Zion And Bryce Canyon Itinerary: 2, 3 + 4 Days

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Canyon view from the summit of Angels Landing is one of the highlights on a Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip

Do you want to create the best Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary? Use this guide to learn everything there is to know about visiting both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park, before planning the perfect road trip with our 2, 3 and 4 days Zion to Bryce Canyon itinerary ideas with maps.

Is a Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip worth it?

Absolutely! We think Zion to Bryce Canyon is one of the very best Utah road trips for visitors who are short on time or who just want to get a taste for the American southwest. Both Zion and Bryce Canyon are exceptionally popular national parks offering amazing hikes and stunning photo spots.

In this guide we will cover:

  • Are both Zion and Bryce Canyon worth visiting?
  • How to get to both national parks
  • Hiking and photography highlights
  • 2, 3 and 4 days Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary ideas
  • Best places to eat and stay at both parks

Let’s get right into planning your Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip!

Our Zion And Bryce Canyon Experience

We have been lucky enough to extensively explore Zion National Park over 6 days on two separate occasions.

During both visits to Zion (once in October 2019 and again in December 2021), we have hiked all of the popular trails and photographed stunning red rock formations throughout each of the major regions in the national park.

Up to now we have been to Bryce Canyon once, but this park is much smaller so we were able to see and do everything across our two day visit. Next time we are in Utah, we will definitely be heading back to Bryce Canyon, along with Arches and Canyonlands for another visit.

We think Zion and Bryce Canyon are incredibly picturesque, fun and exciting places to visit and both easily made our list of the best US national parks.

During two visits to the area, we have stayed at several hotels all around both parks including in La Verkin, Springdale, Zion Lodge, Bryce Canyon and Tropic. We also spent cold nights camping in both parks, so you can rest assured we know the areas well.

All of the information, tips, photos and itineraries in this guide are a direct result of our own experiences in Zion and Bryce Canyon and we hope it all helps you plan the best possible trip to southwest Utah!

Couple hugging on a cold day in Bryce Canyon national park after sunset
Mark and Kristen in Bryce Canyon on a cold evening right after sunset

Zion National Park Factfile

  • Address: Springdale, UT 84767
  • Website: nps.gov/zion
  • Phone: (435) 772-3256
  • Hours: All day, every day
  • Entrance Fee: $35 per vehicle 7 day pass (free with America the Beautiful Pass)
  • Visitor Center: Open 8.00am-6.00pm spring and fall, 8.00am-7.00pm in summer and 8.00am-5.00pm in winter
  • Campgrounds: South and Watchman (see campgrounds later in the guide)
  • Lodging: Springdale, La Verkin and Hurricane (see where to stay later)
  • Backcountry: Yes, backcountry camping permitted with wilderness use permit
  • Activities: Hiking, camping, canyoneering, stargazing, photography
  • Annual Visitors: 4.5 million
  • Best Time: Every season has pros and cons (see best time to visit later)
Hiker stood on the edge of a rocky viewpoint overlooking Zion canyon below at sunset
Kristen enjoying the sunset view from Zion Canyon Overlook

Is Zion National Park Worth Visiting?

Yes, Zion National Park is definitely worth visiting, especially if you enjoy hiking. You can expect stunning canyons with 2,000 ft tall sandstone walls flanking valleys and creeks, world famous adventure hikes and immense natural beauty.

We love hiking in Zion National Park and the best part is that there are trails for every ability. There truly is a fantastic hike in Zion for everyone from adventure seekers through to families with younger kids.

Zion is not only home to some of the very best hikes in the USA, but it is also exceptionally photogenic from dawn to dusk. We will definitely be back in Zion in the near future to get even further off the beaten path.

The major downside to Zion is how densely crowded it can be in summer. Our best advice for Zion is to visit in the off season.

What Do You Need To Know About Zion?

Zion National Park is split into 3 main regions known as the Main Zion Canyon, Kolob Terrace and Kolob Canyons. It is home to several of the top bucket list hikes in Utah.

The Main Zion Canyon (where you will find Angels Landing and The Narrows) is much smaller than you might imagine, and it receives almost all of the visitors.

In the years leading up to 2019, Zion received around 4.5 million annual visitors. That number jumped during covid but numbers are beginning to drop as tourist trends normalize and international vacations pick up once again.

During peak summer months, getting parked in Springdale to visit Zion is a real issue. However, hotel options are plentiful and you can make use of the Zion shuttle system.

Person hiking through waist deep water with waterproof backpack in a narrow canyon
Mark wading through the water on our bottom up hike in The Narrows in Zion

Bryce Canyon National Park Factfile

  • Address: PO Box 640201, Bryce, UT 84764
  • Website: nps.gov/brca
  • Phone: (435) 834-5322
  • Hours: All day, every day
  • Entrance Fee: $35 per vehicle 7 day pass (free with America the Beautiful Pass)
  • Visitor Center: Open 8.00am-6.00pm spring and fall, 8.00am-8.00pm in summer and 8.00am-4.30pm in winter
  • Campgrounds: North and Sunset (see campgrounds later in the guide)
  • Lodging: Bryce Canyon City, Tropic and others (see where to stay later)
  • Backcountry: Yes, backcountry camping permitted with wilderness use permit
  • Activities: Hiking, camping, stargazing, photography
  • Annual Visitors: 2.6 million
  • Best Time: Every season has pros and cons (see best time to visit later)
Series of switchbacks leading down into a narrow sandstone canyon
Switchbacks leading down into Bryce Canyon amphitheater

Is Bryce Canyon National Park Worth Visiting?

