9 days Zion/Bryce from Vegas

Aug 29th, 2016, 10:32 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 73
9 days Zion/Bryce from Vegas

This coming March planning a trip to SW USA with my wife, just the two of us. Will be there March 10-20.

We are in mid 30s, active. So far draft itinerary looks something like this

March 10 evening arrive LAS
March 11-16 Zion
March 16-18 Bryce
March 18-20 Amangiri, Big Water (birthday present for my wife)
March 20 drive 5 hrs Big Water to LAS, flight at 2200

Considering side trip to North Rim of Grand Canyon, not sure if worth the drive or should skip, go for south rim another time.

Will have lake powell on as a day trip probably. What else should we add? Is capital reef worth the drive? doesn't seem as popular as the others on here.
I'm not inclined to add all the extra driving to go to Canyonlands or arches, am I on the right track?

As far as accommodation goes for Zion. There are 3 or 4 really nice looking places in Springdale, as well as Zion Lodge. For our time of year might be a chance we can drive ourselves into park, not sure. Seems the food at Zion lodge sounds terrible which would be fairly annoying for us over an extended stay. Thoughts? Any particular recs for a younger couple?

in Bryce for accommodation as well, Bryce Canyon Lodge or Stone Canyon Inn. Would Bryce be better served as a day trip?

Thanks in advance!!
tdiddy23 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2016, 03:27 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
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Sounds like the trip is shaping up nicely. As to Grand Canyon, north rim road may not be open and there will be no facilities open in March.

Bryce will be open but it is at 9 or 10 thousand feet so will be winterish. We've stayed in the park there, but there will probably be snow on the trails ( there has usually been snow when we've visited in April). Unless you have proper foot wear (yak-trax etc.) and warm clothing you will not do much other than look at its beauty from the pull offs.

Zion is much lower in elevation, so will be warmer and most likely the trails will be fine. We like staying in the park, but many here prefer to stay in Springdale where there are more creature comforts and dining choices.

I really love Arches and Canyonlands and have done the trip there from Vegas. It is a long drive, but the scenery is fantastic, and since DH likes to drive we found it an enjoyable trip.

If you click my name and scroll down the page, you will find several TRs from the area, at least one or two from Vegas, including some info on where we stayed, if that helps you with your plans
emalloy is offline  
Aug 30th, 2016, 05:34 AM
Join Date: Jul 2016
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North Rim visitor services open on May 15th, doubtful the road into the park will be open in mid-March.

Were you planning a day trip to Lake Powell from Zion? That is a bit of a drive - it would make more sense to visit on your way to or from Las Vegas.

The shuttle into Zion Canyon was mandatory starting March 12 in 2016. Not sure what the starting date will be in 2017, but you will likely need to use the shuttle for most or all of your time there. If you stay at Zion Lodge you will be able to drive your car to the lodge, but that's as far as you can go if the shuttle system is up and running. You might be happier staying in Springdale and having more convenient dining options.

Also, 5 nights at Zion is a lot. You may want to consider dropping a night there and adding an overnight at the South Rim of Grand Canyon if you can rearrange your Amangiri dates.
MidwestHiker is offline  
Aug 30th, 2016, 06:26 AM
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FWIW, we happily spent 7 nights in Zion a few years ago (in April) and didn't run out of things to do. We were supposed to spend two of them in Bryce, but the weather there versus in Springdale was significant (snowy vs. 70 and sunny), so we cancelled our nights in Bryce and stayed put. We hiked nearly every day and rented road bikes another. With one of our extra days, we drove to the Kolob Canyon area of Zion and did a nice hike there (the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek if memory serves). So, while I don't disagree that five nights in Springdale for some is a lot, for others, it might be just right.

I would note that you may find snow on some of the higher elevation trails in March. Granted, snows were heavy the year we visited, but there was still some snow on the West Rim Trail (which is awesome by the way). It didn't impede our progress on the trail in April, but it might have in March.
indyhiker is offline  
Aug 30th, 2016, 10:45 AM
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Thanks everyone.

Good point re north rim, will scratch that.

I get the feeling you may be right regarding timing. Could cut 1 night off of Bryce and Zion, and add Canyonlands/Arches, according to google maps would be an extra 7 hrs total of driving. But considering we may be a bit limited in terms of hikes in Zion/Bryce due to early season maybe this is a good option?

Alternatively for an extra 3 hours of driving could add south rim to the way home, either as overnight or simply stop by on way home. We usually like the nicest hotel experience to be a treat at the end, tough sell to get significant other back into hiking gear after that

Adding both would be too much driving i fear.
tdiddy23 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2016, 04:21 PM
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plagarizing a well written reply

FWIW, I happily spent 7 nights in Zion a few years ago (end April/early May) and didn't run out of things to do.

I hiked nearly every day and rented road bikes several other days, and a mountain bike yet another.

Road biking one day I did several legs up/down the valley, then road out the east side & back. To get through the tunnel I hitchhiked - knocked on the window of a pickup truck and asked if they could take me through the tunnel as you can't ride through.

Another day road biking I road up towards the reservoir on Kolob terrace rd. I hit snow at high elevation and had to high tail it back down before the roads got slick.

The MTB day was spent near Hurricane - I forget the name of the trail but it was a great 1/2 day ride on a plateau - completely alone for most of the day. Perfect.

So, while I don't disagree that five nights in Springdale for some is a lot, for others, it might be just right.

I would note that you may find snow on some of the higher elevation trails in March. Granted, snows were heavy the year we visited, but there was still some snow on the West Rim Trail (which is awesome by the way). It didn't impede our progress on the trail in April, but it might have in March.

