3 Days at Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks

Jul 10, 2018

Heading to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks? In this 3 day itinerary and guide we’re sharing how to combine both Zion and Bryce Canyon into one trip + tons of suggestions of things to do!

We are obsessed with National Parks and are trying to visit every single US National Park in our lifetime (at the time of this guide: 9 down, 51 to go!). We just took an epic trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon in Utah and had the best time hiking and admiring the gorgeous scenery (you can read more about our trip here!)

Combining Zion and Bryce Canyon worked out perfectly for us, as they are fairly close to each other and not too large that you cannot accomplish a lot in a short period of time. We spent ~1.5 days in both spots and were able to see and do so much!

Zion

Here’s our guide to 3 fun-filled days at Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, including tips for your trip, where to stay at both spots, and an itinerary. We hope this helps make your National Park trip planning easier!

Reminder: Leave No Trace

Before starting your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave the places you explore even better than you found them.

  1. Plan ahead and prepare: Know the regulations, prepare for different weather conditions, and pack the 10 essentials.
     
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Travel on designated trails and camp at designated sites at least 200 ft away from water sources.
     
  3. Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out. Carry ALL trash with you and dig a 6-8″ cat hole for human waste, 200 ft away from water.
     
  4. Leave what you find: Take only pictures, leave only footprints.
     
  5. Minimize campfire impacts: If fires are allowed, use established fire rings. Keep fires small and put out fires completely.
     
  6. Respect wildlife: Do not approach or feed wildlife, keep pets under control, and store your food properly.
     
  7. Be considerate of others: Yield to hikers going uphill and keep noises down.

Note: this blog contains affiliate links. Full disclosure– if you click on these links and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

Tips for visiting Zion and Bryce Canyon

Navigating two National Parks can be tricky if you’re not prepared! Here are some tips from our experience at both parks.

General Tips
When we visited Zion and Bryce Canyon we flew into Las Vegas, rented a car, and drove to the parks. If you do this, we recommend spending an afternoon in the Las Vegas area. Check out our Las Vegas Guide for ideas of things to do!

On the way to Zion from Vegas, grab tacos at La Cocina Mexican Street Food in St. George. We also recommend getting groceries for your trip here too!

Zion Tips

  • Parking at the Visitor Center fills up fast, so arrive early to secure a spot! If you can’t get a spot in the park, you can park in Springdale (paid) and take the free Springdale shuttle to the park entrance. We also used this shuttle to to grab food and coffee during the day.
  • During the summer months you have to take the park shuttle, as they restrict personal car access on the Zion Canyon Scenic DriveThe shuttle lines can get pretty long, so arrive early and be prepared to wait a bit.

Bryce Canyon Tips

  • Bryce also has a free shuttle, but we didn’t have any issues getting parking, so we recommend parking at the park.
  • Make sure to pack warmer clothes! It gets cold at Bryce Canyon due to the elevation. The farther down the canyon you go, the warmer it gets, so having lots of layers will help you stay comfortable.

Where to Stay at Zion

Zion

Glamping

  • One of the coolest places to stay at Zion is Under Canvas, which is a glamping campground with luxurious tents (some have bathrooms too!) and a chef on-site.
  • The Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort also has some glamping tents and wagons that are available to rent.

​Camping

  • Zion has two campgrounds on site, South Campground and Watchman Campground. These can fill up fast so make sure to reserve as early as allowed!
  • There is also camping available at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. We camped here and it was a great alternative to the park campgrounds (although a bit farther from the park)!

Resorts and Hotels

Vacation Homes/Airbnb
These spots are a bit more spacious and offer access to kitchens.

PS: If it is your first time staying at an Airbnb, click this link to get $40 off your first stay!

Where to stay at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Camping

  • Bryce Canyon has two campgrounds on site, Sunset Campground (closed in the winter) and North Campground (has one loop open year round).
  • Ruby’s Inn is a great spot for camping and even has some tipis you can camp in! We stayed in one of the tipis and it was super fun! It’s also a super quick drive to the park.

Resorts and Hotels

Airbnb

Where to stay between Zion and Bryce Canyon

Zion

If you’d rather stay in one spot the whole trip, convenient to both Zion and Bryce, here are a few spots to check out! All of these spots have access to kitchens.

Day 1: Zion National Park

Zion
  1. Watch the sunrise from the Canyon Overlook Trail. It’s only 1 mile round trip and a 163 ft elevation gain, making it easy to get to in the dark. 
     