Yes! Bryce Canyon National Park is home to the most expansive collection of hoodoos in the world. Photographers from around the globe flock to Bryce Canyon to photograph its remarkable needle-like amphitheater, which glows a burning red at sunrise and dims to a cool orange at sunset.

We really enjoyed watching sunset and the milky way dazzling above Bryce Canyon’s strange hoodoo landscape. Sunrise over Bryce amphitheater is one of the best we have seen and the Queens Garden Navajo loop hike is incredibly unique.

The major downside to Bryce Canyon is its smaller size and relative lack of different attractions. Our best advice for Bryce Canyon is to visit at different times of year to benefit photogenically from the various seasons.

What Do You Need To Know About Bryce Canyon?

The most important thing to know before planning your road trip is that Bryce Canyon National Park is much more compact and far easier to visit than Zion.

The good news is that Bryce Canyon is less overwhelming because technically you could see the entire park, hike the top trails and photograph the amphitheater at both sunrise and sunset in one long day.

But the bad news is that Bryce Canyon is a very popular national park with around 2.5 million visits each year. This means the small park can also become very crowded in peak season.

Hoodoo needles made of sandstone in Utah with deep blue sky behind
Trails leading through unique needle-like hoodoos in Bryce Canyon

How Many Days Do You Need To Visit Both Zion And Bryce Canyon?

When planning your Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip, the very first thing you need to figure out is how long you want to spend in both parks.

Here’s the thing; if you are a hiker you should spend more time in Zion, but if you are a photographer you should spend more time in Bryce Canyon.

We hike and take photos for a living, and after spending a lot of time in the area, we would suggest planning for two full days in Zion with one full day in Bryce Canyon for first time visitors to these popular national parks.

All things considered with getting time off work, hotel costs and filling your time with things to do, we think 3 days is the optimal time for this Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip.

However, if you are a big hiker, you might want to plan for three full days in Zion and one full day in Bryce Canyon. This is one of the best USA road trips and it is important you give yourself enough time to achieve your goals.

Our Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary ideas later in the guide are for two, three and four days.

Hiker sat on rocks overlooking a huge valley with mountains in Utah
Mark enjoying the impressive view in the quiet Kolob Canyon area of Zion

Can You See Zion And Bryce Canyon In One Day?

Yes, you can see some parts of Zion National Park and most of Bryce Canyon National Park in one day. But you wouldn’t have time to take on any of the major hikes in Zion and overall you would miss out on many of the best highlights in each park.

Bryce Canyon is easy enough to see in half a day, but you really do need at least one full day in Zion if you want to get a real taste for the park. These parks are two of the best places to visit in Utah because there are so many awesome things to do for visitors.

Therefore, we do not recommend trying to visit both Zion and Bryce Canyon in one day. That is unless you are driving a long distance American southwest road trip and just want to drop in to see what all the fuss is about!

Only have one day? Visit Zion and use one of our one day in Zion National Park itinerary ideas to see different ways you can day trip this famous park.

Hiker walking through a cave on a sunny day in Utah
Kristen hiking a part of the fun Zion Canyon Overlook trail

Zion vs Bryce Canyon: Which Park Is Better?

Calling a winner between Zion and Bryce Canyon is near impossible because they are such contrasting propositions.

What we can say is that hikers will likely prefer Zion, whereas general sightseers and photographers will likely prefer Bryce Canyon. This is a general rule but will not always be the case.

The two parks are unique and spectacular in their own ways, plus every one of us has a different idea about what makes a place better.

Instead of comparing the two parks, you should allow enough time for your Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip so you can see both landscapes and leave with your own opinion of this popular question.

Sunset view over the Virgin River in Zion with colorful clouds over the water
Sunset at Canyon Junction Bridge in Zion is stunning

What Is The Elevation Of Zion National Park?

The town of Springdale at the entrance to Zion National Park sits at 3,900 ft in elevation above sea level.

To give you an idea about elevation changes within Zion main canyon, the popular Angels Landing trail summits at 5,790 feet.

If you have time to take on some of the hikes in Kolob Canyon you can stand on Timber Creek Overlook at 6,300 feet above sea level.

What Is The Elevation Of Bryce Canyon National Park?

Bryce Canyon City sits at 7,650 feet elevation above sea level. Therefore, the rim at Bryce Canyon amphitheater is almost twice as high in altitude as Zion’s main canyon floor.

That is a hefty change in elevation when driving from Zion to Bryce Canyon.

