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How much time do you need at Bryce and Zion?

Last Update on January 08, 2024
by Sunny Samaroo
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Are you planning a trip to Utah and trying to figure out how long you need at Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park? We're here to help! 

These stunning sites are among the most popular parks in the United States, so we understand wanting to get out there and experience them as much as possible. Here's a guide on how much time you need to explore both Zion and Bryce.

How Much Time Do You Need at Bryce and Zion?

Short answer: You can see both parks in one day if necessary.

Long answer: To really see what these amazing Southwest parks have to offer, it's best to dedicate at least one day to each, or two days for Zion and one day for Bryce.

The amount of time you need depends on how much you want to experience in each location. If you want to, you could spend a whole week exploring Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

To give you an idea of what each park has to offer and help you determine how much time you need at each, here's a rundown on Bryce and Zion.

View of Kolob Canyon at Zion
The sheer size of Zion National Park is awe-inspiring.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is filled with sandstone cliffs and unique slot canyons that will take your breath away. 

This stunning park stretches across more than 140,000 acres; there's so much to explore! To get the full experience, we recommend spending at least two days exploring Zion. This includes taking hikes on some of their most popular trails like Angels Landing and The Narrows. 

If you want to really enjoy the scenery and explore more of the park, you may want to consider staying up to five days in Zion.

If you're short on time, you can see the absolute best of Zion National Park in just 2.5 hours, as part of our small-group 3-day tour that includes both Zion and Bryce, along with the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Monument Valley.

Waterfall at Zion National Park
Zion National Park has many hidden gems tucked away around the park.

What to Consider When Visiting Zion

Season

Winter is the off-season at Zion. There are fewer crowds, but some attractions at high altitudes (such as the popular Angels Landing) can be extraordinarily cold. 

Also, the park's free shuttle doesn't operate in winter. It only operates from March through November. If you don't plan on booking a tour or renting a car for your trip, then the months of December to February may be off the table for you.

Trails

Zion has a variety of trails from easy hikes to strenuous ones. Some have steep drop-offs and narrow ledges, while others are more mellow. Be sure to research the trail ahead of time so you know what kind of physical requirements are needed.

Related Reading: What is the Scariest Hike in Zion? | MaxTour 

Permits

Most areas and attractions in Zion National Park don't require you to have a permit. However, some do, such as Angels Landing. Be sure to check online and plan ahead to make sure you have all the necessary permits before you get there.

Angels Landing at Zion National Park
Angels Landing offers the most iconic view of Zion National Park.

Distance from Zion to Bryce

When it comes to visiting both Zion and Bryce Canyon, you'll need to take into account how far apart the two parks are. 

The drive from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park takes roughly 2 hours, so if you don't have a lot of time to spend make sure to plan accordingly.

If you're not staying overnight close to one or the other, you should also remember to factor in travel time to whichever park you decide to visit first. 

Las Vegas is a popular starting point, and it's a roughly 2.5-hour drive from Zion. Factoring in the drive from Zion to Bryce, the total length of the trip would be (at a minimum) 4.5 hours.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is known for its ethereal rock spires and hoodoos. This remote park provides some of the best stargazing opportunities in the country. It's one of the smallest national parks but it's still huge, at more than 30,000 acres.

We recommend spending at least one full day exploring Bryce Canyon National Park. This includes taking hikes and partaking in some of the unique activities such as night sky photography tours and horseback rides.

Horseback Riding at Bryce Canyon
Horse and mule rides are popular ways to explore Bryce Canyon.

What to Consider When Visiting Bryce

Trails

Like Zion, Bryce has several trails and lookout points that are great for enjoying the magical scenery, like the Peek-a-Boo Loop and Bryce Point. Most of the trails at Bryce are easier than the ones at Zion.

There's also a range of activities such as camping, stargazing, ATV rides, and more. If you want to get the full experience of what Bryce Canyon has to offer, then it will take more time. 

Sunset

Bryce Canyon is known for having extraordinary sunsets. The red, orange, and yellow rays of sunlight at this time of day hit the similarly colored hoodoos, making them even richer in color than usual.

Related Reading: Why is Bryce Canyon So Red?  

Season

Some areas of Bryce may be off-limits during winter due to snow. The park shuttle is also only operational from April through October.

However, the park offers quite a few winter-specific activities, like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and a winter festival. It's one of the better Southwest parks to visit during the winter!

Winter at Bryce Canyon
Snow turns Bryce Canyon from a desert dream to a winter wonderland!

The Bottom Line

So, how much time do you need at Bryce and Zion? If you just want to see the top one or two attractions in each park, then it's possible to do both in one day.

However, if you plan to explore both parks in depth, we recommend spending at least two days at Zion National Park and one day at Bryce Canyon National Park.

It all comes down to personal preference. Whichever way you decide to go, make sure to plan ahead so you can maximize your time and get the most out of your trip.

If you're short on time and thinking of only visiting one of the two parks, check out our post on which one is better to visit: Zion or Bryce Canyon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sunny Samaroo

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