This past May, Zac and I took a National Park road trip out west to celebrate my masters graduation. It was an incredible vacation and one that I highly recommend to any and everyone! Two of the parks we tackled were Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks in southern Utah. Both were indescribable in beauty, but I must say, Bryce Canyon will forever have a special place in my heart.
Day One: Bryce Canyon
We began our journey in Bryce Canyon National Park. The scenery leading to the park entrance alone told me that we were about to have our jaws dropped. The red rocks and the mountainous landscape were like nothing I had ever seen…I mean, how could it get any better?
Well let me tell you, it could and it did!
There are no words and no pictures that can possibly do this National Park the justice it deserves. So please, just do me a favor, go visit!
Prior to our trip, Zac and I asked a few of our friends from Utah if they had any trail suggestions for us to hike and all recommendations led us to the Navajo Loop Trail. Unfortunately, the southern part of Utah had recently received a fair amount of rain and snow, so the trail was closed off due to poor conditions. Therefore, Zac and I ended up hiking multiple connecting trails within the canyon.
Our hiking journey began at the Bryce Canyon rim, as we walked from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point. Warning: if you do this, be prepared to maneuver your way through busloads of tourists all fighting to get the perfect picture or selfie.
Despite the fact that it is a very touristy thing to do, the views are 100% worth it! As you look down at the vast landscape of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater, adorned with burnt orange and cream banded hoodoos rising up from the floor, you can’t help but feel total and complete awe. Nature is pretty stinking neat!
After I successfully filled my iCloud, we were ready to escape the tourists and descend into the canyon.
Our decent began at the Queens Garden trailhead. From there we connected to a portion of the Navajo Loop then finished out our hike on the Peek-a-Boo Loop trail. Only take this route if you are game for a strenuous hike, about four-five hours in length from start to finish. The trails had many switchbacks and every time Zac and I thought we were finally ascending back to the top, the trail would drop back down. Nothing is more disheartening than climbing for 20 minutes straight only to undo everything you’ve just done and climb back down…but I digress.
About 4 hours later we made it through the entire park. This was not on purpose and we were by no means physically prepared, but I would not have changed a thing. The views we took in and the peace we experienced deep within the canyon were what dreams are made of (cue Lizzie Maguire singing, “What Dreams Are Made Of). Disclaimer: be prepared for switchbacks galore!
Check out some of the pictures we took within the canyon:
Overnight: Cedar City
After we finished our journey in Bryce, we piled our muddy, exhausted bodies into the rental car then headed through the mountains to Cedar City, where a cute Air B&B awaited us. Cedar City is a cute little city in Southern Utah and is a good midway point between Bryce and Zion National Parks. Prior to our journey, some friends recommended we stay here to save money, while having a nice place to rest up before another day of hiking.
As son as we arrived, our stomachs led us to a retro, 50’s diner-type burger joint called Hermies Drive In. Their burgers will leave you drooling…which is probably why they were voted best burgers around both city and state wide. This place is definitely a “must-go” if you are looking to grab a burger as you stop through the city.
Day Two: Zion
Mind you, we thought we left pretty early, as we arrived at Zion around 9:30am. But when we got there, parking was full inside the park and we had to pay extra to park outside in the surrounding town. So my advice to you, get there as soon as the park opens. The earlier the better!
Similar to Bryce, the weather prior to our trip was poor leading to snow melts, meaning the Narrows and a few other good trails were closed off for safety. With that said, this led to increased traffic on the remaining trails. Angel’s Landing had a two-hour wait, with a line similar to one you would see at an amusement park.
Zac and I ended up doing some smaller trails around the park, as we wanted to avoid as many people as possible. And despite the large quantities of people, the scenery was absolutely gorgeous no matter where you found yourself in the park.
If I could do Zion over again, I think I would camp there for at least 2 days in order to have early access to trails and to fully take in all the park has to offer.
Well, there you have it, a two-day guide to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. Happy hiking y’all!