Altitude sickness typically starts being a problem at around 8,000 ft. The major attractions at Bryce Canyon National Park are mostly just below that threshold but some also go higher, such as Bryce Point at 8,300 ft and Ponderosa Point which goes all the way up to 8,904 ft.

Therefore, it might be a good idea to take altitude sickness medication if you are prone to suffering.

Another aspect to consider is that Bryce Canyon gets cold at night in fall, winter and spring. We camped at Bryce Canyon for one night in October and it was freezing cold!

Ponderosa Point sign marker in Bryce Canyon showing elevation of 8904 feet
Bryce Canyon viewpoints get way up into the 8900’s!

Zion To Bryce Canyon Road Trip Logistics

Unless you are driving a longer US southwest road trip, the likelihood is that you will fly into Las Vegas before driving to Zion and Bryce Canyon. Here are the best things to do in Las Vegas!

Let’s take a quick look at logistics including driving times and distances from Zion to Bryce Canyon and roundtrips back to Las Vegas.

Las Vegas To Zion National Park

The driving distance from Las Vegas to Zion is 160 miles and will take just over 2 hours and 30 minutes on average. Take I-15 N to exit 16 and follow UT-9 to Springdale for access to Zion National Park.

If you drive this route in a hire car, we highly recommend taking a few hours to stop at the stunning Valley of Fire State Park on the way to Zion if you have the time spare.

Best case scenario is that you stay at one of the best hotels in Vegas before driving to Valley of Fire in time for sunrise.

Head straight to Fire Wave trailhead and hike Fire Wave Trail to watch a magical sunrise in Nevada.

Distance From Zion To Bryce Canyon

The driving distance from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park is 85 miles. You can drive between Springdale near Zion and Bryce Canyon City in a little under 2 hours on average.

Take UT-9, US-89 N and UT-12 E to reach Bryce Canyon from Zion National Park.

There are no significant stops to make on a direct route between Zion and Bryce Canyon, which helps with keeping the road trip itinerary efficient and focused on the two national parks.

Not sure if you want to drive this route in a hire car? Why not take a look at visiting Zion and Bryce Canyon as one of the most popular day trips from Las Vegas?

Unique tunnel like rock formation with orange light glowing and shallow emerald colored pools in The Subway in Zion
One of our favorite photos from Zion is this one we took at The Subway

Can You Drive Through Zion To Get To Bryce Canyon?

Yes, you can drive from Las Vegas through Zion to get to Bryce Canyon by entering Zion’s south entrance in Springdale, taking the Zion-Mt Carmel highway and leaving via Zion’s east entrance, before driving up to Bryce Canyon.

This would be impossible in many popular US national parks but you can drive point to point through Zion. It is the perfect way for anyone who is just passing through the area to see small parts of each park.

Airports To Use For Zion And Bryce Canyon

Which airports should you consider using for your Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip?

Las Vegas Harry Reid airport is the closest major international airport to Zion at 165 miles or 2 hours and 50 minutes. Salt Lake City airport is the next best option at 273 miles or 4 hours and 30 minutes from Zion.

However, there is also regional airport in St. George Utah, which is only 40 miles to the west of Zion and takes just 45 minutes to drive. Domestic US travelers may find St George a more convenient airport option for accessing Zion National Park.

Want to learn more about airports? Here is our guide to the closest airports to Zion National Park for more information.

Sunset over Bryce Canyon with shadows and light contrasting heavily
Heavy light and shadows contrasting at sunset in Bryce Canyon

Helpful Road Trips Planning Resources

Next, let’s take a look at planning resources. We want you to get off to the best possible start with your road trip and it all begins with planning.

Here are the tools we use and recommend:

1. Flights

When searching for flights to Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, we recommend checking prices on both Skyscanner and Google Flights as the two best flight search engines.

Tips to save on flights to Las Vegas or SLC:

  • Shop around and compare prices on several days of the week
  • Use incognito or private browser and clear your cache to see if the price changes
  • Use several devices such as your laptop and smartphone to see if you get different prices
  • Read our guide on how to book cheap flights

2. Hotels

You should have no issues booking accommodation around Zion or Bryce Canyon with the clear exception of hotels near Zion National Park in peak season.

We always use and recommend using Booking.com to book hotels in the US. You might want to compare prices with Hotels.com to see if you can find the best deal.

We will include the best hotel options around both parks based on our experiences later in the guide.

Resource – Our sister site Best Hotels Anywhere is the perfect resource to help you find the best hotels in Las Vegas and Bryce Canyon.

Tips for booking hotels:

  • Book your hotels in advance, especially if planning your Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip in summer
  • Sign up for a free membership account with hotel search platforms like Booking or Hotels to save with membership rewards
  • Try to arrive at Zion during the week to avoid the busier and more expensive weekend prices
  • Read our popular guide on how to book cheap hotels
Sign showing directions to both sunrise and sunset spots in Bryce Canyon national park on a clear day
Sign in Bryce Canyon showing where to go for sunrise and sunset

3. Hire Car

If you are not driving your own car to Utah, you will need to hire a car when you land at Las Vegas or Salt Lake City airport.

