Zion & Bryce NPs planning help needed

Apr 1st, 2010, 06:37 AM
  #1  
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Zion & Bryce NPs planning help needed

I'm looking for the following suggestions: day hikes, lodging, route, natural sites, attractions.

I have flights booked. Two adults and an 8 month old (wish us luck). We arrive in Vegas on Saturday 4/24 at 9:30 am. We must be back in Vegas for a conference late afternoon of Monday, 5/3. I have 4 nights in Zion lodge booked (29th-3rd). I'm not against shortening that stay by a day, but no shorter. I haven't booked at Bryce yet.

We definitely want to hit Zion and Bryce and do not care for Vegas, especially with baby. Should we include the grand canyon this trip? How would you fit it in?

TIA,

M
MMMG is offline  
Apr 1st, 2010, 08:29 AM
  #2  
 
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MMMG,
I just returned from a 10 day trip to Zion, Bryce, and other interesting spots in that area. In Zion, be sure to take the Angel's Landing hike, and visit all of the waystops that the shuttle makes along its route. Lots of hikes available in Zion, but I found that two days was enough there, especially since there's so much to see within a few hours drive. Bryce is incredibly beautiful, and I think the Queen's Garden Loop is one of the best moderate scenic hikes in the US. It only takes about 2 hours and you will be amazed by the scenery. With an 8 month old along, how many hikes can you take? How long are you willing to hike? My suggestion is that you spend only one day at Bryce to see the highlights. Keep in mind that Bryce is at 8-9000 feet altitude and can still be quite cold in late April. From there, you could easily reach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in a day, or you might consider visiting Page, AZ for an easy, flat water, half day raft trip through Glen Canyon, starting just below the dam and ending at Lee's Ferry, 15 miles downriver. The canyon walls are incredibly beautiful from river level. http://www.raftthecanyon.com/
Hopefully others will provide lots of other suggestions for a region with a multitude of scenic opportunities. Check out previous posts as well.
roundthebend is offline  
Apr 1st, 2010, 09:10 AM
  #3  
 
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MMMG,

How long you spend at each park depends on how much you want to hike and see. You could actually spend your planned 4 days at Zion and still not see everything. 2 days at Bryce would be better.

I believe there is still snow at Bryce, roundthebend doesn't say. If so, 1 day would be enough to see the views of the hoodoos with snow. What a treat! Southern UT has had a big snow year and we just had a HUGE storm yesterday and today. I had over a foot at my house at 6500 ft. in Park City. Several feet in the higher altitudes of the ski resorts which means the probably the same for Bryce.

I don't think any of the rafting outfitters would allow a baby. Even if they did, I wouldn't recommend it!

You could include the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. Northern rim will still be closed. Also look at including the Hwy 12 drive - Bryce to Escalante to Boulder, to Capitol Reef. One of the most beautiful drives in the world.

Have fun!
Dayle is offline  
Apr 1st, 2010, 09:59 AM
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We are frequent visitors to that area, and Zion is our favorite. We always spend 5 nights there so that we are able to hike all the trails, some of which we do more than once a trip. We go to Zion both April and summertime; this April we will go to Bryce as well but will be very disappointed if we can't hike. If you don't have snow on the trails, look into hiking the Fairyland loop at Bryce. North Rim GC won't be open. I don't think you have to do too much planning re. hiking at Zion. When you get there, just look at the free guide and make your choices. With a baby in a backpack you might want to skip Hidden Canyon and the very last segment of Angel's Landing. (There are steep dropoffs and you need to hold onto a chain). The hike as far as Scout's Lookout is always rewarding, though. We prefer to stay at Zion Lodge inside the park for quick and easy access to trails and also for peace and quiet. We eat a few meals at the Lodge but also arrange takeout from the Lodge restaurant as well as pick up takeout in Springdale - We LOVE to sit on our balcony/patio, enjoy a glass of wine, our takeout meal, and the VIEW! With a baby, staying inside the park might make it easier, as otherwise you have to take the shuttle into the park every day. However, if you want to have access to a pool or hot tub or television, you would be better off at a motel in Springdale.
The free shuttle (no cars are allowed inside the park) takes you from the Visitor Center in Springdale into the park and around to all the trailheads in the canyon. There are nice picnic grounds as well. Also, there is a lovely trail from the Visitor Center along the river into the canyon - great for walking or bicycling. Bike rentals are available in town. You could probably get a bike with a baby seat.
We usually head right from the car rental at the airport in LV toward Zion, but we stop in St. George for groceries and a cheap ice chest - picking up fresh fruit, carrots, cheese, snacks. There is also a really nice organic produce market on the righthand side of the highway as you enter Springdale. Also make sure you have plenty of reading material as there is no bookstore in Springdale and only a few Tony Hillerman books at the Lodge.
elnap29 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2010, 10:41 AM
  #5  
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Elnap thanks for the great food tips. We always prefer NP lodges and I have Zion already booked.

Pre-baby on our vacations we day hiked extensively and backpacked ocassionally. With baby we can't go as far. We've also never liked to rush our stay at any NP and definitely don't want to with baby.

I think driving to Capitol Reef might be further than we want to go. I don't know how long a drive that is.

Is it possible for Bryce to still have snow on trails at the end of April?

Roundthebend: do you have a trip report?

