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jbjayhawk Jan 20th, 2008 08:03 AM

Please Help With Zion NP & Bryce Trip May 2008
Hello! The wife & I have booked air to Las Vegas Wed. May 21st-Mon. May 26th with plans on visiting Zion National Park & possibly Bryce & the Grand Staircase. We have a hotel room booked at the Desert Pearl from Wed. night- Sunday. We fly home around 10am Monday morning so that means we plan to stay in Vegas Sunday night. We are looking for suggestions on how to structure our days & hikes. Any thoughts are appreciated.

Here are some details to help generate ideas: We arrive Wed. around 12:40 Pacific time. I figure we'll be lucky to have our bags and rental car by 2pm (3pm in Utah). The drive into Springdale will probably get us in too late to do any hiking? Is Springdale like Estes Park with a downtown of shops, galleries , rest.? Maybe we would get in & be able to see a really pretty sunset somewhere in the park that night?

What do we want to see? We'd really like to hike the Narrows but realize it's probably a 50/50 chance we can do that depending on the spring runoff / weather etc. The Zion Adventure Company website says May & June are two of the best months to hike the Narrows so maybe we'll luck out? We might even be able to find a ranger led hike in the Narrows? We want to try the Angels Landing hike but don't know that we'll hike the final section. We aren't afraid of heights but the pictures we've seen look pretty intense so we'll just have to see how we feel when we get to Scouts Lookout. We do know that we want to start that hike early (by 8am) to avoid some of the traffic on the trail. We'd also like to see the emerald pools, riverside walk, canyon overlook trail etc. We'll have all Thursday- Sunday so I think we'll have time to see what we want to see. From doing a little research it seems like most people spend a day or two at Zion then move on. If time permits we could go to Bryce or Escalante. I work in sales & drive a good bit of my territory so driving a couple hours to another park & even back in the same day won't bother me. Oh, we are in are upper 20s & young 30s and fairly active. Our hiking style is more of a nice morning moderate /strenous hike for 2,3,4 hours roundtrip then lunch & a nice afternoon hike or two that is a little more laid back. We are also into photography so recommendations on good photo spots are appreciated.

I guess I've given a lot of info. here. We can restructure our trip if needed as I was thinking maybe we want to spend Wed. night in Bryce / Thursday at Bryce then Friday -Sunday at Zion. Technically, we have a full day on Sunday before heading to Vegas. We don't need to get to Vegas at any particular time. Looking forward to your thoughts & the help. Thanks!

Myer Jan 20th, 2008 08:50 AM

I was there last June.

If you have 2 full days in Zion and 1 full day in bryce you should be fine.

They're about 90 minutes apart and very different. Bryce is 4,000 feet higher. Cooler and the air is thinner for hiking.

You want to be in Bryce for the sunrise at Bryce Point. So sleeping over in park is a big advantage. Getting reservations is another issue. You have to call Xanterra daily for cancellations.

I'm a lot older so don't do anything hard.

In Bryce I hiked Navajo Loop down and Queens Garden back up. I was there 2 days so the 2nd I did the same thing only added 3.5 mile of Peek-a-Boo in the middle. very nice.

In Zion you could do narrows. I stopped at the end of the Riverside Walk and didn't do the narrows as I wasn't prepared to walk in water.

Also, I felt Angel's Landing was way more than I was prepared to do.

I'm returning this spring to the eastern side for Moab and Escalante.

anna_roz Jan 20th, 2008 09:02 AM

Just a few comments, really..

Desert Pearl Inn is a fabulous place to stay. If your room is facing the creek, so much better and you can have a glass of wine/cup of tea on your balcony while admiring the red rocks, looking for wildlife, running creek, etc. Awesome!

In Springdale, I recommend Spotted Dog Saloon for dinner. Great food and gracious service. We did not care for Bit & Spur, but apparently other people do.

About the Narrows, we were there over the Memorial Day weekend and the water was too high/too fast to even enter. We were told that September would be better on account of less water flow.

Anna Roz

TheWeasel Jan 20th, 2008 09:12 AM

Las Vegas to Springdale is 2.5-3 hours, so you should get there by 6pm. The sunset in late May is around 8:40 (sunrise around 6:15), so you would have a little bit of time to see something but not much.

Remember that the road running into the main canyon of Zion is at the bottom of the canyon, so anywhere you go in that area will not have much (if any) sunlight after 6 pm. You will not be able to see the sunset from the main canyon either. Perhaps if you drove to the east side and did the Canyon Overlook trail you'd have a decent sunset view - but take some flashlights as you'd have to hike back in the dark then.