Our top recommendation is to find prices with Rental Cars and compare costs against Discover Cars. Input Las Vegas airport and your travel dates to see your options.

They are our go to car hire platforms and we always choose whichever has the better vehicle at the right price point.

Tips for hiring a car:

  • Booking in advance often means you have more flexibility over vehicle type
  • Smaller cars are better for parking in tight spots around the national parks
  • You do not need a 4WD high clearance vehicle to go off road in Zion or Bryce Canyon

Happy with your plans? Read our helpful guide on how to plan a road trip for tips and advice on the best way to prepare for any eventuality.

4. National Parks

It is important to stay up to date with live conditions such as roads, weather, hiking trails and lodging when you visit any of the national parks in Utah.

One of the unsung positives to visiting Utah is that natural disasters, wildfires, flooding and other problematic conditions are rare. Just look at Yellowstone and Yosemite in 2022 or 2023.

With that said, we still recommend keeping on top of the following current status reports:

 

Top Tips For Visiting Zion And Bryce Canyon National Parks

Let’s take a quick look at some important things you should know before planning your Zion and Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary:

  • 1. Both Zion and Bryce Canyon can become extremely busy during peak visiting months between May and September. Zion in particular suffers from severe overcrowding in summer months.
  • 2. Bryce Canyon offers a free shuttle bus service between mid April and late October. Although highly recommended, using this bus service is not compulsory.
  • 3. Conversely, between mid March and November, you must use the shuttle service to access Zion’s Main Canyon. This includes the popular hikes Angels Landing and The Narrows.
  • 4. However, you can drive your own vehicle into Zion canyon if you visit Zion National Park in Winter between December and mid March. 
  • 5. Parking your car in a free parking spot at Zion visitor center between March and November is extremely challenging.
  • 6. Arrive to Zion visitor center early to avoid paying excessively for a parking space in Springdale. We can’t stress enough the importance of arriving early at Zion.
  • 7. You will benefit greatly from early starts at both Zion and Bryce Canyon to beat the crowds and heat.

Need help planning your trip to Zion?

Our popular Zion travel guidebook helps you with planning every aspect of your visit, including the unmissable hikes, where to eat and stay, itinerary ideas and map!

View Zion Guidebook
Where Are Those Morgans Zion travel guidebook
Angels Landing in Zion at sunrise with no hikers on the trail one of the best things to do on a zion to bryce canyon road trip
We took this amazing photo of Angels Landing at sunrise when we were the only two hikers on the trail

Hiking On Your Zion To Bryce Canyon Road Trip

Before we get into our Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary ideas, we will briefly explain about hiking and photography in both parks.

The Bryce Canyon portion of your road trip has no issues with hiking or permits. But Zion is a little more complex and you need to be organized.

Zion is easily one of the best places to visit in the US for those who love to take on unique trails, but you must be aware that permits are required to hike certain trails in the park.

Which Zion Hikes Require Permits?

You will need to obtain a permit for the following hikes in Zion:

Here are the NPS sites you need for obtaining permits:

You do not need permits to hike any other trail in any of Zion’s three regions. But we strongly recommend you apply for Zion hiking permits for Angels Landing as soon as you know your dates of travel.

Remember, you do not need a permit to hike The Narrows bottom up which is the most popular way to hike it.

Our popular hiking resources:

Bryce Canyon amphitheater at sunrise burning red stunning photo spot on a zion to bryce canyon road trip
Sunrise over Bryce Canyon amphitheater is unmissable

Best Photo Spots On Your Zion To Bryce Canyon Road Trip

Photography is a much easier aspect to plan on your road trip from Zion to Bryce Canyon because there are no permits to obtain.

Here are our favorite photo spots in Zion:

Here are our favorite photo spots in Bryce Canyon:

  • 1. Bryce amphitheater at both sunrise and sunset (sunrise is best)
  • 2. Wall Street
  • 3. Switchbacks leading into the amphitheater
  • 4. Bryce Point
Hikers taking a selfie on a sandstone hiking trail in Utah
Mark and Kristen hiking Queens Garden Navajo Loop in Bryce Canyon

Zion To Bryce Canyon Road Trip Itinerary Ideas

Now you know the important information, let’s make a start on our Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary ideas.

It is almost impossible to make a one size fits all itinerary for Zion because it is so heavily influenced by hiking. Not everyone is in Zion to take on Angels Landing after all.

Bryce Canyon has a relatively linear itinerary because there are only so many things you can do and none of them take all day like hiking The Narrows or The Subway in Zion.

We will walk you through itinerary ideas for 2, 3 and 4 days with maps.

At the start of each itinerary we will list summarized options to cover most visitors but we will then go deeper into how we would personally drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon in each timeframe.

Let’s get started!

Zion Outfitter building in Zion at sunrise to pick up waterproofs for hiking the narrows
Zion Outfitter is where you need to hire waterproofs for hiking The Narrows

2 Days Zion To Bryce Canyon Road Trip Itinerary

With 2 days we think you can see the major highlights of both Zion and Bryce Canyon and have some flexibility over how you split your time. However, you will be limited with hiking.