Thanks!
MMMG is offline  
Apr 1st, 2010, 10:56 AM
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MMMG,
There was snow in Bryce, and parts of the Queen's Garden Loop were quite slick, especially in the Wall Street area. Other trails further up the road were snowier. I assumed that by the end of the month the snow would be gone, but based on Dayle's comments, maybe not. Zion was fine, with just patches of snow at higher elevations. I must say that the snow adds a new dimension to the scenery!
roundthebend is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2010, 05:05 AM
  #7  
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bump
MMMG is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2010, 07:09 PM
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Have you hiked with baby on your back? I guess, my question is- is one of you in good enough shape to hike with a baby on your back? and how many hours do you plan to spend on each hike? Angels Landing is fantastic, and is doable with a baby on your back, but I wouldn't attempt it, but many people do. Just depends on you. It would be easier to hike "The Narrows, but perhaps a little more likely to fall and then you would fall in water. Those are the two "must do" hikes in Zion for most serious hikers. There is several other very nice short hikes-Emerald Trail, etc. Hwy 12 drive to Cap Reef, might actually be a great thing, especially with a baby.
spirobulldog is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 03:33 AM
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I wear my baby most of the time when we are out and about. She also weighs less than my loaded pack. I'm not concerned with her weight for this trip.

I would never attempt that last part of Angels Landing with baby and I'm pretty sure the Narrows in April is unwise with baby as well. I'm looking for day hikes in the three hour range, moderate elevation change is ok, extreme change not so much.

How long is the hwy 12 drive?

Thanks
MMMG is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 04:59 AM
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I replied to this thread yesterday but it is gone.

Since you have the baby, you aren't going to be doing a lot of hiking, rafting, horseback riding, etc. Both Zion and Bryce are small parks. You can see them in a day or two each.
Connie is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 05:01 AM
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The north rim is well worth your time IF it is open--it's closed in winter. I'd take some days off of Zion and spend them at GC, if possible.
Connie is offline  
Apr 4th, 2010, 05:50 PM
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MMMG,

The drive between Bryce and Torrey (the town nearest Capitol Reef) will take you all day if you stop for photos and maybe a short hike or two. You might enjoy stopping at Escalante and seeing the Devil's Garden area, a nice short visit and good picnic spot.

Also, you could easily do the Calf Creek Falls hike - 5 mi. RT, flat, but lots of sand. A good workout, but a huge reward at the falls. Also a very good picnic spot.

When you reach the little bend in the road known as the tiny town of Boulder, you can take a look at the Anazasi Museum and do a short detour on the paved portion of the Burr Trail. Double back to Boulder.

Up and over Boulder Mountain (over 10,000 ft.) into the Aspens with incredible views. There will probably still be snow up there, but as long as you check the weather with the Visitor's Center in Bryce and don't hit a spring snowstorm (which we are having right now in Park City - again) you will be fine. The snow on the roads melts fast this time of year.

Once over Boulder Mtn. it's not too far to Capitol Reef. There are some great hikes here if you take the time to explore: Cohab Canyon, The Golden Throne, Hickman Bridge all have beautiful scenery and aren't very hard. The Golden Throne would be the longest in length. There is also a very nice short boardwalk along the Fremont River to see petroglyphs on the rocks and under the Cottonwoods. The orchard area around the Gifford Farm house is lovely too. Always lots of deer in the orchards and one of the best picnic areas in any Natl Park hands down.

Southern UT has had a very big snow year, way over 100% of normal. That means definitely no hiking the Narrows until probably end of June. It's supposed to be 80 in St. George by this weekend, so the runoff will start. I've seen the Virgin River at flood stage and believe me, you don't want to be too close when entire trees and boulders are coming down in a muddy torrent! In the summer the water level is normally only about 600 ac. ft. per min. (or something like that) fine for wading/hiking. When I saw it at flood stage it was 2300 ac. ft./ min. Terrifying.

You could stay overnight in Torrey and head back to LV. It would be around a 3 - 4 hours drive straight through.

Hope this helps give you a more clear idea of Hwy 12. It's really one of the great scenic drives in the world. Don't miss it. You have time!
Dayle is offline  
Apr 6th, 2010, 12:57 PM
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Since we are headed to Bryce next week, we called the Visitor Center at Bryce and spoke to a ranger. The snowpack currently has a 2-foot base, so we think this will curtail our hiking plans and are reworking our itinerary. We've been to Bryce many times, so we would have been going only for the hiking. Just thought I'd share this info with you, as it may affect your plans as well.
elnap29 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2010, 08:22 AM
  #14  
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thank you
MMMG is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 07:27 AM
  #15  
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Our trip plan is just about finalized. I really enjoy planning our vacations. Forums such as these are a great resource when deciding just what to include in a visit to vast areas. Thank you Fodorites.

4/24 MIA-LAS, arrive 9:25 AM. pick up supplies and drive to South rim of Grand Canyon (not ideal, I know, but procrastinators take what they can get from Xanterra). Someone's cancelled vacation is my gain. Yippee!!

4/24 El Tovar
4/25 El Tovar
4/26 Courtyard, Page, AZ
4/27 The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
4/28 The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
4/29 Zion Lodge
4/30 Zion Lodge
5/1 Zion Lodge
5/2 Zion Lodge
5/3 ARIA, Vegas
5/4 ARIA, Vegas
5/5 ARIA, Vegas
5/6 LAS-MIA
MMMG is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 12:29 PM
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While in Page, you might try for a permit to "the wave".
spirobulldog is offline  
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