Zion to Bryce Canyon: Where to Stay, Must-Visit Stops, and More

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If you’re planning a trip to southern Utah, then you’ll most likely be traveling from Zion to Bryce Canyon, as these national parks are the reason that most people visit this part of the state!

This post will cover everything there is to know about traveling between the two national parks, including where to stay, what to pack, where to stop, and even the best time of year to visit. In the end, there’s a great suggested 3-day Zion and Bryce Canyon itinerary, too!

Keep reading to learn all about how to plan your trip from Zion to Bryce Canyon.

Why You Should Visit Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks

rocky landscape with green trees scattered throughout

You may be wondering, why should I even be traveling from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon? Are these even places worth visiting?

The short answer: abso-freaking-lutely. These are two of the state’s most well-known parks, and for good reasons.

Zion National Park will make you feel like you’re in another world. From the giant canyon walls to the beautiful river that runs through it, you’ll fall in love with its beauty. It’s one of the easiest ways to see a Utah slot canyon, too!

Plus, there are some famous hikes in Zion, including the Narrows and Angel’s Landing. Angel’s Landing is not for the faint of heart; it’s often voted as one of the most dangerous hikes in the USA.

Because of its popularity, Zion National Park is often crowded with people, no matter the time of year. To get around the park, you usually have to take the park’s shuttle and hope that you’re able to find parking at the visitor center where the shuttle picks you up.

Bryce Canyon, on the other hand, is not nearly as visited as Zion but is still very popular. The park is known for its hoodoos, epic hikes, and beauty that it has in the winter months.

Truth be told, Bryce Canyon is my favorite national park I’ve been to; it’s one of those places that you don’t hear much about compared to other parks, yet once you’re there, you’re completely in awe that it was all made by nature.

Plus, the park’s bright orange hoodoos compared to the green trees that surround it provide such a beautiful scenic view. The juxtaposition is perfect camera fuel; seriously, you won’t be able to put your camera away!

How to Travel from Zion to Bryce Canyon

rocky cliff with trees lining the top

There are many ways to travel from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park, but the most popular and scenic route is by car. The drive takes about two and a half hours and passes through some of the most stunning scenery in southern Utah.

The first part of the drive takes you through Zion National Park, where you can see towering red cliffs, unique rock formations, and cascading waterfalls. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and explore along the way.

As you leave Zion National Park and enter Bryce Canyon National Park, the landscape changes dramatically. The red cliffs give way to hoodoos, which are tall, thin spires of rock that have been formed by years of erosion.

The distance from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon is about 1.5 hours, and because it’s so scenic, that time flies by.

To get to Bryce Canyon from Zion, you’ll want to go northeast on UT-9 E and then turn left to US 89 N/State St. Follow that and eventually turn right onto UT-12 E, and at the roundabout, take the first exit to UT-63 S.

Where to Stay Between Zion and Bryce Canyon

orange rock formations in a canyon at sunset

If you want to stay between Zion and Bryce, you’re in luck. Panguitch is a historic town located about halfway between Zion and Bryce Canyon. It’s a great place to stay if you want to explore both parks without staying directly near just one of them.

While this town is quaint, there are quite a few places to stay there, including Days Inn by Wyndham Panguitch, The Panguitch House, and Panguitch Countryside Cabins. Many Airbnbs can also be found between Zion and Bryce.

Tips for Visiting Bryce Canyon and Zion

view of rocky cliff from the bottom of a canyon

The best tips for visiting these national parks are to arrive early, stay on designated trails, and be prepared for all weather conditions.

Arriving early will help you avoid the crowds and give you more time to enjoy the scenery. Zion gets a lot busier than Bryce, but it still gets super overcrowded in the summer as the day goes on. Seriously, try to get to these parks at sunrise! (The only time I’ll wake up early is to see the sunrise and beat the crowds at national parks.)

Staying on designated trails will keep you safe and protect the environment. While you’re hiking, you’ll most likely see a lot of human-made trails, which is unfortunate. You may even see other people trying to make their own trail. Just stay on the path and follow the cairns.

You’ll want to be prepared for all weather conditions by packing appropriate clothing and supplies. Bring water, snacks, and safety gear. Pack this all in a backpack to be safe!

