a VirtualTourist member from North America
I am planning on visiting Las Vegas for 6 days and spend 3 days exploring the above-mentioned attractions. I am not planning on any heavy duty hiking, but one-hour trail walks may be in the itinerary. Here is my plan:
Day 1 - Leave Las Vegas at 7:30 am. Reach Zion National Park by 10:00 am. Enjoy the park until about 2:00 pm. Leave to go to Bryce Canyons. Reach Bryce by 4:00 pm. Enjoy rest of the day at the Park.
Day 2 - 7:00 am visit the park. Stay there until about 10:00 am. The either leave to see Zion National Park (if our visit the day before left us unsatisfied) or go directly to South Rim, Grand Canyons. It is approximately 5 hours to South Rim from Bryce Canyons. So we reach there by about 4:00 pm (including lunch break). Enjoy the south rim. Stay overnight.
Day 3 - 7:00 am go back to park. Enjoy until about 2:00 pm. Leave to go to Las Vegas. Reach by 7:00 pm.
What I wonder is is this too ambitious? I know that each of these places deserve at least a week of our time to thoroughly enjoy them. Unfortunately due to time restrictions, I do not have the luxury. Based on my past visits to these parks (25 years ago), I though my time would be best spent at Bryce and Grand Canyons compared to Zion.
Any recommendations would be appreciated.
I agree, Bryce and the Grand Canyon are definitely the best to the three and make sure that you spend one sunrise at the Grand Canyon and one sunset at Bryce Canyon and I can assure you , you will not be disappointed.
Hmmm, sort of a tough one as each park deserves at least a couple of days minimum! I personally loved Zion more than Bryce (although both are amazing) and the best way to really experience any of the 3 is by doing some exploring on foot.
You can take a round trip shuttle ride at Zion that takes about 90 minutes. The short/easy trails are:
Weeping Rock Trail: steep, paved 1/2 mile RT path to dripping, overhead springs
Riverside Walk: 2 miles RT along the Virgin River into a canyon. Recommended
Lower Emerald Pools Trail: 1.2 miles RT paved to a small waterfall. If feeling ambitious, add Middle Emerald Pools Trail (another mile one way) and Upper Emerald Pools (.3 mile from Middle). The last two are unpaved and a steeper climb but very pretty! Recommended
Court of the Patriarchs: short, steep 100 yard trail to great views of the Three Patriarchs
The Rim - there are approx. 11 miles of rim you can walk. It's not a loop trail so you'll be doubling back however long a distance you choose. If not wanting to go into the canyon, this trail is about what you're limited to. The paved .5 section of the rim between Sunrise and Sunset Points will also be the most crowded.
Queen's Garden: the least difficult trail down into the canyon. 1.8 miles. We combined this with Navajo Loop for 3 miles hike. Great way to get closer to the hoodoos and see the canyon from a different perspective!!
Bristlecone Loop: a 1 mile walk through the forest to some nice views.
So here's a thought: As you're much closer to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, from Zion and Bryce, than the South Rim, why not do that one instead if you'd really like to get 3 parks into your trip? The panoramas from there are terrific. Since you don't seem too interesting in hiking into the canyon, you'll be exploring mostly the rims in either place so why not choose the one closest to you? Also, the North Rim is much less congested than the south. We did the Zion/Bryce/North Rim trip from Vegas a number of years ago and had a really great time! The only consideration would be booking a place at the lodge as far in advance as possible as it's remote, far from the alternative lodgings and books up quickly. We drove from Vegas to Bryce, then down to Zion, then to the North Rim, and back to Vegas
I have been to all three parks. You need to factor time if there is a "traffic jam". I remember getting stuck crossing a tunnel in Zion. Also check the local weather forecast. If hiking down Grand Canyon trail at Southern Rim, remember the rule of thumb to double the time for walking up. We walked one hour down and two hours to get back up. Zion and Bryce can be enjoyed without hiking,just driving around if time is limited. We drove through the night from LA to Grand Canyon - the stars at 3am were incredible but were too sleepy to enjoy the sunrise. Sunsets are better.
Unless you will be arriving during the winter when the road to GC North Rim is closed, I also am not sure why you would drive all the way around to the South Rim. The views from the Cape Royal/ Point Imperial drives are everybit as good as those on the South Rim.
I personally am a Zions person- there really is no reason people prefer one to the other, but the upshot of that is that I would spend more of your first day at Zions, driving around sunset to Bryce (a two hour drive and you'll want to do it in the light, for the views of Zions and Red Canyons if for no other reason) but depending on the time of year that could give you a couple more hours.
