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How to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon in 3 days? Here is a perfect itinerary for 3 days in Zion and Bryce Canyon that ticks off all the major things to do and see in both national parks.

  • Zion and Bryce Canyon are two of the most epic national parks in Utah. The scenery and the views are off the charts and the hiking trails are awesome!
  • The best option for this 3-day itinerary to Zion and Bryce is to fly into Las Vegas International Airport, then rent a car and drive to Zion. It is no more than a 3-hour drive from Las Vegas to Zion.
  • There is a lot to do and see in Zion and Bryce. If you have more than 3 days, then it is great! I made some suggestions of what to do and see if you can extend your visit to Zion and Bryce.
  • The best time to visit Zion and Bryce is spring or fall (April, May, and October). The temperatures are mild, the crowds are low, and you can find some solitude in the parks. Summers are hot with temperatures well into the 100’s F making it rather uncomfortable to explore the parks. Not only the temperatures are high, but the crowds are at their highest levels as well. Expect long lines everywhere, a lack of parking spaces, and lots of companionship on hiking trails. Winters can be cold with freezing temperatures and snow, However, I visited these parks in winter, and hands down, they all look spectacular with a little snow cover.
  • Make sure to get America the Beautiful National Park Pass, if you are visiting several national. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and gets you into all 400+ national park sites.

Click here to buy America the Beautiful National Park Pass.

Did you know that Utah has 5 National Parks? Have you visited all of them? Check out Epic 7-Day Road Trip Through Utah National Parks to inspire you to take a longer trip.

Route: Las Vegas to Zion and Bryce Canyon

Las Vegas, NV is a great starting point when visiting Zion and Bryce. 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.

Zion to Bryce Canyon 3 Days Itinerary

Map of Las Vegas to Zion and Bryce Canyon / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce

3 Days in Zion and Bryce

Route: Salt Lake City to Zion and Bryce Canyon

Another option is to start your 3 days in Zion and Bryce in Salt Lake City, UT, however, you are looking at a long drive before you reach Zion. 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.

Zion to Bryce Canyon 3 Days Itinerary

Map of Salt Lake City to Zion and Bryce Canyon / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce

3 Days in Zion and Bryce

Intrepid’s Tip: 

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.

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon Itinerary

Day 1 - Fly into Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, Drive to Zion, Visit Zion National Park, Sleep in Springdale, UT

Today is the first day of your 3 days in Zion and Bryce Canyon itinerary.

Today, you will fly into Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, then drive to Zion. You will visit Zion and sleep in Springdale, UT.

Zion National Park At-A-Glance

  • What Are Some Cool Facts About Zion National Park

The first Anglo-European settlers, Mormon pioneers, arrived in the area in the late 1800s. They named the area Zion, which is ancient Hebrew for sanctuary or refuge.

The Anasazi were the original occupants of Zion Canyon, a civilization that thrived around 1,500 B.C. You can find traces of their magnificent sandstone villages, a network of roads, and rock art throughout the park today

The Zion Canyon was carved over millions of years by the Virgin River and is approximately 2,000 feet deep.

The California Condor is the largest flying bird in North America and can be found in the wild in Zion National Park.

  • How to Get Around in Zion National Park

Zion National Park has two shuttle routes that operate from March to November: 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.

When the shuttle is in operation the Zion Scenic Drive is closed to all private vehicles. You do not need a permit or reservation to ride a park shuttle. The cost of the shuttle is included in your entrance ticket. You can hop on and hop off at any of the shuttle stops.

  • How Much Does it Cost to Visit Zion National Park

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!

  • Where to Stay When Visiting Zion National Park

Springdale, UT is conveniently located right at the entrance to Zion National Park. There are many options of where you can stay in Springdale and several good places where to can grab a bite to eat.

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.

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.

Take Zion Scenic Drive

Start off your day in Zion National Park with a classic Scenic Drive through the Zion Canyon. It is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of Zion National Park.

Scenic Drive in Zion

Scenic Drive in Zion National Park / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

3 Days in Zion and Bryce 

The Scenic Drive through the Zion Canyon is approximately 8 miles long one-way. If you are visiting between March and November, then take a shuttle and hop on and off at all the best stops. Here are my recommended stops:

  • Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint

One of my favorite stops on Scenic Drive is Zion is the Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint. It is located at Zion Shuttle Stop #4.  It is one of the most inspiring views in Zion National Park.

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 the Patriarchs

Court of Patriarchs Viewpoint in Zion National Park / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon 

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

  • 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. It intertwines past a small stream that rolls down the cliffs and forms several pools.

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 in Zion

Lower Emerald Pools Trail / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

  • 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 in Bryce Canyon

Weeping Rock Trail / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

With More Time in Zion National Park: 

13 Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Zion National Park (Maps+Tips)

Hike Angels Landing Trail

Angels Landing Hike is the most famous as well as the most popular hike in Zion National Park! It is known as America’s scariest hike. The last section of this trail traverses over a narrow spine of the mountain and there are chains to help you pull yourself up.

Effective April 1, 2022, in response to concerns about crowding and congestion on the trail, everyone who hikes Angels Landing needs to have a permit. You can obtain the permit either through a seasonal lottery or the day-before lottery.

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 4-5 hours to complete the hike. Needless to say, Angels Landing Trail is a strenuous hike. It starts off with a series of switchbacks and almost the entire hike is straight up with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. Hands down, you need to be in good physical shape to be able to do the hike Angels Landing.

