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Embark on an exhilarating 3-day journey from Zion to Bryce and discover the awe-inspiring beauty of the American Southwest. Prepare to be captivated by the dramatic landscapes, towering cliffs, and mystical hoodoos that await you at these iconic national parks.
Immerse yourself in the stunning canyons of Zion, where emerald pools and cascading waterfalls create a mesmerizing oasis. Then, venture into the otherworldly realm of Bryce Canyon, where a maze of surreal rock formations paints an unforgettable panorama.
Hike through rugged trails, stand in awe of breathtaking viewpoints, and witness sunrise and sunset illuminating the rugged terrain. Let the spirit of adventure guide you as you traverse this extraordinary path from Zion to Bryce, forging memories that will last a lifetime. Are you ready for the ultimate 3-day escape into nature’s masterpiece?
- 1. Route: Las Vegas to Zion and Bryce Canyon
- 2. Route: Salt Lake City to Zion and Bryce Canyon
- 3. DAY 1 - Zion National Park
- 3.1. Take Zion Scenic Drive
- 3.2. Hike Angels Landing Trail
- 3.3. Watch a Sunset at Canyon Junction Bridge
- 3.4. Settle Into Your Accommodations in Springdale
- 4. DAY 2
- 5. DAY 3
- 5.1. Watch Sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park
- 5.2. Take Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive
- 5.3. Hike Navajo Trail and Queens Garden Loop Trail
- 6. Intrepid Scout's Tips for Zion to Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Adventure
Route: Las Vegas to Zion and Bryce Canyon
If you are starting your Zion to Bryce adventure from Las Vegas, you have a scenic route ahead of you. Many travelers fly into Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) to begin their journey.
GOOD TO KNOW: Las Vegas International Airport (LAS) is located 160 miles from Zion and it takes no more than 2.5-3 hours to drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park.
From there, you can rent a car and follow this route:
- Depart from Las Vegas and head northeast on Interstate 15 (I-15) toward Utah.
- Continue on I-15 until you reach Exit 16 for UT-9 towards Hurricane/Zion National Park.
- Take UT-9 eastbound and follow the signs leading to Zion National Park.
Map of Las Vegas to Zion and Bryce Canyon / Zion to Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Adventure
Route: Salt Lake City to Zion and Bryce Canyon
If you prefer to start your adventure from Salt Lake City, you can fly into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).
GOOD TO KNOW: Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) is located 308 miles from Zion National Park. It will take you at least 4.5-5 hours to drive from Salt Lake City to Zion.
From there, you can rent a car and follow this route:
- Head south on Interstate 15 (I-15) towards Cedar City.
- Continue on I-15 until you reach Exit 27 for UT-20 towards Panguitch.
- Take UT-20 southbound, which will merge with US-89, and continue until you reach UT-9.
- Take UT-9 eastbound and follow the signs leading to Zion National Park.
Map of Salt Lake City to Zion and Bryce Canyon / Zion to Bryce: 3-Day Epic Adventure
GOOD TO KNOW: There are two Regional Airports right next to Zion: St. George (SGU), UT, and Cedar City (CDC), UT. St. George is located 41 miles (about 1 hour) and Cedar City is 58 miles (about 1 hour, 10 minutes) from Zion. Make sure to check both airports to see if there are any flights available to these two locations.
Welcome to the first day of your Zion to Bryce 3-day adventure! Get ready to embark on an exhilarating journey through the remarkable Zion National Park.
On this day, you will have the opportunity to experience the iconic Zion Scenic Drive, hike the thrilling Angel’s Landing Trail, witness a mesmerizing sunset at Canyon Junction Bridge, and indulge in delectable dining options and comfortable accommodations in the charming town of Springdale.
Get ready for a day filled with stunning landscapes, thrilling adventures, and unforgettable moments in the heart of Utah’s natural wonders. Let’s dive into the details of this exciting itinerary and make the most of your Zion National Park exploration!
