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Help to choose: Bryce or Zion?

Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 02:16 PM
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Help to choose: Bryce or Zion?

Hallo,
I will have a shortage of time while travelling in Utah and my schedule includes only 2 nights in the area of Bryce and Zion NPs. So, I have to make a choice. I will drive from Moab so, as far as I see Bryce is shorter to reach however, I would be able to spend 2 hours more to get to Zion.
So, what would you advise to choose from: Bryce OR Zion?
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 02:41 PM
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Forced to choose, I would pick Zion.

For a great scenic experience, drive from Moab to Zion on UT-24 and 12, perhaps taking a peek at Bryce Canyon on your way.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 03:48 PM
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Depends on what you want to do. How many days are you in Moab? because there is a lot to do there and nearby. You could easily include Goblin Valley, Canyonlands, and Deadhorse Point there. Maybe even a day in Capitol Reef and some of Escalante.

Zion is a very pretty park. If you are adventurous, two of the top hikes are there. Angels Landing and The Narrows. There are several other good trails that aren't as wild or strenuous.

Bryce is one of the few places that I haven't been to in Utah, but plan on going this next year. The hiking there sounds really good and the hoodoos would be amazing.

Don't really think you can go wrong with either place or staying put in Moab and doing more there.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 04:38 PM
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I would choose Bryce. It is so different from all the other canyons. Truly amazing!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 04:44 PM
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The two parks are really different and both amazing. I can't imagine having to choose, and I don't think you have to. You'll spend a full day driving from Moab to Bryce seeing some incredible scenery along the way. I hope you're planning to take Rte 24 to Rte 12.

If you spend your first night in Bryce, depending on the time of year you should have time to check out some overlooks/walk along the rim and even take a sunrise hike the next day. Then drive the gorgeous east entrance into Zion and spend the rest of that day seeing Zion. Normally I wouldn't recommend so little time in each place, but Bryce and Zion are so different and such a short distance apart (only 86 miles) that it really is worth seeing both. If you're like the rest of us, you'll be going back to Utah again on future trips. It's so addictive...
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 05:13 PM
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I ve been to both. IMO, I liked Zion better, however, it would be hard not to see both. Zion is big and grandiose, while Bryce Canyon is small and very unusual. Narrows and Angels Landing were my two favorite hikes at Zion. But, I also took the mule trip down into Bryce Canyon and that was an incredible experience. Depends what your looking for. If you have to decide between them, do some research on the parks and look at pictures and get a feel, then make your decision. But, I would be hard pressed not to see both of them. I would also say if you only have a night or so, then just do Bryce Canyon. Its smaller and you can get more out of it in a day than Zion. Zion in a day would be a waste of a trip to go there. You need at least two days or more. And Capitol Reef is absolutely amazing, no crowds, you have the whole place to yourself. Canyonlands and Arches NP out be Moab are awesome too.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 05:23 PM
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Been to both. Zion was one of the most beautiful places we've seen. A late afternoon hike with the walls of the canyon bathed in soothing orange tones.....wow!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 06:01 PM
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Bryce has more immediate wow factor than Zion for a short trip. Zion takes a bit more time to dig into and appreciate IMO.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2010, 06:23 PM
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Others have captured it well. If you have 2 nights, or anything close to that, I'd choose Zion. It's bigger and more varied, and therefore more interesting if you have more than a few hours to explore it. It is spectacularly beautiful.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 12:13 AM
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Thank you for the replies. I will drive from the very East of the country (Washington DC) with an intention to have a trip over Colorado and Utah. My schedule is rather tight and at the same time, of course, I would like to see as much as possible, however I realize that each of the places is worth staying there a week as minimum. But I have what I have and my previous experience of travelling along the USA and Canada the latest 2 years proves it rational (I don't live in America and I come from far away). Within my days in Colorado and Utah I can redistribute my time to some extent between various places of interest and I would hope to do it according to your advice.
So, my itinerary on the West will include:
Manitou Springs, CO - 2 nights
Montrose, CO - 1 night
Moab - 2 nights
Bryce - 2 nights (1 night?)
Zion - 1 night (2 nights?)
Monument Valley - 2 nights (1 night?)
Mesa Verde - 2 nights (1 night?)
Santa Fe - 1 night, then driving back to the East
Will be glad to see your comments and recommendations. Thanks in advance
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 01:35 AM
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If you plan on seeing Bryce and Zion, you will need more time in Zion. You should see Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef Fruit Trees and hwy 12 on your way to Bryce. I think 1 night in Monument Valley would be plenty. What time of year are you doing this? What is in Montrose and Manitou Springs that interests you?
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 02:18 AM
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To spirobulldog:
Time: end July - August
In Manitou Springs I would look around to see the famous and picturesque Colorado mountains with ski resorts (with some idea to visit them some time later in winter), riding the Cog Railroad etc.
Montrose is supposed to be a stopover on the way to Moab.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 09:38 AM
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I've been to both Bryce and Zion.

While Zion is beautiful Bryce is far different than anything else. If you look back many years later, it's Bryce that you'll remember.

Having said that, this is what I would do.

If you get to Bryce late in the day (try to get in-park lodging) get up early the next morning to see the sunrise at Bryce Point. After that grab a snack breakfast and hike down Navajo Loop (starts at Sunset Point) and back up Queen's Garden (ends at Sunrise Point. The two points are only a half mile apart so you can walk on the rim back to Sunset Point to get your car.

Then I would visit one more viewpoint; Natural bridge. It's the only one that really different.

I would then leave for Zion and possibly go on the Canyon Overlook hike on the way into Zion's east entrance.

The Narrows (you're hiking in water) and Angel's Landing (way, way up) are for the adventuresome.