Zion is somewhat like Estes in that it's right up next to the park, but it's more spread out along the river. I didn't get the sense that there was any defined downtown area, although it does seem to be more heavily tourist oriented the closer you get to the park. The town shuttle system is much better than in Estes Park.

8 am for Angels Landing will avoid some of the traffic, but the earlier the better.

jbjayhawk Jan 20th, 2008 11:44 AM

Thanks for the help! Myer, I read your report while doing some research and even went to your website to look at your photos. Very nice! We understand theres a good chance we won't be able to hike into the Narrows. Even if the water is up and fast can you still hike into the entrance like Myer did? There's an article we kept from our paper last fall with a picture of people entering the Narrows thru the Virgin Narrows Canyon. Looks cool even if you don't hike in. Your thoughts and info. have been great! Any experienced hikers to the area we could still use some thoughts on how to structure our hikes.

Anna- we did reserve a room facing the creek. Sounds nice.

texastourists Jan 20th, 2008 12:10 PM

This is truly a beautiful place. Several pieces of advice: Zion is a much further drive than you think from Vegas. Give yourself plenty of time driving through mountains once you are off of the freeway - you don't want to be there after dark. Bring lots of water with you and snacks. Dress in layers!

Friends of our went with their teenage kids this summer - went hiking (on trail) and they were caught in a flash flood twice in one day down in the canyons at Zion. They found them selves having to climb up the side of the mountain (straight up) to escape the flash floods. At the beginning of the day - no clouds in the sky - it all happened very fast!!! Always be alert and you will have a great time!

ElendilPickle Jan 20th, 2008 01:51 PM

If you can't get a reservation at Bryce Canyon Lodge in the park, there are a couple of motels about a mile south of the park entrance. We stayed at Bryce View Lodge in October, which suited our purposes quite nicely.

Lee Ann

sharondi Jan 20th, 2008 02:48 PM

As others have suggested, 2 nights at Zion and 1 at Bryce would be good. Hiking in Bryce is really great - it gets you down among the hoodoo's. Highly scenic. We really enjoyed the Fairyland Loop this past Sept although the Navajo Loop and Queens Garden are equally amazing. You really can't go wrong!

Springdale is a great little town with shops, inns, etc all along one main road which leads to the park entrance. You should have an hour or two when you get to Springdale to take a drive through Zion.

It takes us about 3 hrs from LV to Springdale with a stop for some ice/bevs for the cooler. You'll love the Desert Pearl. Plenty of decent dining options - we enjoy Oscar's. The Mean Bean is the place for good coffee and it opens early.

Tons of pics of our fall trip at:

Have fun!

Photodog Jan 20th, 2008 04:25 PM

Couple of suggestions. First in Zion don't forget you will have to ride the free shuttle bus if you are going into Zion Canyon. Allow about a hour to get to Temple of Sinawava (start of the Riverwalk which ends at the river and start of the Narrows "trail"). You will need to carry everything you need for the hike with you on the bus. The best light at Wall Street which is about 4 miles upstream from the end of the Riverwalk is from 2-4pm. The walls reach nearly 2000' high so plan on using a tripod or high speed ISO. I found having both hands free to use a walking staff (comes with package from Zion Adventure) was a great benefit. Carried camera & lens as well as coat (went in early Nov) in a 4 gal size ziplock bag in case I ended up in the water.
The Kolob section of the park is spectacular in late afternoon as the setting sun hits the sandstone walls making them a deep crimson color. Don't go too late or the surrounding peaks will cast deep shadows on the lower portions.
Sunrise and sunset are the best times for photos at Bryce. Don't forget you are at considerable altitude so take your time and drink lots of liquids.
A beautiful place to photograph the sunrise is directly behind the Zion museum.
If you want an excellent but strenuous hike without the exposure you get on the last half mile of Angels Landing is to take the trail to Observation Peak. Leaves from Weeping Rock bus stop. If you go the distance you will be looking down on Angels Landing.
Each park will cost you $25 to enter. If you plan on visiting any other park, memorial, wildlife refuge or national forest site which charges admission fee, you might want to consider the America the Beautiful pass for $80 a calendar year. Good at all the above for everyone in the car.

Myer Jan 21st, 2008 06:32 PM


There's a distinct difference between Riverside Walk and the narrows in Zion.

While the narrows starts after the Walk ends, the walk is basically a walk on a sanded over paved sidealk abover the river.

The Narrows is the river.

When you get to the end of the Riverside Walk, you go down a few stairs onto the riverbed and you're looking at the start of the Narrows.

