Grand Canyon or Zion / Bryce

Dec 13th, 2011, 11:39 AM
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Grand Canyon or Zion / Bryce

Going to be in Las Vegas 3/21 to 3/27. Not wanting to spend entire time in LAS was thinking of 2-3 days doing either GC or Zion / Bryce. Question is which would prove to be better from a weather perspective at that time of year (of course, no one can guarantee what the weather will be but would like opinions of others experiences). Thanks for all input.
nygvic is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 12:17 PM
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First, I like Bryce and Zion far better than the GC.
However, the GC is a sight like no other. That said, after the initial view, you really need to do a considerable amount of hiking, riding, or rafting for the real beauty/understanding of it. Even then, I still like Bryce/Zion better.

I think a lot of Bryce trails might be closed(you might could do some snowshoeing)in March. I think The Narrows and Angels Landing are must dos in Zion if you are adventurous. The Narrows would be very cold and might be going to fast in March. If there is ice on the trail to Angles Landing, it would be to risky to hike it. Hiking down into the GC a bit might be icy in March as well(I think).

To me, Bryce and Zion are just as awesome a sight as the GC, but they have a lot more to do. At the same time, the GC does offer a huge shock and awe first moment.

Now, I haven't been to any of these places in the winter or that early of a spring, so I am certainly not one that should really offer much advice.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 12:20 PM
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When I say more to do- I mean more options on hiking trails easy, moderate, hard, adventurous, horse rides, tubing, canyoneering, many different areas to see like waterfalls, arches, tunnels, etc.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 12:57 PM
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Posts: 12,269 my fav personally might rent a car
and drive down stay on the S Rim at El Tovar warmer more
scenic than Utah then.Add a jag down to
too if time super scenic. Have fun!
qwovadis is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 04:16 PM
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If by "two days" you mean "I wake up Day 1 in Las Vegas, and by the end of Day 2 I MUST be back in Vegas," then I'll recommend the Grand Canyon. That amount of time would be just about right for a first time visit. Particularly in the winter months, any more than that would be ill-advised for anyone trying to avoid bad weather on a trail.

If by "two to three days" you mean "I wake up Day 1 at the Park, and by the end of Day 2 or 3 I can still be in the Park," then I'll recommend Bryce / Zion. Not that the Grand Canyon isn't one of the most beautiful sights on this planet -- it is -- but even two full days (let alone three) in winter would be far too much for anyone not interested in MAJOR hiking.
PaulRabe is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 05:12 PM
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Bryce will have snow and the hoodoos with snow are incredibly beautiful. You can spend a day here and go snowshoeing or cross country skiing if you like too.

Zion will be about the same temps as Zion. Lots of great hikes to do at Zion even in March. I wouldn't recommend the Narrows at that time, but Angles Landing would probably be just fime - as long as you stop at Scout's Overlook. No need to go the whole way on the last part where the trail gets questionable even with dry footing.

We have never established whether or not quovadis have ever visited 90% of the places he posts about, so take that advice with caution. He/she posts on nearly every thread on Fodors, always with tons of links. Sometimes I think this poster does nothing but Google all day. Sorry, just have to speak my mind.
Dayle is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 05:21 PM
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Plan is to arrive LAS late afternoon on 3/21 and stay 2 nights. Then morning of 3/24 head out to either GC or Zion / Bryce. Be back in LAS on 3/26 late afternoon.
nygvic is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 05:36 PM
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ny - sorry meant to say Zion will be about the same temps as GC.
Dayle is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 06:27 PM
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Given your time, I would go to GC with a stop at Hoover Dam either on the way out or back.

If It looks like bad weather, then stick closer to Vegas and maybe do Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire.
emalloy is offline  
Dec 13th, 2011, 08:21 PM
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To your question, I think GC will be easier to reach if the weather is bad. I have been to the GC in the winter and thought it even greater with a crown of snow. But I have seen pictures of a snow-covered Bryce and thought it stunning.
VolCrew is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 03:08 AM
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It might be best to go which ever one peeks your interest the most. At this time of year, you could book a room at both places and cancel a few days ahead of time depending on how the weather is. As far as just going to one or the other, you really can't go wrong. You can look at the parks websites and get a bit of a feeling about how the weather would be, but your not really going to know until about a week ahead of time and then really really really know until a day or two ahead of time.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 07:25 AM
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I'm amused by dayle.

I also agree with her.

I would pick Bryce/Zion over GC any day of the week.

Even in the snow I'm sure Bryce is beautiful though i've never been there in winter. You can get up early for a sunrise, walk along the rim and probably hike part way or all of Navajo Loop and queens Garden. Not sure about these.

For Zion you could hike Angels Landing up to scouts Lookout and a few others.

As I've written before (and slammed for it), GC is a sight but far from one of my favorites.
Myer is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 08:26 AM
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As usual, after visiting these 3 parks last summer... I agree with Myer and spirobulldog.
wrongfoot is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 09:24 AM
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Before I did a summer trip to Zion a couple of years ago I found this album of Zion photos taken in April:

Great shots, I thought, and perhaps of interest given the timing of your trip.