It’s also smart to check the park’s website for updates and alerts before you go. This will help you be aware of any closures, construction, or other changes that might impact your visit! Another trick to this is to stop by the visitor’s center; any updates can normally be found there.

Follow all posted rules and regulations, and use common sense when exploring the park. If you’re hiking or camping, be aware of your surroundings, and be sure to let someone know where you’re going!

Best Time of Year to Visit

hiking path wrapping around a large orange rock

Many people think that summer is the best time to visit national parks in Utah. I’m here to tell you that’s false! I’ve been to both Zion and Bryce in the fall and the summer, and the fall is far superior.

Fall is an ideal time to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks. The weather is cool and comfortable, the crowds are thinner than usual, and the scenery is simply stunning as the leaves change color.

If you’re looking for a truly memorable experience, plan your trip for mid-October when the colors are at their peak! This is when we went.

Of course, there’s no bad time to visit these amazing places. Just keep in mind the summer days are busiest because everyone is on summer vacation at the same time.

Spring offers its own unique charms, from wildflowers in bloom to longer days for hiking and exploring. Whichever season you choose, you’re sure to have an incredible time.

3 Day Zion to Bryce Canyon Itinerary

Here’s a recommended three day itinerary if you want to visit both of these parks! From the towering red cliffs of Zion National Park to the otherworldly hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, you’ll be left awestruck at every turn.

Day 1: Arrive in Bryce Canyon National Park

After arriving in southern Utah, head to your hotel or campsite to check in and get settled. Then, it’s time to explore!

Start your trip in Bryce because then, no matter what time of day you get there, you’ll be able to head into the park. It can be hard to get parking in Zion as the day goes on!

Because you probably drove most of the day, head to Sunset Point and watch the sunset over the canyon. This is a breathtaking spot, and there are also some benches in the area where you can sit and relax. You may want to bring a blanket!

Once you catch the sunset, head into town to grab some dinner. Bryce Canyon has lots of great restaurants, but i.d.k. bbq is one of our faves!

Day 2: Explore both parks

wide hiking path looking towards orange hoodoos

Wake up early for a sunrise hike to one of Bryce Canyon’s most iconic viewpoints, Sunrise Point. From here, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the hoodoos – strange rock formations that dot the landscape.

Stop and grab some breakfast along the way. After breakfast, it’s time to explore more of Bryce Canyon. Be sure to hike the Navajo Loop Trail, a short but sweet trail that takes you past some of the park’s most interesting hoodoos. It’s a popular trail, so the earlier you hike it, the better.

If you have extra time or want more of a challenge, consider adding on the Peekaboo Loop Trail. We did this and loved it! It was way less busy.

After exploring Bryce in the morning, hop into your car and make the drive to Zion. Consider grabbing some food along the way if you didn’t pack any food to bring with you. Once you get to Zion, you may have to park outside the park and take a shuttle into the park.

Start by visiting Zion’s Visitor Center, where you can learn more about the park. Because you’re visiting later in the day, consider either riding the Zion shuttle to see more of the park and get introduced to it, or hike one of the easy trails in the park, so there’s nothing too difficult.

Day 3: Have fun in Zion

Wake up bright and early and head right over to Zion. Start with a visit to one of Zion’s most popular attractions, Angels Landing. This strenuous hike will take you up steep switchbacks to a vantage point that provides incredible views of the park.

Though it’s a difficult hike, it’s famous for a reason. If you don’t like heights, steer clear of this hike, as it’s not for the faint of heart. Depending on the time you go, you may need to get a permit for the hike.

If you’re looking for something a bit less challenging, try hiking the Emerald Pools Trail. This easy trail leads you to a series of waterfalls and pools surrounded by lush vegetation!

Another option (if you want a famous hike without the heights) is to take on the Narrows. This slot canyon is one of Zion’s most popular trails, and for good reason. Walking through the narrow walls of rock, with the river flowing beside you, is an unforgettable experience!

After the last hike on your final day, it’s time to hit the road and head home. But before you go, be sure to take one last look at the incredible scenery – you’ll be sure to want to come back for more.

This post was all about how to get from Zion to Bryce Canyon and spend three days in the area. Don’t forget to save this post for later!

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