For her college graduation trip, my daughter Arden and I spent a long weekend in Zion with a quick trip to Bryce Here is what you might see in a three day weekend.
For those of us who live in So Cal, Zion is over 400 miles and 6 hours away. I broke up the trip with a layover in Vegas, but I did drive all the way when I came home. It was pretty crowded in mid-May, but the bus driver said middle of the summer has 40 minute waits at the bus stops. We had to stand more than once on the bus, but never had to really wait.
We stayed in Springdale in a delightful Best Western and there are several good restaurants in town. There are very few parking spots anywhere in the park, so plan to use the bus service in Springdale and in the park. If you get there early for sunrise or late for sunset, there are parking spots near Canyon Junction bridge, which is the best sunset spot in the park and has access to the Pa’rus trail. See below.
There were a few of us on the bridge, but I have seen worse.
Arden and I did hike up to the narrows to the beginning of Wall Street. Plan for it to take as long as 2 hours just to get to the beginning of the narrows. I recommend renting the boots and walking sticks. It’s worth it.
We got up one morning at 5 AM to make the two hour drive to Bryce. We did not plan to hike. Our plan was to hit every lookout and then have breakfast and head back. Bryce Canyon faces nearly dead east and looks great with early morning light. After that I think it gets too washed out and in the afternoon is mostly in shade, so get there early.
There is also a bus service in Bryce, but we were able to drive to each look out without much traffic at 7 AM. By the time we left about 10 AM, it was a madhouse.
On the way back to Zion, don’t miss the one mile round trip hike out to Canyon Overlook. It IS crowded and there is almost nowhere to park, but if you are persistent, you will be rewarded with a stunning view.
About half a mile after the Checkerboard Mesa turn out, look for this little tree on the left side of the road. If you get to the tunnel and Canyon Overlook, you have gone too far.
On our last evening it rained without a sunset to speak of and I planned to sleep in the next morning (our last). I popped up at 5 AM and walked outside. It was still dark, but I could see stars. It was a bit windy, but not terrible. I decided to go out and leave Arden in bed.
I walked the Pa’ rus trail near the South Campground knowing that I could either photograph the Watchman or the Towers of the Virgin, depending on where the color might be. I was rewarded with some great color and ended our trip quite happy.
Not sure where all the photographers were that morning or anyone else who wanted to see the sunrise. This is the parking lot near the amphitheater in the South Campground. It is a bit of a secret, so it usually has open spots, but not this open.
We have several popular blog posts about Bryce and Zion.
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