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Bryce or Zion National Parks?

Betty

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We will be visiting Las Vegas in a few months for the first time, and while we are in the "area," we want to visit one of these two national parks on an overnight trip. Which would be your first choice and why?

I realize that Bryce is considerably farther away, but is it worth the longer drive or will Zion be just as nice? We visited the Grand Canyon last spring and thought it was awesome. Will these be a disappointment in comparison, or do they have their own unique charm? Any and all comments will be appreciated.

Thanks,
Betty
 

Deb from NC

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They are both extremely beautiful. My husband liked Bryce better, I liked
Zion! Bryce is more similar to the Grand Canyon-you're generally on the rim
looking down. The colors of the canyon are incredible. At Zion, you are more in a valley, looking up. More amazing colors...If you are at all afraid
of heights, Zion is a better place to hike. (Bryce was too steep
for me in some parts...I had to sit out some of the hikes!). But they are both beautiful and unique -in my
opinion, every bit as wonderful as the Grand Canyon, but on a smaller
scale. If you really only have time for one though, my vote would go to Zion.
Have fun!
Deb
 

spatenfloot

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I plan to visit Zion on my next trip to Vegas in April. I might add a night at the St. George Worldmark so I can visit Bryce also but haven't decided yet. I hear they are both nice places to hike.
 

Laurie

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I personally liked Bryce better, just more unusual, and brighter colors - but some others in our party liked Zion better. Of the various sections of Zion, I preferred the part you can drive thru (where Checkerboard Mesa is), more than the part right in the valley where you must park in a lot and take the bus to various hiking trails. (There's also a separate part of Zion not connected to the main park, and it's very pretty too.)

Deb is right, Zion's easier, more level, to hike in. We had our hiking poles at Bryce, and could have sold about 4 sets of them on the spot, since several people we passed on the trail asked us where they could buy some. But Bryce is a great place to hike for beauty. And you can see a lot from many lookouts, driving along the rim.

I also confess to preferring our own car to having to deal with bus transportation within a park - when we went to Zion in May it was very hot, buses weren't air conditioned, after a hike I was about ready to pass out sitting in a hot bus for half an hour. I'm not sure whether there are times of year you can take your car into the valley part of Zion.

We were in St. George and drove to Zion for 2 day trips; we only went to Bryce once, and regretted not overnighting there - there was a decent-looking motel right at the gate.

I didn't think either was quite as awesome as Grand Canyon - but not much is.

Google these 2 parks, click on images, see which landscapes you're more drawn to.
 
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derb

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If your a hiker, choose Bryce

Going down the Navajo switchbacks and up Queens garden trail is simply spectactular. But the walk up from the bottom, if your a flatlander, can be tiring. Because of the spectacular scenery, long drives are tolerable. You might think of driving to both with a stop over.
 

gmarine

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They are very different parks. At Bryce you are for the most part hiking down into the canyon from the rim. Fairlyland loop is an excellant hike.

At Zion you are in a valley and many of the best hikes go up rather than down like in Bryce, with the exception being the Narrows. The hike to Observation point is excellent as is Angels Landing. Angels Landing is not for the faint of heart.

I would try to make time for at least a day or two at each depending on how much, if any, hiking you want to do. If you are just going to see the parks from a distance, with little hiking, then they can be seen in a short amount of time.
 

Rose Pink

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Laurie said:
(There's also a separate part of Zion not connected to the main park, and it's very pretty too.)
aka Kolob Canyon. It is just off I-15 north of St. George but before you get to Cedar City.
 

Avery

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gmarine said:
They are very different parks. At Bryce you are for the most part hiking down into the canyon from the rim. Fairlyland loop is an excellant hike.

At Zion you are in a valley and many of the best hikes go up rather than down like in Bryce, with the exception being the Narrows.
But if you hike down, doesn't it follow that you must hike back up, and vice versa? Am I missing something? I know I'm just a city girl, but???
 

gmarine

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Avery said:
But if you hike down, doesn't it follow that you must hike back up, and vice versa? Am I missing something? I know I'm just a city girl, but???
No, if you go down you have to stay there. Same if you go up. No coming back. ;) Then again the Angels Landing hike can be pretty hairy. I am sure some havent made it back from that one.

My point was that they are different in those ways. At Bryce the lodge is at the rim of the canyon. At Zion it is at the bottom of the valley.

Hiking down into Bryce Canyon is more difficult than hiking up in Zion because at Bryce the easier hike down comes when you are fresh then the more difficult hike up comes when you are more tired.
 

ElaineA

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"I'm not sure whether there are times of year you can take your car into the valley part of Zion"

There are times when the buses don't run - off season. We went in Feb. I suspect late fall through early spring at Zion. A good way to avoid the bus at Bryce is to go for sunrise. It requires you to get up very early, but you are there before the buses start running. I like sunrise better than sunset for Bryce (also my favorite). I personally think Zion and Bryce are better than the Grand Canyon, although the North Rim is better than the South Rim.
 

