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Is the drive from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon scary?

Last Update on May 14, 2024
by Marko Milin
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The journey from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon is one that encapsulates the breathtaking beauty of the American Southwest. This route, often traveled by adventurers looking to explore two of Utah's most magnificent national parks, offers stunning landscapes and an unforgettable driving experience.

But is the drive from Zion to Bryce scary? For those planning to embark on this scenic route, there's good news. While the drive is certainly dramatic, it's not necessarily scary, and with the right preparation, it can be an enjoyable and safe part of your adventure.

Understanding the Route

The drive from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon covers approximately 72 miles and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions. The route typically follows Highway 9 through Zion National Park, connecting to Highway 89, and then onto Highway 12 towards Bryce Canyon.

This journey offers a variety of landscapes, from the towering cliffs of Zion to the expansive forests and high-altitude meadows leading to Bryce Canyon.

  • The best time to visit Zion National Park is during the spring and fall when temperatures are mild and the park is less crowded.
  • Make sure to plan your stops at scenic viewpoints like the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel and Checkerboard Mesa.

What Makes the Drive Unique?

One of the most remarkable aspects of the drive is the transition between ecosystems. Travelers ascend from Zion's lower elevation, characterized by its iconic red rock formations and great valleys, to the higher, cooler, and more forested terrain around Bryce Canyon.

This elevation change brings about a noticeable shift in scenery and temperature, making for a diverse driving experience.

  • The elevation change brings cooler temperatures and more forested areas as you approach Bryce Canyon.
  • Be sure to know what not to miss at Bryce Canyon, including the Sunrise Point and the famous Hoodoos.

Navigating the Roads

The roads on this route are well-maintained and designed to accommodate a steady flow of traffic, including larger vehicles like RVs and tour buses. However, like any mountainous drive, there are sections with steep grades and sharp curves. The key to a comfortable drive is to take it slow, especially on unfamiliar roads, and to use pullouts to let faster vehicles pass and to enjoy the views safely.

In winter, the route can experience snow and ice, particularly as you approach Bryce Canyon, which sits at a higher elevation. During these months, it's essential to check road conditions before setting out and to ensure your vehicle is equipped for winter driving, including having snow chains if necessary.

  • Check road conditions in winter and equip your vehicle with snow chains if necessary.
  • Use pullouts to let faster vehicles pass and enjoy the views safely.

Scenic Stops Along the Way

Part of what makes this drive so special are the scenic stops and viewpoints along the way. The Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, Checkerboard Mesa, and Red Canyon offer opportunities to stretch your legs and capture photos of the stunning landscapes. These stops also provide a chance to appreciate the journey as much as the destinations of Zion and Bryce Canyon themselves.

The drive from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon is an integral part of the adventure when exploring these two iconic landscapes. While the route offers dramatic scenery and requires attentive driving, it is not inherently scary. With proper preparation and an appreciation for the journey, this drive can be a highlight of your visit to Utah's national parks. Enjoy the breathtaking beauty, and make the most of your adventure in the American Southwest.

Conclusion

The drive from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon is an integral part of the adventure when exploring these two iconic landscapes. While the route offers dramatic scenery and requires attentive driving, it is not inherently scary.

With proper preparation and an appreciation for the journey, this drive can be a highlight of your visit to Utah's national parks. Enjoy the breathtaking beauty, and make the most of your adventure in the American Southwest. Remember to check the best time to visit Zion National Park and make note of what not to miss at Bryce Canyon to ensure you have an unforgettable experience. Happy travels!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marko Milin

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