General sightseers and photographers could choose to spend one day in Zion and one day in Bryce Canyon. Whereas hikers could do one and a half days in Zion with just a few hours in Bryce Canyon.

Here is a summarized way you could spend 2 days in Zion and Bryce Canyon:

Day 1 – Zion

Either:

  • Hike The Narrows all day
  • Spend half a day hiking Angels Landing and half a day hiking The Narrows
  • Hike Angels Landing, followed by Emerald Pools, Pa’rus Trail, Watchman and Canyon Overlook
  • Day hike The Subway bottom up
  • Spend the day in Kolob Canyons

Whichever option you choose, drive to Bryce Canyon later in the day and stay in a hotel or campground.

Day 2 – Bryce Canyon

  • Wake up to watch sunrise over the amphitheater
  • Hike Queens Garden Navajo Loop
  • Drive Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive and stop at each viewpoint
  • Watch sunset over Bryce amphitheater

How We Would Do 2 Days In Zion And Bryce Canyon

Click or touch the map above to activate. Zoom in and out, scroll around and see the major attractions as well as the 2 day route we will discuss below.

Armed with the knowledge we have of the area, here is how we would do a 2 day Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip if it were our first time as enthusiastic hikers and photographers:

  • Reserve a permit (in advance) to hike Angels Landing before 9.00am.
  • Wake up before sunrise and hike to Scout Lookout ready for Angels Landing as the sun is rising.
  • Descend Angels Landing and head straight back to Springdale.
  • Pick up waterproof gear and more importantly a walking pole from Zion Outfitter.
  • Head to Temple of Sinawava on the shuttle and hike The Narrows for a few hours.
  • Grab an early dinner back in Springdale.
  • Drive through Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel and park to hike Zion Canyon Overlook for sunset.
  • Drive to Bryce Canyon and stay in a hotel.
  • Wake up to photograph a stunning sunrise over Bryce amphitheater.
  • Hike Queens Garden Navajo Loop trail before driving to every viewpoint in Bryce Canyon.
  • Watch sunset over Bryce amphitheater and maybe stay for stars if time allows.
Infographic showing the perfect 3 day zion to bryce canyon road trip itinerary
Example of a fantastic 3 day Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary

3 Days Zion To Bryce Canyon Road Trip Itinerary

When we first created this guide in 2020 we only listed a 3 day Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary because we think it the optimal amount of time for this particular route.

With 3 days you can slow down enough to enjoy both parks and you have more flexibility over when you drive to Bryce Canyon.

We think 2 days in Zion and 1 day in Bryce Canyon strikes the perfect balance.

However, if you are not a huge hiker you could always go the opposite way and spend 1 day in Zion with 2 days in Bryce Canyon.

Here is a summarized way you could spend 3 days in Zion and Bryce Canyon:

Days 1 and 2 – Zion

Spend both days doing 2 of the following 5 options:

  • Hike The Narrows all day
  • Spend half a day hiking Angels Landing and half a day hiking The Narrows
  • Hike Angels Landing, followed by Emerald Pools, Pa’rus Trail, Watchman and Canyon Overlook
  • Day hike The Subway bottom up
  • Spend a day in Kolob Canyons

Drive to Bryce Canyon the second day in time to watch sunset over Bryce amphitheater.

Day 3 – Bryce Canyon

  • Wake up to watch sunrise over the amphitheater
  • Hike Queens Garden Navajo Loop
  • Drive Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive and stop at each viewpoint
  • Leave when you are ready

How We Would Do 3 Days In Zion And Bryce Canyon

Click or touch the map above to activate. Zoom in and out, scroll around and see the major attractions as well as the 3 day route we will discuss below.

This is the way we saw the best of both Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks during our first visit to the southwestern Utah:

  • Wake up early and get straight into The Narrows hike as far as Big Springs.
  • Grab a late lunch in Springdale before hiking The Watchman for sunset.
  • Wake up before sunrise and hike Angels Landing as the sun is rising (with permit).
  • Hike the family friendly Emerald Pools Trail to all three pools.
  • Get lunch in Springdale before hiking to Canyon Overlook.
  • Stop at Many Pools on the way out of Zion and driving to Bryce Canyon.
  • Watch sunset over Bryce amphitheater and stay out for stars.
  • Wake up to photograph a stunning sunrise over Bryce amphitheater.
  • Hike Queens Garden Navajo Loop trail before driving to every viewpoint in Bryce Canyon.
  • Either do another sunset at Bryce Canyon or leave early to visit another place.
Doorway cut out of sandstone to create a hiking trail in a sunny sandy landscape
Doorway carved out of sandstone on a hike in Bryce Canyon

4 Days Zion To Bryce Canyon Road Trip Itinerary

With 4 days you have so much more freedom and you can take things slowly to really enjoy every aspect of both parks without being rushed. The only downsides are added cost and needing to get more time off work.