Emerald Pools and Riverside Walk are for the less adventuresome.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 11:41 AM
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One more question? Do you like to do serious hiking? There is a huge variety of hiking to be done in the Utah Parks, everything from requiring ropes to a short stroll. All are very rewarding. I have been to many National Parks, and I am sure that most of my top hikes have all been in Utah. I have yet to hike the Navajo Loop/Queens Garden in Bryce, but that is the "must do" hike there.

If you have to decide between Bryce and Zion, I might lean more towards Bryce, simply because it will be cooler around August 1, than anywhere else on your agenda. That said, a hike in The Narrows would be wonderful in Zion to cool down. You will want to be out early and late and maybe take naps mid-day, or do something not to strenuous in the heat. Take water everywhere you go!!!
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 01:16 PM
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As everyone says, it is a tough call. Zion and Bryce are both WONDERFUL! We go to both parks frequently from Northern California, and Zion is the one where we spend most of our time. However, you should definitely go to Bryce as it is in line with the rest of your trip, and it is so unique! I recommend at least 1 walk down into the canyon (which isn't as hard as it sounds). It can be pretty hot in the summer, so take your walks in the early evening and in the early morning. One night might be enough if you explore Bryce this way and make full use of your time there. Then drive to Zion the following night. I'd spend a minimum of 2 nights in Zion, 3 would be better.
Santa Fe is quite a distance - perhaps you could save that for another trip?
If you can rework your schedule a little, you may enjoy your explorations more with 2 nights at Bryce and 3 (or 4) in Zion.
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 02:55 PM
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While 2 or more days would be a good amount of time to spend in Zion and one day is a good amount of time for Bryce Canyon, with two days you could potentially spend one day each in Bryce and Zion. They're close by each other, which would make such a day division easy to manage.

You could always decide to return on a later trip to Zion for more exploring if you want, and given that the park's not all that far from Las Vegas, it could easily be included as part of the trip to that city.
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Old Feb 5th, 2010, 05:06 AM
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Ok, thank you all for the replies.
It seems I determine myself to spend 2 nights in each park (with 1 full day in each one plus one day to move from one to the other, so it makes three full days totally being there). Then I will have an overnight at the Monument Valley and then move to Mesa Verde (Cortez).
I understand that my following question has no relation to Utah but it relates to my itinerary: do you think Mesa Verde is worth staying there a full day (with 2 night lodging) or it would be better to spend one day more in Zion or Bryce or Arches?
To elnap29: as to Santa Fe I consider it just as an overnight stop on my return driving to Washington, DC.
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Old Feb 5th, 2010, 08:16 AM
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Now your talking. Mesa Verde is definately worth a full day, you won't be able to see it all in 1 day, but will get a lot of it in. See as many of the ruins(houses) as possible, most are done with a ranger, but there is one or two that is self-guided. Maybe you could give us a little more about your itnerary and what you plan to do in each place. It is a little hard knowing how long to tell you to stay at one place until we know your interests? Hiking is the thing to do at most of your spots and there is a lot that could be seen from point to point. I think a full day @ Bryce and part of a day at Monument Valley with what I think you are doing. Zion, Moab need more than a day. Mesa Verde a day is enough to get a good taste of it. Of course, any of these spots could easily take several days.

Since your original statement says you have a shortage of time, it might be better to just stay in 1 or 2 places and really experience them. I will rank them in the order that I like them. How many days in Moab do you plan to spend? Do you plan to see anything between Moab and Bryce? What are your main interest? are you adventurous?

You have some excellent places to visit, just need to figure out how to best use your time to get the maximum benefits. I think this sounds like an awesome trip.
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Old Feb 5th, 2010, 09:25 AM
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It will not take a day to go between Bryce and Zion. They're less than 2 hours apart.

It's all in the timing.

Bryce has several hikes but most are sort of similar (mostly).

The Zion hikes are mostly different. Hence a longer amount of time.
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Old Feb 5th, 2010, 10:26 AM
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Thank you, spirobulldog, for your kind interest.
I am planning my third trip to the USA for the next summer having experience of two previous successful journeys of the same kind. I live in Russia and I love the US and try to spend my 3- or 4-week vacation to see as much as possible there. I travel with my wife and daughter of 11.
My itinerary is as follows:
Our starting point is Rockville, MD where our friends live. We leave them on July 24.
We drive to Colorado via St. Louis and Kansas City and arrive at Manitou Springs on July 27 in the evening. I chose Manitou because it is not a big city and is situated in the mountains. Besides, we would wish to take a trip on the Pikes Peakes Cog Railroad and look around at the local attractions. So I count for 2 nights there.
Then we drive to Moab with an overnight stop around Montrose.
At the Arches park I count for 2 nights with 1 full day.
Then going to Bryce + Zion (2 nights in each with totally 3 days in this area)
Then driving to Mesa Verde with an overnight at the Monument Valley.
At Mesa Verde I plan to stay 2 nights (1 full day) and then start back to the East.
I see our way back by a road different from that we used from Rockville to Colorado: Santa Fe, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville (or Asheville or something around). Our target is a beach on the Atlantic shore where we would stay for two full days before going to our "base" in Rockville. I am not determined as to Nashville: whether it is worth staying for a night or we will not take a sin if missing it (adding one day for Utah or an Atlantic beach).

I am not a serious hiker however, I like and able to walk long distances and for long time (so is my family). I am not an "extremal" fan. I had some experience in white water cayaking but now I am not into it. Also, a kid with us should be taken into account as well as hot weather in August.

Our interest is to see unique natural places, get impressions and to feel their "spirit" making them a part of our souls. Also, my hobby is making films and I hope to take nice video foorings for that as well as photo shooting. The latest 2 years we were at Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, Niagara Falls and other wonderful places in the USA and Canada.

Now you know the situation and I would be thankful for any advice.
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