Zion - Bryce National Park trip report

Old Jan 14th, 2023, 07:03 PM
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Zion - Bryce National Park trip report

Here's an account of my recent trip to Zion and Bryce national parks in December :
This was a 6 day solo trip, and I'm glad I spent all the 6 days in the two national parks. There was a winter storm in the middle of trip, and that made Zion really special. That said, I would definitely like to come back some day in the Spring or summer and see more of the parks. Thanks to all the forum members for their suggestions.
A few pictures which are the highlight of the trip:

Kolob Canyon

Bryce Canyon early in the morning

View from Observation Point

Zion right after the snowfall

Last edited by Moderator3; Jan 15th, 2023 at 01:22 PM. Reason: Remove link to blog
ashwinb is offline  
Old Jan 14th, 2023, 08:34 PM
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Hi -- great photos! Thanks for reporting back. I haven't been to either park in winter -- but one trip in October there was already a bit of snow at Bryce.

Just a note though. In general Fodors frowns on people posting "go here to see my report" with a link to a blog etc. They want us to post the 'meat' of the trip report here on the forums and not send us to other websites. Even if it is just a copt-paste of what you've published elsewhere. You may hear from the moderators so I just thought I'd give you a heads up.
janisj is online now  
Old Jan 14th, 2023, 09:50 PM
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Always enjoy your reports.

But these photos are just incredible.
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Old Jan 15th, 2023, 05:15 AM
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ashwinb - glad you enjoyed your trip. Lovely photos. We're in Bryce this very minute and woke to three more inches of snow this morning. The snow is so deep this year that only two miles of the road into Bryce have been plowed. It limited our winter hiking somewhat, but that's the chance one takes in winter!

We visited at the same time last year and all 18 miles of the park road were plowed and we had access to more winter hiking. Evidently that was an anomaly though.
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Old Jan 16th, 2023, 05:34 AM
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Beautiful pictures!

I've been to Bryce in early May and had snow, and the white dusting makes for a great contrast to the red sandstone.

No shame in not going all the way to the end at Angel's Landing. I've been to Scout's lookout numerous times and never made the final part. I am 50% confident I can overcome my nerves and get out there, and about 0.1% confident I'll be ok to get back.... The view you got from Obs. Point towers above AL anyway.

I'm glad you got to hike up the Narrows. Closer to spring when there is snowmelt the water level is often too high. I've done that hike in both a wetsuit, and a "so-called" dry suit. The latter is impermeable rubber suit that closes tight around the neck and keeps your body dry. That is, of course if you a) zip it all the way up, and b) don't dunk into the water above the neckline.... I can tell you that even in warmer months the water is close to freezing... I would not recommend doing that hike alone (again)....even though it's amazingly peaceful when you are the only person within miles...

Can't wait to get back there.
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Old Jan 16th, 2023, 08:59 AM
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Thanks janisj, let me add some text here for Fodoites, I wasn't sure if copy pasting is allowed.
Thanks Adelaidean!
Enjoy your trip Melnq8, but even just getting to the Sunrise and sunset points is worth it, right? I believe last year was a dry winter, this year has good rains and snow for the west.
Thanks J62, I did feel quite low when I wasn't able to get all the way to AL, and I could see so many groups go up comfortably, this is the time when I think I would have been better off traveling with a group, but the West Rim Trail made up for it. However, even Scott's lookout is a great hike by itself. I would definitely come back with my wife and our newborn kid sometime later in Spring, there's no way they would like the snow and cold. Same goes for Narrows, maybe I could do another later summer trip, to Zion braving the crowds, and go all the way up Narrows, I did maybe just a quarter of the Narrows. I did fall a couple of times and my hands froze, it turned out all ok, but that is something I would avoid.
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Old Jan 16th, 2023, 09:04 AM
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Here's the entire account, written in a bullet point based format. You can go up to my blog to look more pictures, but the content is all in the post, here: https://ashwinbahulkar.wordpress.com...yce-canyon-np/