You could split down the middle and do 2 days in each of Zion and Bryce Canyon, or you could spend 3 full days hiking in Zion and save your last day for Bryce Canyon.

Personally, we would do the latter and spend 3 days hiking in Zion, before driving over to Bryce Canyon on the third evening for sunset.

Here’s how you could plan a 4 days Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary:

Days 1, 2 and 3 – Zion

Choose 3 of the following 5 options:

  • Hike The Narrows all day
  • Spend half a day hiking Angels Landing and half a day hiking The Narrows
  • Hike Angels Landing, followed by Emerald Pools, Pa’rus Trail, Watchman and Canyon Overlook
  • Day hike The Subway bottom up
  • Spend the day in Kolob Canyons

Drive to Bryce Canyon late afternoon on the third day so you are there in time for sunset.

Day 4 – Bryce Canyon

  • Wake up to watch sunrise over the amphitheater
  • Hike Queens Garden Navajo Loop
  • Drive Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive and stop at each viewpoint
  • Leave when you are ready

How We Would Do 4 Days In Zion And Bryce Canyon

Click or touch the map above to activate. Zoom in and out, scroll around and see the major attractions as well as the 4 day route we will discuss below.

The second time we visited Zion we spent 3 full days in the park. This is how we would do both Zion and Bryce Canyon in 4 days:

  • Wake up early to hike The Narrows
  • Hike to The Watchman for sunset
  • Hike Angels Landing for sunrise (permit)
  • See all 3 Emerald Pools
  • Explore Checkerboard Mesa
  • Walk among the Many Pools
  • Hike Zion Canyon Overlook for sunset
  • Wake up early to hike The Subway (permit required, alternative is to hike Kolob Canyon area)
  • Drive to Bryce Canyon for sunset and grab dinner in Tropic
  • Wake up to watch sunrise over the amphitheater
  • Hike Queens Garden Navajo Loop
  • Drive Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive and stop at each viewpoint
  • Leave in the afternoon for Las Vegas or your next destination

Where To Stay On A Zion To Bryce Canyon Road Trip

One of the most important aspects of planning your Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip is figuring out where to stay each night.

Zion has a better selection of nearby towns and cities for booking hotels when compared to Bryce Canyon. However, Zion is also more popular, so the supply and demand is around the same for both parks.

Springdale, La Verkin, Hurricane, Virgin, Cedar City and even St George could be used for day tripping into Zion National Park. Springdale is the obvious and best choice but the other options are typically cheaper, especially in peak season.

At Bryce Canyon, you have Bryce Canyon City and Tropic as your two major locations for booking hotels. There are alternatives but we would go with one of those two places if possible.

Here are our resources if you would like to learn more:

Best Hotels Near Zion National Park

Here are three excellent hotels in Springdale (next to Zion) with links so you can check prices:

Best Hotels Near Bryce Canyon National Park

Here are three popular hotels in Bryce Canyon City and Tropic (near Bryce Canyon) with links so you can check prices:

Sunrise over sandstone mountains from a hotel at dawn
Sunrise over Zion from our hotel in Springdale

Where Have We Stayed?

Our first visit to Zion and Bryce Canyon was during a long 3 month western US road trip. We were booking hotels last minute to keep the itinerary open and flexible.

The negative side to traveling that way is that hotel rooms get booked up or they are expensive last minute. These days we try to book flights and hotels in advance to avoid overpaying.

So the first time we visited Zion, we ended up spending one night at La Quinta in La Verkin and another night at Sleep Inn and Suites in Hurricane. Both places are around 20 miles from Zion which isn’t the end of the world but it isn’t convenient either.

Around Bryce Canyon we have stayed at 2 hotels. One was the fantastic Bryce Canyon Log Cabins in Tropic where we had a superb night sleep and the other was a super low budget Rodeway Inn motel on the road between Zion and Bryce Canyon.

The second time we visited Zion in December, hotels in Springdale had plenty of rooms available at affordable price points so we stayed at the highly rated SpringHill Suites.

Lower prices at hotels in Springdale is one of the major benefits to visiting Zion in Winter.

Person cooking food on a small gas stove at a bench in Bryce Canyon campground on a sunny day
Mark cooking up a storm at the campground in Bryce Canyon

Camping At Zion And Bryce Canyon

If you can’t find any hotel availability or prices are too high, why not try camping at Zion and Bryce Canyon instead?

The downside of camping at both Zion and Bryce Canyon is that both parks sell out of their advanced reservations within minutes of sites going on sale. You need to be online ready to hit book at the exact time the sites open.

However, last minute bookings are possible in the off season.

We managed to get a campground spot at both Zion and Bryce Canyon the first time we visited Utah in October. The evenings and mornings were very cold but it was so convenient and cost effective.

Kristen wasn’t happy when Mark decided to boil potatoes for a classic British dish of bangers, mash and beans in Zion’s Watchman campground after we had hiked The Narrows for 8 hours!

Let’s take a quick look at the information you need to know about camping in both Zion and Bryce Canyon.