PRO TIP: If you are visiting between the months of March through November, then you will need to use the shuttle. The park is closed to all private vehicles during that time. Zion National Park has two shuttle routes: the Zion Canyon Line which runs through the length of the park and stops at all the viewpoints and trailheads, as well as the Springdale Line, which provides service in the Town of Springdale and picks up and drops off visitors at the park’s pedestrian/bike entrance at Zion Canyon Village. The cost of the shuttle is included in your entrance ticket. You can hop on and hop off at any of the shuttle stops.
GOOD TO KNOW: All visitors to Zion National Park need to purchase a recreational use pass. You can purchase the recreational use pass right at the entrance to the park. The pass is valid for 7 consecutive days including the date of purchase and costs $35 per vehicle. Make sure to get America the Beautiful National Park Pass, if you are visiting several national parks. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and gets you into all 400+ national park sites!
Take Zion Scenic Drive
Welcome to Zion Scenic Drive, a captivating route that winds through the breathtaking landscapes of Zion National Park. This scenic drive offers a remarkable journey through the heart of the park, showcasing the natural beauty and wonders that await you.
The Scenic Drive through Zion Canyon is approximately 8 miles long one-way. As a reminder, if you are visiting between March and November, then you will need to take a shuttle and hop on and off at all the best stops.
Each stop along the Zion Scenic Drive unveils a unique aspect of the park’s natural beauty, from towering cliffs to serene oases. Soak in the awe-inspiring views and let the wonders of Zion National Park leave an indelible impression on your journey.
Get ready to embark on this scenic adventure through Zion, where the beauty of nature will captivate your senses at every turn. Let the Zion Scenic Drive be your gateway to an extraordinary exploration of this remarkable national park.
Here are my recommended stops:
Zion Scenic Drive / Zion to Bryce Canyon 3-Day Adventure
- Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint
As you embark on this unforgettable drive, the first stop (Zion Shuttle Stop #4) is the Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint. Be prepared to be enthralled by the majestic towering sandstone cliffs that bear the names of biblical figures. These impressive formations provide a glimpse into the geological marvels that define Zion.
What you will see are three neighboring sandstone peaks. They are named after fathers from the Old Testament. From left to right, or south to north, you can see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And, in front of Jacob, is Mount Moroni.
Court of Patriarchs Viewpoint / Zion to Bryce Canyon 3-Day Adventure
- Lower Emerald Pools Trail
Next, get off at Zion Shuttle Stop #5 and take a short and easy hike to Lower Emerald Pools. Emerald Pools Trail is a Zion classic. It is an absolute delight to hike this trail. You will love this serene oasis nestled amidst the desert landscape. This tranquil haven offers cascading waterfalls and lush greenery and provides a refreshing escape in the midst of the arid surroundings.
GOOD TO KNOW: I need to mention that Emerald Pools Trail consists of three sections: Lower, Middle, and Upper. However, the Lower Emerald Pools Trail section is a perfect family-friendly hike in Zion. It is a paved trail with very little elevation change.
It takes about 2-4 hours to complete the entire trail, however, the hike to Lower Emerald Pools takes not more than 30 minutes.
What you need to know is that the waterfalls are reduced to merely a trickle during the summer months. However, if you are visiting in the spring, fall, or winter, you will definitely see an abundance of waterfalls!
Emerald Pools Trail / Zion to Bryce Canyon 3-Day Adventure
- Weeping Rock Trail
The Weeping Rock Trailhead is located at Zion Shuttle Stop #7. It is a short and easy hike (0.5 miles round trip).
Weeping Rock Trail will take you along “weeping walls” with water dripping down the rocks and you will see small rushing streams almost everywhere (depending on the season). But, what is cool about this hike, is that you will see Zion’s famous hanging gardens.
Eventually, the trail will take you into a large bowl-shaped alcove with water flowing over its recess.
Weeping Rock Trail / Zion to Bryce: 3-Day Adventure
Hike Angels Landing Trail
Welcome to Angel’s Landing Trail, a thrilling and iconic hiking experience in Zion National Park. This exhilarating trail offers adventure seekers the opportunity to conquer a challenging route while being rewarded with awe-inspiring views and a profound sense of accomplishment.
