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Get ready for an exploration of two of Utah’s most iconic national parks! Start your 3-day road trip in Zion National Park, renowned for its towering cliffs and the Zion Canyon. Continue to Bryce Canyon National Park, known for its unique hoodoos and striking rock formations.

In this post, we’ll break down the must-see spots and practical tips so you can make the most of Zion and Bryce Canyon 3-day road trip.

OPTION # 1: 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.

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.

This choice allows ample time for exploring both Zion and Bryce before returning to Las Vegas. You can catch your return flight home or opt to extend your trip and discover more of what Las Vegas has to offer.

Zion to Bryce Canyon 3 Days Itinerary

Map of Las Vegas to Zion and Bryce Canyon / Zion and Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Road Trip

OPTION # 2: Salt Lake City to Zion and Bryce Canyon

If you prefer to start your adventure from the direction of  Salt Lake City, you can fly into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).

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.

This plan gives you enough time to check out Zion and Bryce before heading back to Salt Lake City. Once there, you can catch your flight home or decide to stick around and see more of what Salt Lake City has to offer.


Zion to Bryce Canyon 3 Days Itinerary

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.

DAY 1: Zion National Park

  • Take Zion Scenic Drive
  • Hike Angel’s Landing Trail
  • Watch Sunset at Canyon Junction Bridge
  • Get a Bite to Eat and Sleep in Springdale

Welcome to the first day of your Zion and Bryce Canyon 3-day road trip.

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.

INTREPID’S PRO TIP: If you are starting your day early in Zio, then you will have ample time to do all the activities on this day. If you are arriving mid-day or in the afternoon, my recommendation is to 1 or 2 activities listed.

GOOD TO KNOW: If you are visiting between 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.

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!

Zion Scenic Drive

Zion Scenic Drive is a route that winds through the landscapes of Zion National Park.

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. Here are my recommended stops:

Zion and Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Road Trip

Zion Scenic Drive 

  • Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint

The first stop (Zion Shuttle Stop #4) is the Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint. These majestic towering sandstone cliffs bear the names of biblical figures. From left to right, or south to north, you can see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And, in front of Jacob, is Mount Moroni.

Zion and Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Road Trip

Court of Patriarchs Viewpoint 

  • Lower Emerald Pools Trail

Next, get off at Zion Shuttle Stop #5 and take a short and easy hike to Lower Emerald Pools.

It is an absolute delight to hike this trail. It offers cascading waterfalls and lush greenery and provides a refreshing escape from the arid surroundings.

GOOD TO KNOW: I need to mention that Emerald Pools Trail consists of three sections: Lower, Middle, and Upper. 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 see an abundance of waterfalls!

Emerald Pools Train in Zion

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 in Bryce Canyon

Weeping Rock Trail / Zion to Bryce: 3-Day Adventure 

Hike Angels Landing Trail

Angel’s Landing Trail, is a thrilling and iconic hiking experience in Zion National Park. It is known for its steep switchbacks, exposed sections, and sheer drop-offs, offering a true adrenaline rush for those seeking an unforgettable adventure!

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.

INTREPID’S PRO TIP: The trail can be challenging, especially in certain sections where chains are provided to assist with stability. It’s crucial that you assess your physical abilities and make a decision about whether you are up to it.

Angel's Landing

Angel’s Landing Trail 

GOOD TO KNOW: 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.

View from Angel's Landing

View from Angel’s Landing 

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 Watchman Mountain with the Virgin River flowing below.

Make sure to 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 Watchman Mountain in Zion

View of the Watchman 

Settle Into Your Accommodations in Springdale

Springdale is a quaint town nestled at the entrance of the park. It 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.

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.

DAY 2: Zion and Drive to Bryce Canyon

  • Hike The Narrows
  • Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Settle Into Your Accommodations in Bryce Canyon City

Today is day 2 of your Zion and Bryce 3-day adventure!

You will hike through The Narrows, where the Virgin River weaves its way through towering canyon walls.

Afterward, the scenic drive to Bryce Canyon City will treat you to stunning landscapes along the way. You will sleep in Bryce Canyon City.

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, 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 and then head back.

Tips for Hiking the Narrows

The Narrows / Zion and Bryce Canyon 3-Day Road Trip

INTREPID’S PRO TIP: Some 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 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 the 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.

Zion Mount Carmel Drive Map

Map of Zion-Mount Carmel Highway / Zion and Bryce Canyon 3-Day Road Trip Adventure

On the way, you will be going through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel 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.

Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel

Driving through Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel 

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 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

Canyon Overlook in Zion National Park 

Sleep in Bryce Canyon City

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.

DAY 3: Bryce Canyon National Park

  • Watch Sunrise in Bryce Canyon 
  • Take Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive
  • Hike Navajo Trail and Queens Garden Loop Trail

Watch Sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park

Start your day 3 itinerary in Bryce Canyon National Park by watching a sunrise.

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 have to see these rock formations for yourself to understand how nature can be so incredibly fantastic.

Zion and Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Road Trip

Bryce Canyon is famous for its most spectacular sunrises 

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 and Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Road Trip

Natural Bridge Viewpoint 

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 and Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Road Trip

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

Navajo Loop Trailhead 

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

Thor’s Hammer 

Zion and Bryce Canyon: 3-day road trip 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.

Whether you are an avid hiker, a photography enthusiast, or simply a nature lover seeking new adventures, this road trip will leave you with a deep appreciation for the Southwest.

Intrepid Scout's Tips for Zion and Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Road Trip

  • Plan and Book in Advance: As these national parks are popular destinations, it’s recommended to plan your trip and make necessary reservations for accommodations and activities to secure your spot.
  • Be Prepared for Hiking: Both Zion and Bryce Canyon offer incredible hiking opportunities, so be sure to pack appropriate hiking gear.
  • Check Weather Conditions: Utah’s weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared for changing conditions.
  • Start Early: To make the most of your time in the parks, start your days early. This allows you to beat the crowds, find parking easily, and enjoy the cooler temperatures for hiking.
  • Stay Hydrated and Snack Smart: Bring plenty of water and nutritious snacks to keep you energized throughout the day. There are limited food options within the parks, so having your supplies ensures you won’t go hungry.

Read All the Posts About National Parks in Utah: 

Utah Travel Guide


Read All the Posts About the United States of America in: 

United States Travel Guide

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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, and Capitol Reef National Park? Have you visited all of them?

Please let me know! Drop me a quick comment right below!

Click on any of the images below to get inspired and to help you with the planning process for your trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon.


2 thoughts on “Zion and Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Road Trip Through Utah’s Iconic Parks

  1. Susan

    Thank you so much for your input on this amazing part of the world felling blessed to be going there in 2 weeks !

    1. 2023-04-02

      Wonderful! Have a great time!

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