I did a trip of Southern Utah in the winter of 2022. The trip and timing was fabulous. Traveling to these national parks in the winter was a conscious choice and it paid off well. Most of the 6 days were spent hiking around the park. The lack of crowds and beautiful landscape made exploring park a delight. I would definitely want to visit these parks again.
  • Day 0: Fly into Las Vegas late night, and drive to St. George and stay
  • Day 1: Drive to Bryce Canyon, stopping at Kolob Canyon on the way, Rim Trail in the afternoon
  • Day 2: Sunrise at the various points on the rim, followed by Peekaboo + Navajo loop, Moss Cave trail in the afternoon, drive to Zion Ponderosa Resort
  • Day 3: Observation Point, Canyon Overlook trail and the Zion Mt. Carmel Hwy, evening at Pa'rus Trail, stay in Springdale for the next 3 nights at Zion Park Motel
  • Day 4: Angels Landing + West Rim Trail
  • Day 5: Snowstorm, so got a very late start, Emerald Pools Trail, Canyon Overlook trail again
  • Day 6: Narrows, drive back to Las Vegas, stopping by at Kolob Canyon for sunset
Why Winter?
  • Fewer crowds, very few people up Angels Landing and Narrows
  • Great weather on most days, except when it snows, but after the snowstorm, is the time to be at either Zion or Bryce with all the snow perched up the red rocks. However, it's good to have some flexibility, there are road closures and hikes can get more difficult with the snow
  • Significantly cheaper prices for accommodation and rental cars
Bryce Canyon NP:
  • Visit all of the points at or after sunrise, my favorites are Bryce Point and Inspiration point
  • Navajo loop + Peekboo loop: both were stunning in the snow, early in the morning. If you had to just one, it would Navajo
  • Rim Trail: I walked from the Bryce point to the Inspiration point and back in the snow, a pretty good hike to do.
  • Rim drive: drive up to mile 18, a good drive with plenty of cool viewpoints, gives. nice idea of the landscape around Bryce, but you can skip if short on time
  • Moss Cave Trail: short hike to the moss cave, which had some cool icicles in the winter
  • Best to stay near the park, but nearby Panguitch has better eating options
Zion National Park:
  • Observation Point: I stayed at the Zion Ponderosa Resort and took the shuttle to the trailhead. While the hike itself is not as interesting as some other Zion hikes, the view is the best, no doubt. The resort was a good place to stay at. The hike itself is pretty easy, albeit muddy.
  • Canyon Overlook: easy peasy hike with little elevation, great views. I did it a couple times.
  • Angels Landing: Now I wish I would have completed the hike, I hiked half the way up from Scott's lookout, and decided to turn back with the chains. Maybe some other day I'll go up to the top. Even going to Scott's lookout is worth it. I believe I saw a Condor on the trail.
  • West Rim Trail: beautiful and unique views all the way up from Scott's lookout, I might have walked about a mile and half after Scott's lookout, till you see the checkerboard like features. I would definitely do this, if I don't have a permit for Angel's Landing.
  • Pa'rus trail: beautiful views all the way, starting from the Zion Human History Museum. Best done before sunset, or right after sunrise.
  • Narrows: one of the highlights of my trip, a lot of gushing water after a snowstorm, but simply breathtaking. The wet suit protects you from the water, but you need to careful and not fall in the water, like I did, and have a couple of extra gloves in case you do fall.
  • Emerald Pools: another favorite. The waterfalls were gushing right after the snowfall and the views looking up to the steep cliffs were breathtaking.
  • Zion - Mt. Carmel hwy: beautiful views all along, plenty of wildlife, even in the day.
  • Kolob Canyons: beautiful views, the Timber Overlook trail is pretty short and has great views over the red rock mountains of Zion.
  • Favorite viewpoints:
    • A few turnouts up the Zion Mt. Carmel Highway as you leave Springdale
    • Parking lot of Zion Human History Museum
    • No surprises here, Observation Point is the best
    • Canyon Overlook trail has a good viewpoint. Probably better in the mornings than in th evenings when the sun shines on your face.
    • Sandbench trail does have some good views, better in the evenings
    • The viewpoint up Courtyard of Patriarchs
  • Favorite restaurants
    • Oscar's cafe: good mexican and vegetarian burgers
    • Whiptail Grill: good mexican
    • Bit & Spur: excellent mexican and wine
    • Meme's cafe: good crepes
    • Deep Creek Coffee Co: good breakfasts, some to-go food
    • Farmstead bakery in St, George, excellent baked goods, especially their Croissants
All in all, it was a really good trip, so many other worldly views and good hiking. Would definitely like to return, perhaps in different seasons to see what they have to offer.
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Old Jan 16th, 2023, 10:30 AM
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Also, everyday I discover new places to visit in Utah, they all seem so beautiful. I knew only about the 5 national parks, but there just seems to be so much more. I simply cannot wait to make more trips. Many of trips henceforth are likely to be with family with our newborn as she grows, so the nature of and pace of my trips might change, with a little less focus on hiking, or doing more family friendly and easier hikes. Nevertheless, I'm sure Utah would always be wonderful.

Last edited by ashwinb; Jan 16th, 2023 at 10:36 AM.
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Old Jan 17th, 2023, 10:01 AM
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Thanks for reporting back and enjoy the little one. I agree, Utah has lots of beautiful places to see.
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Old Jan 17th, 2023, 10:25 AM
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Thanks for the report and I enjoyed the photos!
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