Angel’s Landing Trail is known for its steep switchbacks, exposed sections, and sheer drop-offs, offering a true adrenaline rush for those seeking an unforgettable adventure! The trail leads you through breathtaking landscapes, with towering cliffs and sweeping vistas that will leave you in awe.
Angels Landing Trail starts at the Grotto Trailhead. It is Zion Shuttle Stop #6. The roundtrip distance is about 5 miles and it usually takes about 3-4 hours to complete the hike. The trail can be challenging, especially in certain sections where chains are provided to assist with stability. It’s crucial to assess your physical abilities and make informed decisions about whether to proceed beyond your comfort level.
Angel’s Landing Trail / Zion to Bryce: 3-Day Adventure
View from Angel’s Landing / Zion to Bryce: 3-Day Adventure
Watch a Sunset at Canyon Junction Bridge
Next, head to Canyon Junction Bridge (Zion Shuttle Stop #3). It is the one of most famous sunset photography locations in Zion National Park to capture the Watchman Mountain with the Virgin River flowing below.
As the golden hour casts its warm hues upon the towering sandstone cliffs and the Virgin River gently flows beneath the bridge, you will be transported into a world of natural splendor. Find a comfortable spot along the bridge or on the nearby riverbank, and witness the transformation of the landscape as the sun gracefully dips below the horizon.
The vibrant colors painting the sky, the tranquil sounds of nature, and the breathtaking backdrop create an atmosphere of serenity and wonder.
View of the Watchman / Zion to Bryce: 3-Day Adventure
Settle Into Your Accommodations in Springdale
Staying in Springdale is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the charm and convenience of Zion National Park. This quaint town, nestled at the entrance of the park, offers a range of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs. From cozy bed and breakfasts to modern hotels, you will find a comfortable place to rest and rejuvenate after a day of adventure.
Springdale is not only a gateway to Zion, but it also boasts its own unique attractions. Take a leisurely stroll along the town’s charming main street, where you will find an array of art galleries, boutique shops, and local eateries. Indulge in delicious cuisine that showcases the flavors of the region, or unwind with a refreshing beverage at one of the local establishments.
GOOD TO KNOW: I stayed in Springdale several times and my two top choices are Hampton Inn & Suites Springdale/Zion National Park, and SpringHill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park. Both places are clean and comfortable, and the location is perfect.
PRO TIP: As far as places to eat, my recommendation is to head to Oscar’s Cafe. Everything on the menu is simply delicious! However, make sure to try the murder burger or the pork burrito. Another place you should check out is Spotted Dog. My recommendation is to try the Southwest Chicken with wild rice and fresh mango avocado salsa.
Today is day 2 of your Zion to Bryce 3-day adventure!
Prepare to embark on an exhilarating hike through The Narrows, where the Virgin River weaves its way through towering canyon walls. You will love the breathtaking beauty of this narrow and awe-inspiring trail.
Afterward, the scenic drive to Bryce Canyon City will treat you to stunning landscapes along the way.
As you settle into your accommodations, the anticipation builds for the remarkable hoodoos and rock formations that await you in Bryce Canyon. Day 2 sets the stage for an extraordinary exploration of Bryce Canyon National Park, where natural wonders and breathtaking vistas will leave you in awe.
Hike The Narrows Trail
The Narrows trail offers a unique and exhilarating experience, where the river itself becomes your pathway through a breathtaking canyon.
As you navigate the waterway, you will be surrounded by towering sandstone walls. Each step forward unveils new vistas and captivating beauty, creating an unforgettable journey through one of nature’s most enchanting corridors.
GOOD TO KNOW: The starting point for this hike is the Zion Shuttle Stop #9 Temple of Sinawava.
You will start with the Riverside Walk, which is about 1 mile long. The Riverside Walk will take you to the Zion Narrows and it used to be called the Gateway to the Narrows.
Most hikers hike to the section called Wall Street. It is about 1.75 miles from the trailhead then head back.