  2. Have breakfast and coffee at Deep Creek Coffee Co. This spot has an amazing upstairs deck!
     
  3. Spend the morning and afternoon hiking at Zion (make sure to pack a picnic lunch!). Here are our top hike recommendations, a mix of easy and difficult trails and all with beautiful views of the park. You can find more trails on the official Zion map.
    1. Observation Point– 8 miles, 2,791 ft elevation gain. This hike is our must-do, as it is less crowded, less scary, and has higher views than Angel’s Landing.
    2. Angel’s Landing– 5.4 miles, 1,488 ft elevation gain. One of the most popular hikes in the park, but can get very crowded (there is sometimes an hour wait to get to the top). If you’re afraid of heights this hike may not be for you, as you walk along very narrow cliffside trails with chains to hold onto.
    3. Watchman Trail– 2.7 miles, 368 ft elevation gain. We really enjoyed this trail and the views from the top.
       
  4. Walk around the town of Springdale and have dinner at Oscar’s Cafe. While you’re in Springdale, make sure to swing by Zion Outfitter by the visitor center and pick up equipment for the Narrows hike tomorrow.
     
  5. Sunset walk on the Pa’rus Trail. This is an easy 3.5 mile round trip paved walk that goes along the river and has great views for sunset. Stop at the Canyon Junction bridge to see the sunset with the Watchman in the background.

Day 2: Zion + Bryce Canyon National Parks

  1. Watch the sunrise​ along the Pa’rus Trail. We recommend the area across from the Zion Human History Museum. You get great views of the Watchman, West Temple, and Altar of Sacrifice.
     
  2. Have breakfast and coffee at Cafe Soleil.
     
  3. Hike the Narrows– This is an incredible and unique hike through a river! Yup, that’s right, you hike IN the water—so cool! (literally and figuratively)
     
    We recommend going 3-4 miles in (6-8 miles round trip) to the famous Wall Street section. Make sure to pack a lunch to enjoy on the rocks during the hike!
     
    Note: Sometimes the Narrows closes due to flash floods. You can check the status here.
     
  4. Take the free Zion shuttle through the park to see some of the scenic viewpoints! We recommend stopping at the Court of the Patriarchs.
     
  5. Head to Bryce Canyon National Park, around a 2 hour drive from Springdale.
     
  6. There are not many places to eat near Bryce Canyon, so for ​dinner we recommend cooking over a campfire, but if that is not an option, check out Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant or Stone Hearth Grille (a fancier option).
     
  7. If you arrive to Bryce Canyon before sunset, watch the sunset at Sunset Point

Day 3: Bryce National Park

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  1. Catch the sunrise at Sunrise Point. It was magical!
     
  2. As mentioned before, Bryce Canyon does not have many options for food. For breakfast we recommend making your own food (if you have access to a campfire or stove) or going to Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant.
     
  3. Spend the rest of the morning and afternoon hiking around Bryce Canyon (make sure to pack a picnic lunch!) Here are our two top hike recommendations in the park:
    1. Navajo/Queens Garden Loop— 2.9 miles, 580 ft elevation gain. This hike gets you up close and personal with the hoodoos in the park.
    2. Fairyland Loop Trail— 8 miles, 2,309  ft elevation gain. This hike is pretty challenging, but way less crowded and you get great views of the park.
       
  4. Soak up the views from the Rainbow Point, Natural Bridge, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point overlooks (accessible by car–Inspiration Point and Bryce Point require a tiny walk from the parking lot).
     
  5. End your day by watching the sunset at Inspiration Point or Bryce Point.
     
  6. For dinner, either cook over a campfire or head to Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant or Stone Hearth Grille.

If you have extra time…

Food

Coffee

Activities

  • The Subway Trail–7.0 miles, 1,305 ft elevation gain (requires a permit)
  • Kolob Arch–13.7 miles, 1,650 ft elevation gain (was closed during our trip)
  • Babylon Arch Trail–2.9 miles, 452 ft elevation gain (located in Hurricane, UT)

Heading to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks?

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about us

Hi y’all! We’re Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple (+ pup!) living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! You can often find us driving all around the US and Canada, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos and ice cream (we’re a 5+ taco and 2+ scoop household), and enjoying nature.

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This website contains affiliate links from websites such as Amazon.com, Booking.com, and Rentalcars.com. If you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

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