Zion National Park Campgrounds

Watchman and South campground are your two main camping choices if you want to be near the main Zion canyon.

Campground sites are notoriously difficult to get a spot at Zion, you will need to be organized!

Check prices and availability for:

Bryce Canyon National Park Campgrounds

Booking a camping site at Bryce Canyon is less stressful than at Zion but still requires some organization.

You can camp at either Sunset or North campground inside the park boundary.

Check prices and availability for:

Camping Special

Are you planning to camp at Zion or Bryce Canyon?

We have teamed up with The Dyrt to offer our readers an exclusive no strings attached 30 day free trial with The Dyrt PRO.

You can take advantage of several useful benefits for your Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip, including no booking fees and locations for free dispersed camping around the parks.

However, the best part is a fantastic new feature called Dyrt Alerts which allows you to receive notifications when sold out campgrounds have cancellations so you can snag near-impossible spots. This could be a game changer if you can’t find a campsite at either Zion or Bryce Canyon.

Healthy meal of potatoes chicken and salad on a tray in Utah
Mark’s healthy dinner at Camp Outpost in Springdale near Zion

Where To Eat At Both Parks

What are the best places to eat when you are in Zion and Bryce Canyon?

Zion has a far greater choice of dining options and cuisines. The small town of Springdale on Zion’s doorstep is filled with convenient places to eat and most stay open even through winter.

However, you will have to jump in the car and drive out of Bryce Canyon to eat at quality restaurants in the area such as Tropic. In addition, certain restaurants close for the winter season around Bryce Canyon.

Let’s take a look a handful of our favorite restaurants near each park.

Restaurants Near Zion

Here are some of the top rated places you can check out for coffee, breakfast, lunch and dinner in Springdale near Zion National Park:

Restaurants Near Bryce Canyon

Here are some of the top rated places you can check out for coffee, breakfast, lunch and dinner close to Bryce Canyon National Park:

Couple sat on a bench in Bryce Canyon waiting for the sun to set
Mark and Kristen waiting for sunset on a cold October evening in Bryce Canyon

Best Time To Visit The Parks

When should you plan your Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip around weather, costs, crowds and activities?

If you have control and flexibility over your days and months for visiting these popular Utah parks, we would suggest planning your Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary during the week in spring, fall or winter.

Yes, we know that is a large window!

To narrow it down, we think fall is the best time of year to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon based on our experiences.

You can read our in depth guide on the best time to visit Zion National Park by month and season, but we will also summarize below.

Seasons

Families may want to plan this road trip during the school holidays in summer but our advice is to avoid July and August in Zion and Bryce Canyon at all costs. It is hot, overcrowded and excessively expensive.

Spring can be awkward because The Narrows and The Subway can be subject to closures due to flooding. Whereas the fall season is a perfect time to visit for hiking.

We have visited Zion in October and December, and there was a very clear difference in tourist numbers from late fall to early winter. We shudder to think what Zion would be like in summer!

Bryce Canyon in October was perfectly fine for tourist numbers. December would be very cold in Bryce Canyon because it is at such high elevation, but it would be stunning covered in a light layer of snow.

Weekdays

Plan your road trip around avoiding Zion at the weekend if at all possible. Even if your first day is a Sunday, you should go to Bryce Canyon first and then double back to Zion on the Monday.

Holiday weekends are the worst time of year to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon. They will be out of control busy and you will not enjoy your road trip!

In an ideal world, you would drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the middle of October to benefit from the perfect balance of costs, crowds and weather.

Hiker in full waterproofs in The Narrows of Zion national park
Kristen in full waterproofs with thin layers when hiking The Narrows

Zion To Bryce Canyon Road Trip Packing

Packing for your Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip will depend on what you plan to do and what time of year you decide to visit.

Our two trips to Utah have been in the months of October and December. Both times we packed for cold mornings and cold evenings but warmer days, especially when hiking. The key is layers!

If you plan your road trip for summer you can expect hot days so your packing list will look very different. Take plenty of shorts, t-shirts and socks in case you need to wear more than one per day.

You will likely be taking on multiple hiking trails in Zion, so our guide to the best things to bring on a day hike may come in handy when packing.

Remember, you will get soaking wet in The Narrows so you may even need one entire extra outfit.

Are you planning to visit more of the Mighty 5 national parks? The number one item you should pack is an America the Beautiful Pass (see below) because you will save money.

Here is a basic road trip packing list to get you started:

We recommend reading through our complete road trip packing list to make sure you have everything you will need for your Utah road trip.

Planning a long term trip? You might also like to read through our long term travel packing list which covers almost every type of packing scenario.

What Else Is Nearby?

You are planning to visit the American southwest, one of the best parts of the country to explore unique landscapes, discover national monuments and hike adventurous trails.

There are so many places you can include on your road trip, so let’s take a look at some of the best:

Mask shaped sandstone formation in a national park in Utah with clear deep blue sky
Sandstone formation shaped like a mask in Bryce Canyon

Zion To Bryce Canyon Road Trip FAQ’s

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most frequently asked questions about driving the Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip route.