The Narrows / Zion to Bryce: 3-Day Adventure
PRO TIP: Some advance planning and preparation are necessary for hiking the Zion Narrows.
First of all, the Zion Narrows is open year-round. However, the National Park Service closes the Zion Narrows whenever the water flow is above 120 cubic feet per second. Historically, the month of June has low water levels.
During the summer months, July and August, the North American Monsoon can bring on rapid afternoon rainstorms which may cause flash floods. Weather forecasts need to be taken very seriously.
Second, the water is cold and the current is strong. You will be hiking in knee-deep to waist-deep water. The riverbed has sections of sand and sections of slippery rocks. So, some protective gear is absolutely necessary!
However, the rewards are great! Simply put, this is a spectacular hike. You will be hiking through the canyon with the canyon walls 20 feet apart towering over you.
Drive to Bryce Canyon
Next, it is time to start your drive to Bryce Canyon.
Take Zion-Mount Carmel Scenic Highway and start heading towards Bryce National Park. It will take you about 1 hour and 40 minutes (79 miles) before you reach Bryce Canyon National Park.
Map of Zion-Mount Carmel Highway / Zion to Bryce: 3-Day Adventure
On the way, you will be going through Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. Needless to say, Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel is considered to be an engineering marvel!
Construction of the 1.1-mile Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel began in the late 1920s and was completed in 1930. At the time that the tunnel was dedicated, on July 4, 1930, it was the longest tunnel of its type in the United States.
The purpose of building the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel (and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway) was to create direct access to Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon from Zion National Park.
The tunnel climbs 289 feet from the west to east end at a 3.3 percent grade, sits approximately 800 feet above the Zion Canyon floor, and is 20 feet inside the sandstone monolith in which it is housed.
The fact that workers began at each end of the mile-long project, drilling and blasting through solid rock and darkness, and somehow ended up less than a foot off from meeting perfectly in the middle, is an amazing example of cooperation!
Driving through Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel / Zion to Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Adventure
Once you exit Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, be on the lookout for the trailhead to Canyon Overlook Trail.
Hands down, Canyon Overlook is one of the best views of Zion Canyon!
The parking area is located on the south side of the road, and the trailhead is across the street, on the north side of the road. The hike from the trailhead to the Canyon Overlook is about 1 mile one-way. It is a moderate hike however, it is totally worth it and you should not miss it.
Needless to say, you will be rewarded with some incredible views of the Zion Canyon with the switchbacks below the west end of the Mount Carmel Tunnel, West Temple, the Towers of the Virgins, the Streaked Wall, and the Beehives.
Canyon Overlook in Zion National Park / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon
Sleep in Bryce Canyon City, UT
Once you reach Bryce Canyon National Park, my recommendation is to rest and relax before the busy next day at Bryce Canyon National Park.
GOOD TO KNOW: Nothing beats staying inside Bryce Canyon National Park. However, accommodations are very limited and you should make reservations well ahead of your visit. There is only one lodge, The Lodge at Bryce Canyon, available inside the park. It is a great place to stay since it is situated just steps from the rim. You will be able to access most of the trails without driving. And, what a perfect location to just go out and watch the sunrise or sunset.
PRO TIP: If the lodge is all booked then stay at Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn. I have stayed at Best Western Ruby’s Inn numerous times and it is comfortable and convenient located only 1 mile from the entrance to the park.
Another place that I am recommending is Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel. It is also conveniently located right next to the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. The rooms are spacious, clean, and comfortable. What you might like is that the hotel offers free breakfast and there is an outdoor swimming pool as well.
Also, there is a restaurant next to the hotel which makes it convenient to grab a bite to eat while you are traveling. It’s Ebenezer’s Barn and Grill, offering a cowboy-themed atmosphere and meals.
Watch Sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park
Start your day three itinerary in Bryce Canyon National Park by watching a sunrise. Hands down, sunrises are spectacular in Bryce Canyon!