Angels Landing Trail

Angels Landing Trail / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

Angels Landing Trail

Angels Landing Trail / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce

One Day in Zion

Angels Landing Trail / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce

Find Out More About Angels Landing Trail: 

How to Hike Angels Landing Trail – Step-By-Step Guide

Watch a Sunset at Canyon Junction Bridge

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.

Zion to Bryce Canyon in 3 Days

Canyon Junction Bridge / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon 

Day 2 - Hike Zion Narrows, Drive to Bryce Canyon, Sleep in Bryce Canyon City, UT

This is the second day of your 3 days in Zion and Bryce Canyon itinerary. Today you will start your day off with the famous Zion Narrows Hike!

Zion Narrows is a legendary hike! You will be hiking the Virgin River upstream. The river will be your trail.

Next, you will drive to Bryce Canyon and sleep in Bryce Canyon City, UT.

Hike Zion Narrows Trail

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 turn back.

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.

Learn More About Zion Narrows Hike: 

How to Hike Zion Narrows – Step-By-Step Guide 

Zion Narrows

Zion Narrows / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

Zion Narrows

Zion Narrows / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

After your hike through the Zion Narrows, hop back on the shuttle and head back to where you parked your car.

Next, drive to Canyon Junction Drive and 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.

Drive to Bryce Canyon

Zion Mount Carmel Drive Map

Map of Zion-Mount Carmel Highway / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

Take Zion-Mount Carmel Highway and head to Bryce Canyon. 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!

  • Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel

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 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!

Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel

Driving through Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

  • Canyon Overlook Trail

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 the 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 TunnelWest Temple, the Towers of the Virgins, the Streaked Wall, and the Beehives.

Zion to Bryce Canyon in 3 Days

Canyon Overlook in Zion National Park / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

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.

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 sunrise or sunset.

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.

Day 3 - Visit Bryce Canyon, Drive back to Las Vegas or Salt Lake City and Fly Back Home

Today is the last day of 3 days in Zion and Bryce Canyon itinerary.

Today, you will visit Bryce Canyon and then, drive back to either Las Vegas or Salt Lake City and fly back home.

Bryce Canyon National Park At-A-Glance

  • What is Bryce Canyon National Park Famous For

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.

  • What Are Some Cool Facts About Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is compact compared to other national parks. It encompasses and protects 36,000 acres (56 sq mi) of the high Colorado Plateau.

The area around Bryce Canyon became a National Monument in 1923 and was designated as a National Park in 1928.

A single paved road, built by the CCC in the 1930s runs 17 miles through the heart of the park and provides access to most of the major natural attractions and wonders.

The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874.

Rainbow Point is the highest part of the park at 9,105 feet and Yellow Creek is the lowest part of the park at 6,620 feet.

Bryce Canyon offers world-class stargazing due to its exceptionally high air quality and long-distance from sources of light pollution.

  • How to Get Around in Bryce Canyon National Park

If you are visiting Bryce Canyon National Park during the high season (summer), then the best way to get around the park is by using the shuttle system.

All in all, whenever I visited during the winter months, I have to honestly say, that I never had any problems driving in the park (no traffic jams) or finding a parking spot. However, summertime is a different story altogether!

Now, the shuttle is not mandatory, however, it is highly recommended especially during the summer months, since finding a parking spot could be very challenging.

The bottom line! Bryce Canyon Shuttle System is great and easy to use.  You can hop on (with proof of park admission) and hop off at any of the shuttle stops.

In the spring and fall, the shuttle runs from 8 am till 6 pm. During the summer months (May through September), shuttle service is available from 8 am till 8 pm. Buses typically come by each stop every 15 minutes. You can time the next bus with Shuttle Tracker.

  • How Much Does it Cost to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park

All visitors to Bryce Canyon 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!

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 a 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.

Zion to Bryce Canyon in 3 Days

Bryce Canyon is famous for its most spectacular sunrises / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon 

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

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.

Zion to Bryce Canyon in 3 Days.

Natural Bridge Viewpoint along Scenic Drive in Bryce Canyon National Park / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

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.

Zion to Bryce in 3 Days

View from Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon National Park / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon 

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon 

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

Navajo Loop Trailhead in Bryce Canyon National Park / 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon 

3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon 

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 in Bryce Canyon

Navajo Loop Trailhead in Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion to Bryce Canyon in 3 Days 

At the end of your day in Bryce Canyon National Park, it is time to start getting back home. Ahead of you is a drive to either Las Vegas or Salt Lake City and then a flight back home.

If you have more time, then Zion and Bryce Canyon can be easily combined with a visit to Grand Canyon National Park.

Intrepid Scout's Tips for 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

  • Be Prepared for Crowds – both Zion and Bryce Canyon are very popular national parks. If you are visiting during the summer months, be prepared for crowds.
  • Use the Shuttle Service – Zion and Bryce Canyon offer shuttle service. It is the best and most efficient way to get to all the trailheads and sights.
  • Can you see Zion and Bryce in one day? Yes, you can! It is possible to visit both Zion and Bryce Canyon in one day. You would have a few hours in Zion to make a couple of stops along Zion Scenic Drive, then you would head on to Bryce and finish off your day with a walk along the Rim Trail.
  • Which is better, Zion or Bryce Canyon? In my opinion, Bryce Canyon is better! For me, it is the ultimate Utah National Park! The views are off the charts! 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. There is nothing like that in the entire world!
  • Stargazing in Bryce is awesome! There are many Ranger Programs that offer constellation tours. Some of the best hiking tours in Bryce Canyon National Park that I have done included winter snowshoe hikesfull moon hikesand constellation tours.
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Now, It Is Your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

Are you planning your trip to Zion or Bryce Canyon?

Did you know that Utah has five national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef National Park. Have you visited all of them?

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