space, then they go on a breakout session on a hike,” Schroeder said.

Another elegant off-site venue is the Holmstead Ranch, which is just a quick drive from St. George and is perfect for retreats, business meetings and seminars. It offers overnight accommodations at several cabins, glamping cabins and wagons, and a lodge. Its indoor spaces include the pavilion, which can host up to 180 for a banquet or 200 classroom-style. For smaller meetings, the ranch’s clubhouse has a capacity of up to 60 attendees.

After-Hours Fun

Zion may be the area’s biggest draw for visitors, but that doesn’t mean the rest of Washington County isn’t jampacked with opportunities for recreation and leisure.

“If you want to do some hiking but Zion doesn’t fit into your itinerary, we have four state parks within Washington County you can go take advantage of,” Schroeder said.

Hiking, biking and e-biking are all exceptionally popular at these state parks in the Greater Zion region. Gunlock State Park and Sand Hollow State Park each have a gorgeous reservoir, where attendees can try paddleboarding, kayaking, boating and a number of other activities on the water. Quail Creek State Park is also no stranger to fun water activities.

Snow Canyon, in close proximity to Zion National Park, is often called Zion’s little brother. Snow Canyon rivals Zion in beauty but is much less crowded. It’s a popular spot for horseback riding, hiking, canyoneering, biking and seeing petroglyphs carved into a slot canyon by Native Americans hundreds or thousands of years ago. These stunning archaeological wonders make the hike worthwhile.

If indoor activities appeal more to attendees, they’ll find a variety of museums, historic sites and entertainment venues to explore. Ranging from the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum, which is located in the Dixie Convention Center, to the Hurricane Pioneer Museum to the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, the varied collection of distinct museums ensures attendees will learn something new during their stay in the region.

Attendees can check out several art galleries, museums and studios in their spare time, including the St. George Art Museum, Kayenta Art Village and the David J. West Gallery. Each of these displays fascinating collections of art across many mediums, from photography to pottery made by Indigenous artists.

The food scene in the Greater Zion Region is extremely varied.

“We have restaurants with all levels of dining in St. George,” Schroeder said.

That includes casual cafes, delis and bakeries where attendees can fuel up before a hike, as well as fine-dining restaurants where they can relax with breathtaking views of the landscape, such as Cliffside, an American restaurant overlooking St. George. Its menu includes delicious surf and turf options, and it also offers space for private dining.

To register for the 2024 Small Market Meetings Conference in St. George, Utah, please go to