I'd vote for Zion as well, one of my favorite places.
Nelson is online now  
Dec 14th, 2011, 11:45 AM
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I've been to GC in mid-February and early April so kind of around your same time frame. No issues with the trails being icy. However, I don't remember much (if any) snow in April and the February trip was an unusual year with little snow up to that point. There was finally a decent snowstorm the night I was there and the canyon was beautiful with the new snow, trail was fine just wet/muddy for a ways then gradually dried up as you went down.

Having said that, 2.5 days at GC is too much unless you do a lot of hiking. If you go to GC, stay overnight and then go to Sedona for a day/night.

I think Bryce was major wow factor and is worthy of an overnight, Zion is my least favorite of the 3 parks you mentioned but it gives you the most options/variety of the 3 in terms of hikes and sights. So it would be easy enough to fill your time with the Zion/Bryce option.

3rd option is to go to Death Valley. If the winter conditions are good you could be going at a great time to see the spring wildflowers, peak is somewhere between mid-February to mid-April. You wouldn't have to worry about snowstorms and there are a lot of different hikes and things to see in 2.5 days. Plus it is the closest of the 3 options to Vegas so less time on the road and more time in the park.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 01:06 PM
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I was suprised at how much we enjoyed DV. That might be a great option. I can see how it would underwhelm you, but we really liked it.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 03:21 PM
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nygvic, you say you will arrive 3/21 stay two nights LV then leave morning of 3/24 for the parks. That doesn't add up to me. If you stay the night of the 21st and 22nd in LV (2 nights) then you'll be leaving the morning or 3/23 for the parks. Coming back the 26th will give you two full days and 2 half days for visiting.

Not sure it really matters though in deciding which place you should go. If you have that extra day just use it to spend a little more time whereever you go.

You do have three good choices. I haven't visited Death Valley yet, but when I do it will be in March or April. I've seen the Mojave deserts that time of year and it is the best time.

Every one is talking snow, but late March is not winter anymore. There may still be snow at all three parks Zion, Bryce and Grand canyon, but most likely the trails will be open if a little wet in places. There is always a chance for a late storm, but of course no way to know ahead of time.

I have been to Zion more often in March and April than any other time of the year. It is the best time to go imo, (though summer is better for the higher elevation hikes and the Narrows). There is never a bad time for Zion. One or two days would be a nice visit.

Bryce in March will be wet, but it is a must see kind of place. It is easy to see in a day or less.

You could also enjoy the whole time at the Grand Canyon. It is an amazing place. I would have no trouble spending a couple days there even if I never left the rim, sit and watch the light change on the canyon walls, listen for birds, watch the condors, look for fossils. Explore the different viewpoints, head out to Cameron for the huge trading post there, stop at Desert View and Tusayan, take the shuttle to hermits rest. The Grand Canyon is a place to slow down and unwind.

So I can't help with which one you should do. You can't lose, they are all good choices. My husband would say flip a coin.
InSandy is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 02:36 AM
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As much as I enjoyed seeing the Grand Ganyon I didn't connect with it the way I did Zion. The GC certainly is an amazing sight to see, however, so I agree you can't go wrong either way. We had a day trip planned to see Bryce but once in Zion did not want to leave. We were there five nights this fall and I'm ready to go back. Whatever you decide, enjoy a great trip!
AnnMarie_C is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 08:48 AM
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Thanks to all for great input. Agree that there are really no bad choices here, just different ones. We will see what happens as we get closer to making final decision.
nygvic is offline  
Dec 18th, 2011, 08:36 AM
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At the risk of sounding like a [email protected], I hope when you refer to Grand Canyon, you're referring to the South Rim and not the North Rim. The North Rim is closed until mid-May.

It's not surprising to hear that many of the previous posters report "connecting" on a deeper level with Zion and Bryce than they do the Grand Canyon. People also say that about Lake Powell. The Grand Canyon does have a tendency to "fall flat" with some visitors; IMO it's because it's SO big it overwhelms the eye, especially in individuals who for whatever reason have issues with depth perception (or lack thereof). An acquaintance who visited me at the Grand Canyon (used to live there) who deals with a medical condition that prevents her from seeing 3-dimensionally reported having that impression (''s a hole in the ground...' type of thing). One way to get a better understanding of the canyon's depth and complexity is to fly over it ->:

If convenience/close proximity to Las Vegas will be a determining factor in where you end up going, Zion National Park is the "winner" of that contest. If you stay in Springdale UT (on the Western boundary of Zion), that puts you a little less than 3 hours' drive from Las Vegas plus you have a good variety of hotels to choose from If you can get lodging inside the park, that's even better, a little further to travel, but not much. The in-park shuttle system won't start up until April 1st, so you could still drive your own car into the canyon.

Bryce is a couple of hours further (roughly 4.5 hours from LAS). Grand Canyon South Rim is also 4.5 hours from LAS, a little longer if you factor a stop in at Hoover Dam. With 2 days to work with, I would choose one destination and make the most of it.

Whatever you decide, make your lodging reservations ASAP. Your timeframe falls within the Spring Break period, so in-park lodging will sell out. Make a choice and run with it.
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