Htoo0

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Although we would have enjoyed more time in each we did manage to see both and the Grand Canyon in a two day trip. Enjoyed it all!
 

beejaybeeohio

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are beautiful. Zion has several hikes that are totally doable. But do not rule out Bryce as you can take a guided horseback ride into the depths and just viewing the scenery from up top is worth it in and of itself. I wouldn't compare Bryce to the Grand Canyon because there only commonality is that you are looking down. They are so close you must go to both!
Barb
 

timesharejunkie4

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DH and I are planning to add a view days onto our Las Vegas trip in mid-March. We are planning to spend 3 nights, one at Zion and 2 at Bryce - how does that sound? We will be driving from Las Vegas and back. What weather can we expect at this time of year? Can anyone give us any other tips regarding things to do and see? TIA
Carole
 

gmarine

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timesharejunkie4 said:
DH and I are planning to add a view days onto our Las Vegas trip in mid-March. We are planning to spend 3 nights, one at Zion and 2 at Bryce - how does that sound? We will be driving from Las Vegas and back. What weather can we expect at this time of year? Can anyone give us any other tips regarding things to do and see? TIA
Carole
A great book to get is Frommer's Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Very helpfull book will answer all your questions and more.
 

Steve

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Zion

My favorite of the two is Zion. They are both beautiful, but I like Zion best. It's also the most accessible of the two as it's much closer to the interstate.

The weather in March in Zion Canyon (the valley part of the park which most visitors visit) could either be chilly or else sunny and mild. Bryce is located at a much higher elevation, and it will most likely be cold, with a good chance of snow.

Both of these parks offer a much more intimate experience than the Grand Canyon. They are smaller and very beautiful, but not as dramatic. I prefer either of them over the Grand Canyon, but different people have different tastes as you can see from the varying responses to this thread.

Whatever you choose, have fun and enjoy southern Utah!

Steve
 

riverdees05

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If you are there the right time of the year - winter, then Death Valley is another National Park that you could consider. It is great, but different than Zion or Bryce.
 

boaterkathy

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We were in that area last summer, and I think both my husband and I would say we liked Bryce better. Zion was very nice, too, but Bryce is so different. The formations in the valley are so unusual and interesting. We didn't really do any hiking, so can't comment on that. I would also recommend Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. It is over towards Mesquite and well worth the time to visit. You might be able to hit it on your way to Utah. The colors are beautiful and there is a nice visitor center.
 

KevJan

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Living in the backyard of these national parks I feel that I should respond here. The time of year you visit certainly has an impact on your trip. Mid-March is a very good time to visit Zion, weather is usually quite warm, in the high 70's to mid 80's. Although it has been known to be quite cold and windy.
Bryce will undoubtedly still be having winter and very possibly snow. Both parks are spectacular in their own way. I prefer Zion, possibly because I live less than an hour away and go there often. The shuttle service in Zion usually runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day. If I can be of further assistance e-mail me at JntCrw@hotmail.com.
 

shagnut

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I liked Zion best. I hiked to Weeping Rock and the Emerald Pool. I can't hike a long time because of my messed up foot, but I liked Zion. I thought Bryce was prettier. Also a little tip. Eat at the Bumbleberry Inn (at entrance to Ziion) and be sure to have a piece of Bumbleberry pie for me!! shaggy
 

opusX

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We have been to both several times. Both are amazing/different in their own ways. Have stayed at the lodge in Zion, very nice. The last two trips we have stayed at Bed & Breakfasts. If you do some searching you can find many B & B's. About 5 years ago we stayed at a B & B between Zion and Bryce. Stayed their 2 nights and saw both parks easily. It was less than a 45 min drive to either. I would recommend that you see both parks as they are not that far apart, as a matter of fact the time we stayed at Zion lodge for 3 nights we visited Zion, Bryce and the North rim of the Grand Canyon. A spectacular trip.
 

Htoo0

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Just keep in mind you can't do the North rim this time of year. :p
 

Betty

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Dining at Bryce & Zion National Parks/Driving Distance ?

Well, we've decided to spend less time in Las Vegas and go to Bryce Canyon after all. We have one-night reservations first at the Bryce Canyon Lodge followed by a night at the Zion Lodge. Since we are from the East Coast and don't know when we'll get back to that area, we decided that after reading all your comments, we had to see both. We aren't expecting luxurious accommodations at either lodge, but we are hoping they are similar to the Kachina Lodge at the Grand Canyon where we stayed for a night last spring.

We are a little hesitant about eating in either of the lodge dining rooms because of some of the reviews we've read on TripAdvisor.com. However, if it would be a similar experience to that which we had in the dining room at the Grand Canyon, we might decide to give it a try anyway. The dining room at the GC was fine and convenient and, hopefully, both of these experiences would be similar. Should we make a reservation or avoid them like the plague?

Also, are we smart in driving from LV to Bryce the first day, or should we plan them in reverse and stay at Zion the first night? We are figuring the drive to Bryce will be about 4.5 hours and would try to leave bright and early in the morning, so we could be there by noontime. Would you say that is an accurate estimate of the time it will take to get there from LV. We are staying outside of the city at The Cliffs at Peace Canyon, so will that make the drive longer or shorter?

Thanks for your opinions.
Betty
 

Laurie

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shagnut said:
Also a little tip. Eat at the Bumbleberry Inn (at entrance to Ziion) and be sure to have a piece of Bumbleberry pie for me!! shaggy
Eating near Zion: be sure to do what Shaggy says, and have some bumbleberry pie. We ate a full meal + pie there, and then ordered more pie to go. Bumbleberries only grow in a secret place near the park, so it's your only chance! ;)
 
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