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Old 05-11-2013, 08:16 AM
 
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I'm planning a driving vacation for next year. We want to see the Grand Canyon, but I have been told Bryce Canyon is more beautiful. Since Zion is so close, do we need to visit both? What is the scoop on both Zion and Bryce - are they worth adding 3-4 hours driving time to my trip? (I'm already up to 30+ hours in the car and am waffling whether to bypass these.) Thanks!
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmalltownKSgirl View Post
I'm planning a driving vacation for next year. We want to see the Grand Canyon, but I have been told Bryce Canyon is more beautiful. Since Zion is so close, do we need to visit both? What is the scoop on both Zion and Bryce - are they worth adding 3-4 hours driving time to my trip? (I'm already up to 30+ hours in the car and am waffling whether to bypass these.) Thanks!
Here's my opinion... Grand Canyon is spectacular, but that's primarily due to its size. It's positively enormous, and it takes your breath away when you first stand on the rim and look out at it. In terms of sheer beauty, however, both Bryce and Zion beat Grand hands down. As to which of them is "more beautiful" than the other, that's hard to say. I'd probably have to answer, "whichever one I'm at when you ask the question." Bryce has always been my favorite, and I have visited both Bryce and Zion more times than I can even count. It's not as large as Zion, though, and there is probably less to do there than in Zion. If you can possibly do so, see them both. It's only an hour and a half drive from one to the other, and I'd hate to see you miss either of them since they're entirely different from each other -- not to mention entirely different from Grand. Yes, it's absolutely worth adding another 3 to 4 hours driving time from Grand, and it's worth 1 1/2 more driving time to see them both if you decide to see one. If you decide to see one or the other or both, let us know. I can recommend some specifics in both parks.

Bottom line: They are among the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous places in the world.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Hagerman, Idaho
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The way I'd put it is unless you are one who likes to hike around and spend some significant time exploring Zion is IMHO not the best choice. It's specialties are for those that hike it's trails and explore the various places it offers, which requires some physical effort. Bryce is simple as the road that traverses it's length gives you great vistas and views with near no effort so I find that easier to deal with these days. I'm not a hiker frankly and prefer to have road access to special views, which Bryce DOES easily and more so than Zion from my experience. If one were a hiker Zion is a treasure trove of opportunities for amazing sites, but as I say it DOES require effort. you don't just take a car or bus right to all the sights with no effort
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Old 05-11-2013, 02:46 PM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
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I agree with dcesive. Although Zion has some short and easy hikes.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:27 PM
 
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These are great responses, thank you!
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Old 05-17-2013, 08:50 AM
 
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Definitely go to both Zion and Bryce if you decide to make the drive, but I prefer Bryce. Zion is magnificent and great for hiking, but the landscape at Bryce is just really cool, kind of like being on another planet. It's also known for its dark skies, so it was neat seeing the night sky there and attending ranger programs on astronomy. Like others have said, Bryce is smaller and has a few good hikes, but its sights also really accessible by car if that's important to you, or if you have limited time.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:54 PM
 
Location: Hiding from Antifa?
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You cannot take a bad picture at either one.
Once parked at Zion, you can take the bus up and down the canyon, getting out at various spots and do a little hiking. Most are not strenuous. They can be long, especially at the northern terminus to get to the point where you'd have to trek through the Virgin River to go any further. But it is a very level and paved walkway to get there.
At Bryce you just drive from one overlook to the next. My recommendation is to drive to the southern most point(use the restroom facility while there) then stop at all the overlooks on the way out, since they will be on your right. Fewer left turns that way.
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:42 AM
 
Location: east millcreek
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Don't forget that April through October you can NOT drive your car into Zion, shuttle bus only.
If you are truly on a road trip I would not sorry about a few extra hours in the car as us Kansas girls are used to driving forever to get somewhere!
Capitol Reef, Cedar Break, Arches, Bryce and Zion-it is all here in Utah!
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Old 05-18-2013, 04:28 PM
 
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We went to Zion first, and are at Bryce right now. If I only had time for one, I'd do Bryce hands down (and I didn't even think I'd like it at all). If I had no plans to ever return to the area, I would absolutely make room for at least Bryce - you would not regret having seen such a thing (Zion too, but that would be in second place for me). Bryce is smaller than Zion, but feels much bigger to me because of the lay of the land, I guess.

At Zion, you wait for a shuttle to go through the main part of the park, ie you cannot drive through the whole thing on your own, which I found understandable from an efficiency standpoint, but too limiting for my age/timeframe. The most exciting trails are probably The Narrows and Angel's Landing, but I wasn't up to hiking into a river to see the slot canyon of the Narrows, and from the photos I saw, I would have been too afraid of the heights at AL. That said, I did the Navajo Loop here at Bryce this am (and dh is out there on it even with his bad knee) and it was fun, even though quite steep in places. You can do the shuttle if you want in Bryce, but you are allowed to take your car and drive to the end at Rainbow Point and back, which was more fun than using a shuttle (took as long as I wanted at each of the 14 viewpoints, and had my lunch/snacks, extra water, treking pole, etc with me in the truck to resupply as needed. Not as easy to do when you take the shuttle - am older and don't like to carry as much as I used to).

So I am getting much more bang for my buck here than at Zion in terms of easy to reach magnificent views and cool hikes (though I enjoyed taking my dog on the Pa'rus Trail at Zion!). It is much more spacious camping here at Bryce (well, not nearly as cramped everywhere you go as it felt at Zion, which helps because it is just starting to get crowded at both). And spectacular views of hoodoos, rock formations; yet much of the park is high alpine with wide open pine trees spaces, prairie dogs, antelopes and elk grazing in meadows. Great combo of red desert rock formations and green ponderosa pines. We stayed at Watchman CG in Zion, cramped, but elec sites are available and are at the North CG here at Bryce, not cramped but no electric. Showers and laundry are easy to find just outside of each park. We are only here for 2 nights/1 full day, and I wish I had one more full day!

Have fun whatever way you go - I am loving southwest Utah

P.S. You can also do horse rides in the park, saw them up by Bryce Canyon Lodge. That would be a ton of fun, two or four hour rides offered.

Last edited by sugarsugar; 05-18-2013 at 04:44 PM..
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Old 05-19-2013, 12:56 PM
 
Location: Rocky Mountain Xplorer
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Whatever you do, do not leave out the trip on Utah state road 12 that skims along the northern edge of the "Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument", which IMO is comparable to the great NPs of Utah led by Zion and Bryce. The drive on state 12 truly is memorable !
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