For hikes, there are plenty of moderate to strenuous hikes you can take. Narrows (water level permitting), Observation Point. Scout's lookout/Angel's Landing, or beyond there to the West Rim., plus numerous other short hikes. Except for the narrows none of the trails had any restrictions or were anything but clear and dry. Luckily for me the water level dropped below the cutoff and I was able to hike the Narrows (bottom up) for one full day.

At Bryce later the 1st week of May I was not limited in any of the hiking I could do there even with a few inches of snow each night. QG/Navajo loop, plus Peekaboo trail on one day. Fairlyland trail on another.

If you go to Bryce be prepared for winter weather but do not let it deter you from going.
J62 is online now  
Aug 30th, 2016, 04:40 PM
Join Date: Jul 2016
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There's a big difference between mid-March and April or May at higher elevations. I would not plan on doing much hiking on the West Rim at Zion.

Only you can decide if you want to commit 5 days to one park and 3 to another, or if you'd prefer to see other areas at the expense of not fully exploring those 2 parks. There are many, many people who spend 3 days in Zion and 1 in Bryce (in summer) and hit the major highlights, so again I think 5 nights in Zion is overkill especially given the season.

Mid-march average high/low for Bryce is 45F/23F, for Zion it is 63F/36F. Please note those temps for Zion are on the main canyon floor, and you can expect temps on the West Rim to be approximately 10 degrees colder than what I cited above.

MidwestHiker is offline  
Aug 30th, 2016, 06:13 PM
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MidwestHiker is right about Zion. In March, it it highly likely that the West Rim Trail will be impassable (unless you have crampons and an ice axe). The trail frequently remains impassable until May. Even the road to the area may very well be closed. In the main canyon, things will be better, but the two signature trails could be problematic: Angels Landing Trail may be icy, and a hike in The Narrows will be bone chilling (dry suits can be rented if you're really hard core).

Zion is my favorite park, but in Winter I wouldn't spend more than three nights there unless you're experienced in trekking though snow and ice. My preference is a hotel in Springdale. It's convenient to the park, has a number of good hotels, and a number of restaurants there are very good by national park standards. One caveat: I'm not sure which resetaurants are open in the winter months.

If you're looking for the best lodging in Springdale, I'd recommend Desert Pearl Inn; however, there are several other very nice places, as well as decent choices for less money. For food, assuming they're open, some good choices are: Bit & Spur (fancy Mexican); Oscar's (informal; hamburgers and such); Whiptail Grill (Mexican, New Mexican, and vegetarian; located in a former gas station). There are two new places I haven't tried, that are at the high end for Springdale: 9 East (inside Desert Pearl Inn); King's Landing Bistro (inside Driftwood Lodge).

Bryce is significantly colder, and I wouldn't be surprised if the major trails are snow or ice covered. You could even hit a major snowstorm while there. Assuming you can get into the park, I'd probably limit your stay to one night, allowing you to see sunset the first night and sunrise the next morning; you should also have time to spend a few hours driving to other viewpoints on the rim. I'd definitely stay at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon.
lgott is offline  
Aug 31st, 2016, 11:29 AM
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So if hitting Grand Canyon and Moab total driving time is 20hrs or so. A bit much for 9 days, we've done worse, and could plan to get a nicer rental car to make it more comfortable but still not sure.

Is the drive from Bryce to Moab scenic? How about from Moab south on 191 then west on 160?
tdiddy23 is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2016, 09:53 PM
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 555
Personally, all advice on March is valid. Delay at least one month to enjoy the areas.

Since you have considerable time to plan, these are my recommended tour books for this area. These are available on Amazon.


1. Fodor's Utah: with Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef & Canyonlands National Parks About 325 pages
2. Overall touring guide of southern Utah Parks: Utah Parks Driving, Hiking and Mountain Biking. Available in Kindle (about 1,000 pages) and paper back format (about 750 pages). This book gives a time saving mile-by-mile driving guide.
3 . Hiking (family): Wow Utah Canyon Country –Very well illustrated. About 440 pages.
4 . Backroad 4-wheel driving: Canyonland National Park Favorite Jeep Roads and Hiking Trails. White Rim Trail (road) is the premier scenic area in Island In The Sky. This 190 page book has an excellent description of Island In The Sky 110 mile road.
5. Kanab, Utah Area: Vermillion Cliff National Monument that includes North Rim Grand Canyon plus adjacent areas including The Wave
RVvagabond is offline  
Sep 4th, 2016, 08:32 AM
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 70

People have done more driving in fewer days. It's doable, just a question of whether you want to commit the time to it.

There's plenty to fill your time if you don't go to Moab. On the way to Zion, you can stop at Lake Powell, Valley of Fire State Park, and/or Snow Canyon State Park. Near Bryce is Red Canyon, and on the way to Kanab you could stop at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. If you're heading to the South Rim, you will go past Page and can stop at Horseshoe Bend and/or Antelope Canyon. After the South Rim, you could make a detour to Sedona for a night.

If you want to visit Moab, skip all the state parks and do 3 nights in Zion, 1 in Bryce, 2 in Moab, 2 at Amangiri, and the last night at the South Rim. You could drive through Capitol Reef between Bryce and Moab, and then drive through Monument Valley between Moab and Amangiri. You really can't go wrong with any of these scenarios.
MidwestHiker is offline  
Sep 4th, 2016, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 260
Routes 12/24 to Moab is very scenic, through Capitol Reef. Goes from forest to the razor-edge of mountains and then through weird volcanic landscapes beyond the park. Might be advised to check the road conditions on Route 12 near Bryce that time of year.
edjim is offline  
Sep 4th, 2016, 06:47 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,096
I second the suggestion for the Desert Pearl Inn in Springdale. It has been about 6 years since we were there, so prices may be a lot higher now. We really liked the pool-facing units, with total glass wall and interesting decor.
travlsolo2 is offline  
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