Inspiration Point is a popular spot to photograph sunrise as well as sunset. Or, photograph the Bryce Canyon at any time of the day from sunrise to sunset. It is the best place to catch all the colors of the Bryce Canyon from glowing reds, and oranges, to bright pinks.
Also, Inspiration Point is the best place to see the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater and to get an idea of how vast the entire area is.
GOOD TO KNOW: What makes Bryce Canyon National Park famous are geological formations called hoodoos. Hoodoos are thin spires of rock protruding from the bottom of the Bryce Canyon. And, you really have to see these rock formations for yourself to understand how nature can be so incredibly fantastic.
All I can tell you is that when you look at the fascinating landscape of Bryce Canyon, you see thousands of chiseled pinnacles, delicate spires, and intricately carved rock formations molded by the endless cycles of rain, freeze, and thaw, by the capriciousness of wind and water.
Bryce Canyon is famous for its most spectacular sunrises / Zion to Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Adventure
Take Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive
After watching a spectacular sunrise, hop into your car and take the Scenic Drive in Bryce Canyon. There are a few stops along the Scenic Drive that you simply cannot miss.
My favorite stop along the way is Natural Bridge Viewpoint. It is one of the best-known natural arches in Bryce Canyon National Park. It is a massive formation of eroded, deep red-hued limestone jutting from the edge of the overlook.
Natural Bridge Viewpoint / Zion to Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Adventure
Another stop that is absolutely spectacular is Sunset Point. It offers incredible views of Bryce Canyon’s main amphitheater.
Sunrise Point is another one of my favorite viewpoints in Bryce Canyon National Park. In my opinion, it is the best spot to watch the sunset in the park. It sits at the most northern spot in the Bryce Canyon and you can watch the sun’s final light along the western horizon for the longest time.
View from Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon National Park / Zion to Bryce: 3-Day Adventure
Hike Navajo Trail and Queens Garden Loop Trail
Next, it is time to do some hiking to see the famous hoodoos up close. One of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon where you can see some of the most famous hoodoo formations is Navajo Trail and Queens Garden Loop Trail.
The trail is about 3.2 miles long and it will take you 1.5-2 hours to complete the loop. The hike is easy/moderate with a sharp incline at the end of the loop that will take you back to the rim.
The trail starts right at Sunrise Point with a series of switchbacks that will lead you down a cool ravine all the way to the main valley of Bryce Canyon.
Navajo Loop Trailhead in Bryce Canyon National Park / Zion to Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Adventure
Eventually, the ravine narrows and starts resembling a slot canyon. This section is known as Wall Street, due to the high, vertical cliffs and narrow passages.
Once you exit Wall Street section, the trail levels off and starts meandering through a wooded area. After about a mile, you reach a junction. At the junction, follow the signs for Queens Garden Trail.
The garden is a beautiful semi-circular ridge of phantom-like rock spires. And, at the center of it all is a swirling, elevated formation thought to resemble Queen Victoria.
Soon enough, you will start climbing back up to the rim. The switchbacks will gradually guide you back up to the rim and you will end up at Sunrise Point.
Once you make it to Sunrise Point, you will be greeted again by magnificent views. Thousands of chiseled pinnacles extending all the way to Fairyland Point are simply incredible. In addition, you will be able to see Aquarius Plateau and the Sinking Ship, a sloping mesa that looks like a ship’s stern rising out of water.
Next, continue along the Rim Trail until you reach Sunset Point where you started your hike.
On the way, you will be passing by one of the most famous hoodoo formations called Thor’s Hammer!
Thor’s Hammer / Zion to Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Adventure
In conclusion, the Zion to Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Adventure is a thrilling and unforgettable journey through the awe-inspiring landscapes of Utah’s iconic national parks. From the towering cliffs of Zion National Park to the surreal hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, this expedition is a feast for the senses and a chance to immerse oneself in the raw beauty of nature.
Whether you are an avid hiker, a photography enthusiast, or simply a nature lover seeking new adventures, this 3-day itinerary will leave you with cherished memories and a deep appreciation for the wonders of the Southwest.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through Zion and Bryce Canyon. Let the adventure begin!