I only walked on a few rocks at the start of the Narrows to take a few photos.

maria_so Jan 22nd, 2008 12:53 AM


I did the zion/bryce.escalante, etc. trip last April. We had originally planned to do our narrows hike at the begiining of the trip and planned to stay there 2 days but our first full day there (we arrived at night), the weather was bad and because of flash floods (it was also quite cold), we decided not to hike the narrows and did angel's landing instead. We had really wanted to do both these hikes so what we did is change our trip around so we were coming back through Zion at the end of the trip to do the narrows. (we went to moab/cap reef, bryce, escalante on that trip too). It was worth it. Full sunny day and although the water was cold, hiking the narrows was one of our highlightes! We used Zion adventures because you don't have to book ahead of time. I suspect you'll be just fine in May. I did a trip report so if you want to see details just click on my name and find the trip report to utah.

Angel's landing was also a really great hike so yes, get to scout lookout and decide then to continue or not. Even to scout lookout, the views are amazing and it's a fun hike going through refrigerator canyon and the wiggles.

Bryce is spectacular, as everyone has said, especially at sunrise and sunset. We arrived at Bryce around 3:30 (I believe) and did the same hike that Myers mentioned. We ended that hike with sunset views at the top. Absolutely gorgeous.

Another hike I would recommend is Calf Creek in Escalante (if you get that far).

Enjoy your trip. You'll have a blast!

emd Jan 22nd, 2008 05:35 AM

I second the recommendation to get over to the Kolob canyon section of Zion. It is a short drive, about 30 min. from the main section of the park, and it is much less visited. It's really lovely. The Taylor Creek hike there was the best hike we did anywhere at Zion.

OO Jan 22nd, 2008 06:11 AM

Everyone has covered this very well, leaving me little more to say than to wish you a wonderful journey. It may become one of your favorite getaways, as it has ours. Two trips to Zion/Bryce have not been enough...we'll be back. Our second trip we didn't do Bryce...too much still left to do in Zion, and other places to see as well.

We have done all the hikes you are considering except the Narrows (good reason to return). Some of us finished Angels Landing. My husband, son and I turned back, not because it was physically too difficult, it wasn't, but because we could not handle looking at the drop offs. Our DD and SIL finished, although she says she would never do it again, that it wasn't worth the degree of fear she felt. It was still a beautiful hike, and I have absolutely no regrets for not having done the last segment.

I wanted to suggest the Hidden Canyon hike if you find the Narrows impassable. That has been one of our favorites, one we've done twice we enjoyed it so much the first time. The last portion of the canyon requires a small amount of scrambling, but it's so very pretty back in there, with the light playing off little trees. We have quite a few pictures from this trail (scroll past the Paria pictures, Hidden Canyon was about the first of the Zion hikes that trip.)

Enjoy your trip....go back again and again! :) Our Thanksgiving hikes are on hold as our kids have gifted us with 3 grandchildren since the above hike 3 years ago, but we all look forward to going back, with all the children the next time.

Dayle Jan 22nd, 2008 09:37 AM

Hi J,

We are having a very good snow year, so that means runoff in the Virgin River (Narrows) may very well be too high for you to hike. You'll just have to see when you get there. Early summer and fall are more dependable times for hiking the Narrows.

I usually go down to Zion every year. A couple years ago the river was at flood stage with runoff at mid-May. Usual flow of cubic feet per second is something like 600, then it was at 2,200 c.f./s. Just one look would have had you heading in the opposite direction! It was a raging torrent of muddy water, nearly over the banks and sweeping entire trees and large boulders down with it. Gave you a very good sense of how nature carved the canyon in the first place!

Angel's Landing is my favorite hike in the park itself. There are others just outside the park that are even better. You need climbing experience and/or a guide to do them. Awesome and beautiful!

Have fun!

jossin Jan 23rd, 2008 10:45 AM

Try exploring CANYONLANDS NAtional Park.If you can get to Moab in Eastern Utah Dead Horse Point State Park is fantastic!

jbjayhawk Jan 25th, 2008 07:45 PM

Hi everyone! Thank you for your thoughts and feedback. We'll have to look into the Taylor creek trail & the Hidden Canyon hike. I've seen pictures of the Calf Creek area in Escalante & those peaked our interest. Thanks again!

emd Jan 26th, 2008 05:41 AM

IF you hike Taylor Creek, be sure to go all the way to the end! There are interesting things along the way, like two old deserted cabins, but there is an incredible place at the end.

jbjayhawk Jan 26th, 2008 09:37 AM


Your trip report is great! I've looked at everyone's links to pictures and they're all wonderful. Thanks for sharing! I'm sure I'll be back with more questions as I continue research.

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