Then spend the morning at Bryce and then head on down to the North Rim. You could visit the main Lodge area that first day and then drive out to Pt Imperial and Cape Royal the next before heading back to Vegas.
Overall yes, it will be a fast visit, but it can be done.
I have been to both North and South Rims. I prefer South Rim. You could first go to South Rim, then Las Vegas. Then Las Vegas - Zion - Bryce. Just a thought.
A word of warning. Try not to drive on 89A - this is an extremely dangerous mountain road that goes into the "back end" of Zion if you've left the Grand Canyon. I'm not referring to the "plain 89" that goes from some place in AZ towards Vegas - I'm talking abou 89A off the south end of Zion.
Nomad7890- that is a really vague warning that despite traveling that area often I'm not sure even I understand. I'd love to know what road you are talking about. All the paved roads that I know about are fine to drive.
There is always some confusion about the various 89's but I'm unaware of one that is a dangerous mountain road. And I can't find one on any of my various maps.
The only road I can think of that fits your description is the Smithsonian Butte Road. But it is known by its name and not a number.
jcjlkrebs, goodfish, slliiew, nomad7890
Thanks you so much for taking time to answer my questions. I am leaving tomorrow to go to Las Vegas and plan on leaving on Friday, August 28th for the 3 day adventure. Your replies would help me streamline these 3 days.
I really really appreciate you creating almost the itinerary for me to follow. I had definitely planned to visit weeping rock trail and emerald pool trail for our Zion visit. This may turn the visit from 4 to 6 hours or even more but will be worth it I am sure.
Also, I would like to get your thoughts on visiting North Rim. When I go to mapquest or google, the amount of time (not the distance) it takes to go to North and South Rim almost comes identical. May be north rim is less accessible and we have to drive slower to get there compared to south rim.
What has been your experience in terms of time taken to go to north rim from Zion?
Thanks for sharing your experience about visit to the parks.
I agree that Zions deserves more time. I think the difference between Zion and Bryce is that at Bryce you are able to drive to see most of the wonders but at Zion you need to take small trails to enjoy the wonderful flora and fauna.
I will keep an eye and heed to your warning.
Thank you all again and I am grateful for all your feedback.
You know, it's been a few years since we did that trip and I didn't remember that it took all that long from Zion to the North Rim (although we also putzed along a bit and made some stops). That said, I did some googling and came up with multiple references that list the North rim as 123 miles from Zion, and a 2.5 hour drive one way.
Here's the URLs that had this info, if that's helpful????
Oh, and there's a really nice little gas/convenieence station (spotless restrooms!), at Mt. Caramel Junction - if it's still there. You'd go through there from Zion on your way to the North Rim. FYI - there' no gas within the park so make sure you have a pretty full tank when you leave the Mt. Caramel/Kanab/Fredonia area.
Glad you're finding this forum helpful - do let us know if you have other questions????
Yikes! Just noticed that you're leaving TOMORROW. Unless you're very, very lucky, you won't be able to get a room at the North Rim on this short a notice (but you can try). You wouldn't get one at the South Rim either. If you opt for the North, try staying in Springdale but definitely try to line something up BEFORE you go - accommodations near any of these parks could be full for the weekend!
Thanks for your concern. I just made reservations at Yavapai Lodge for this saturday, August 29th. I understand that it is not the most desireable lodge and does not have spectacular views but at least it is in the park, so I waste less time.
So you must have decided on the South Rim, eh? Can't believe you were able to book a room at ALL at this late date so that's great. Don't worry about it being "less desire-able" - not that many of the lodgings have much of a view as most are set back from the rim a way. You won't spend much time in that room anyway! Let us know how it all went when you get back!!!!
If you haven't left yet, there is a path along the South Rim that extends 8 miles west from Grand Canyon village to Hermit's Rest and I'd highly recommend doing at least some of it- fabulous views and you'll lose at least some of the crowds.
We are going to Vegas mid September. Would love to hear about your trip and the timing re visiting Zion, Bryce and anything else. Wanted to see the arches, but I think too far. What about the North Rim? Did you go there?
Any little cities/sites to stop at along the way?
An itinerary that worked for you would be helpful!
Home base is in Vegas. How many nights if any, would I have to spend away? Am trying to get lodging in Bryce for a night, but maybe that is not the way to go.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Rotini, as the original poster hasn't logged in since Sept of 2009, I doubt they'll be back. Any questions you have should be posted in the travel forum.