Utah Trip Recap: Zion and Bryce National Parks
Yesterday we got back from a week long trip to Utah. We have been talking about the parks in Utah for awhile now. Last year we went to Yosemite and since we still had our annual parks pass, we decided to go ahead and book Utah too!
We visited Zion, Bryce and Arches National Park. Since I took thousands of pictures I am just recapping Zion and Bryce today! I’ll share more about Arches another day.
Day 1 – Fly from DFW to Las Vegas, Drive to Zion
We flew into Vegas and after getting our car rental and going to the grocery store we headed towards Zion National Park. On the way we there we decided to stop at Valley of Fire State Park. It was HOT! Way too hot to hike, so we just drove around a little bit. We probably could have skipped this stop, but since it was on the way and only $10 we decided why not!
Once arriving in the area, we checked in at Zion’s Nest, which we booked through Airbnb. We got to to meet the owner, Tami, and she was so sweet. The place had such cute decor and colors and was perfect for what we needed. They had a fridge to store all of our groceries as well as a ton of food for breakfast, which was such a help so we could fill up before our hikes. Tami recommended a restaurant down the road that we went to and loved. It was super casual, but gave us the best views!
Day 2 – Hike Zion National Park
Wednesday was my birthday and it started at 5:30am! It was my first time to travel for my birthday and I think it’s the way to go!
A lot of the hikes in Zion were closed due to water and rocks, so we started out with Angel’s Landing.
Angel’s Landing is a 5.4 mile hike with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. It’s the most popular hike in the park. The hardest part is the last mile where it’s extremely dangerous. We started this trail at 7:15 am, but it would have been better to start at 6 am. It was so crowded and because you need to hold on to chains during the last mile and it’s only a one-way path, it meant a lot of stopping and waiting.
The views when reaching the top proved to be beautiful. The total hike took us 3.5 hours but could have been much faster without all the waiting.
After Angel’s Landing we drove through the rest of the park. We decided to stop at Overlook Trail, which was just a one mile hike with 163 ft gain. The views were absolutely stunning and we were so glad we did this hike, as it was quick and easy!
Once we finished driving through the park we went to an area where we could sit by a river. There was absolutely no one around and we had the area all to ourselves. Unfortunately the water was moving way too quickly and it was freezing so we couldn’t really get in it, but it sure felt good to relax and get our feet wet and cold!
Day 3 – Zion Day #2
As I already mentioned a lot of the trails were closed in Zion, so we made the most of day 2 by doing several smaller hikes on the trails that were open. We started early again and were at the park by 6:30. We did the Lower Emerald Pools hike, which was just 1.2 miles with very little elevation change.
We also did Weeping Rock, which probably isn’t even worth mentioning because it was only .4 miles round trip. After that we attempted to do the Sand bench trail, but as the shuttle driver warned us, it was full of deep sand and it was miserable.
Considering it was such a long trail and we hadn’t made it very far, we turned around. We are so glad we did as it was 7.6 miles total which would have been way too much in deep sand. Instead we crossed the street and took a look at the Court of the Patriarchs peaks before hopping on the shuttle again.
Lastly we did the Watchmen Trail, which next to Angel’s Landing, was our favorite. This trail started from the visitor center and we thought it was going to be easy and quick, but turned out it was 3.3 miles with 368 feet gain.
That was enough hiking for us. After Watchman trail we attempted to find an area that Colby had researched called the Pinecreek Waterfall. It was a little tricky to find since it’s an unmarked area, but eventually we did. It was a 10 minute walk and contained a ton of boulders to crawl over, but we found our way.
There was several different areas of swimming. There was also a waterfall at the end, a “slide”, and an area to cliff jump too. We spent several hours here just relaxing and enjoying the cold water. It was a blast!
And that was our trip to Zion! After leaving that afternoon, we made the drive to Panguitch, Utah where we stayed in a room we found on Airbnb. Panguitch is a very, very small town but it was a great location to access Bryce National Park. The place we stayed worked great because we had a huge bathroom and kitchen to store all of our food.
Day 4: Bryce National Park
We had another early morning and started hiking at 7am. We started the day with Fairyland hike, which was 8 miles and had 2,300 feet of elevation gain. For the first half of the hike we only saw 2 people! It was wonderful. That is the advantage of doing one of the harder hikes and starting so early. We really liked this hike and it just amazed me how different the terrain was from Zion.
After finishing, I laid on the ground for an hour. I wish I was kidding, but I am not. I was so tired! Once I could muster up some energy we did the main scenic drive and stopped at some of the lookout points.
The Wallstreet hike was recommended to us and so we did that next and it was clearly the most popular area of the park. There were so many people! It was just 1.3 mile with 550 feet gain but we really liked this trail.
After the hike was over we drove around Panguitch lake. We were hoping to get out and sit by the lake, but it was so windy and cold that we just sat in our car and enjoyed the views!
And that is my recap of Zion and Bryce National Parks in Utah! I will be recapping Arches National Park soon, but for now, here are some tips!
I know I already mentioned this, but if you are going to Zion, get there early! Same thing for Bryce too. I think getting to the park by 7 am is best, but if you want to do Angel’s Landing in Zion, then I would get there by 6 am. FYI, you don’t have to pay if you go early. It didn’t matter for us since we had an annual pass, but you can drive right through when you go in at 6 or 7.
For Zion, there are two roads, one takes you to the majority of the hikes and is only accessible by bus and the other is the main road through the park which you can drive through. Instead of parking at the Visitor’s center, we parked near shuttle stop #3 and we would recommend doing so to avoid the crowds at the visitor center. If you end up doing the waterfall, you will also want to park near stop #3.
If you don’t want to do Angel’s Landing due to the distance or danger, I recommend doing the first part of it called West Rim. I also highly recommend Overlook Trail and Watchman! The easiest of those three is definitely Overlook Trail and it gives you great views.
It was freezing in the mornings at all the parks, around 40-50 and then 80-90 by afternoon so make sure to pack layers!
For so many years we hiked without a camelbak and I don’t know how we did it. It’s definitely worth the investment. I would pack lots of snacks too. We used the round towel I have displayed below every day as well. It’s so handy to have when you want to sit in the park.
If you want to book an Airbnb you can use this link for $40 off!
Our Prior Vacations:
I didn’t start sharing our traveling adventures on the blog until the end of 2013, but you can see some of our vacations below. You can also see our best tips for traveling on a budget here!
Western Caribbean Cruise
South America: Argentina
South America: Torres Del Paine
South America: Lake Region
South America: Santiago + Coast
Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio
Costa Rica: Santa Teresa
Costa Rica: La Fortuna
Caribbean Cruise – Grand Turk + Dominican Republic
Caribbean Cruise – Aruba + Curacao
Colorado Ski Date #2
Europe: The Netherlands
Europe: Montenegro + Greece
Colorado Ski Trip #4
Northern California + Lake Tahoe
Yosemite + Napa
Eastern Caribbean Cruise: Grand Turk + San Juan
Eastern Caribbean Cruise: St. Kitts + St. Maarten
Colorado Skip Trip #5
Shop This Post!
Did you see I launched a podcast? A Cup Full of Hope Podcast is now available for you to listen to!
If you are going through infertility, please head over to join the faith-based support group I founded, Moms in the Making!
Have you picked up a copy of my book? Buy In Due Time, a 60-day devotional for hope + encouragement in the waiting.
I created a group on facebook as an extension of my book + blog to discuss anything + everything. Women only! Come join us!