How many days do you need to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon?

You need a minimum of 2 days and a maximum of 4 days to see the highlights of both Zion and Bryce Canyon on a first trip to both parks. Serious hikers should include more days but most visitors will find 3 days is the perfect amount of time for this popular road trip route in Utah.

Is the classic Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip worth it?

Yes! We think the Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip is one of the best ways to get a taste for Utah’s famous national parks. You can hike and photograph your way around two spectacular landscapes in just a few days and by the end you will know if Utah is a place you want to explore further.

More Amazing US Road Trips

Want more Utah content? Head over to our Utah Travel Guides to explore the Mighty Five National Parks and beyond.


We hope this Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary helps with planning your trip to southwest Utah!

Please let us know if you have any questions about Zion or Bryce Canyon National Park in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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14 thoughts on “Zion And Bryce Canyon Itinerary: 2, 3 + 4 Days”

  1. Mark and Kristen, what fabulous and thorough descriptions plus a multitude of resources you offer your blog readers. Thank you so much for doing the work, so we don’t have to.

    My friend and I are planning a trip in October to Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon Southern Rim and Valley of Fire ( as you suggest with such difficulty winning the lottery for the Wave), Plus, we want to spend a few days in Sedona.

    We enjoy hiking but in our 70s, we hike less vigorous trails than our energetic spirits would like. I am an amateur photographer and am beyond excited about our up and coming trip.

    Were flying in from Boston and plan to be in the area for about 10-12 days. Any suggestions on where to go first and where to fly in and out of. Of course, we will be renting a car. Any advice you have will be appreciated.

    Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for traveling!

    Reply
    • Hi Ellen, thank you for getting in touch and it sounds like a fantastic trip you have planned. We are more than happy to help! You could do this trip in so many ways but we would suggest flying into Las Vegas and flying out of Phoenix. Start with Valley of Fire on the way to Zion from Las Vegas, then go to Bryce Canyon, before driving through Kanab to Page. The Wave is exceptionally photogenic so definitely try to win a permit (you can do daily lottery 2 days in advance). If not continue to Page for Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon (book this in advance). Next you drive down to South Rim and then Sedona is not too far from the Grand Canyon. After Sedona it is just 2 hours to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. This is the most efficient route for the spots you want to see. You could always do it in reverse as well. October is a great time to do this trip because temperatures are comfortable, hotels have more availability and better rates, and it is less crowded than summer. Hope this helps and you have a wonderful time!

      Reply
  2. I really loved reading your post, quite insightful. I know the amount of time you might have invested in typing all of these. I really hope I get to travel like you.

    Reply
  3. With only a day to do both, it sounds like Zion is a pretty intense hiking area. Would we be better if doing a couple of hikes in Bryce and just grabbing the scenic view points in Zion? For the record we are not hardcore hikers.

    Where would u recommend staying in Bryce?

    Thx!

    Reply
    • Hi Bev, yes if you only have one day it’s a better idea to drive through Zion. Take the shuttle bus into the main Zion canyon just to look around, maybe even hike one of the smaller quicker trails like Emerald Pools. Drive up to the tunnel but park as soon as you get through the other side and hike Zion Canyon Overlook, it’s really short and easy but leads to a fantastic viewpoint. Then you can continue on to Bryce, hike Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop, then watch sunset on the rim and stay at Best Western Plus which has the best hotel rating in Bryce. Hope that helps and have a great trip!

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    • @Mark and Kristen Morgan, thanks for the insight! Looking forward to this trip! We are heading there on our way to Vegas, driving from Alberta. Any pointers on things to see on the way? Coming via Montana

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      • That will be a fantastic drive down! Glacier National Park (although you’ve probably already been and it’s similar to parts of Alberta), Yellowstone and Grand Teton are both well worth driving through even if you don’t have time to stop, SLC is a great city to explore, Bryce Canyon and Zion as we discussed for sure, also try stopping at Valley of Fire state park not far from Las Vegas and hike Fire Wave. Capitol Reef is another nice stop before Bryce if you have extra time, you can then drive the picturesque UT-12 to Bryce. Even though we’ve done all those places a few times, talking about it makes us want to go again! Have fun!

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  4. Would it make sense to drive from Vegas to Bryce Canyon just to get the further driving done. So Day 1- Fly to Vegas and drive to Bryce, Day 2- Bryce Canyon and drive to Zion, Day 3- Zion, Day 4- Zion, Day 5- Drive back to Vegas

    Reply
    • Hi Jen – Yes that definitely works, ideally you would arrive into Bryce for sunset, then do sunrise in the amphitheater and spend the day hiking before driving over to Zion. If you can hike Zion Canyon overlook around sunset that would work perfectly. Then you have 2 full days for the main Zion canyon with The Narrows, Angels Landing etc. And if you have time on your way back over to Vegas – drive through Valley of Fire state park and hike Fire Wave. Have a great trip!

      Reply
    • Thanks, Dick – Great recommendation and coincidentally just a week before you left this comment we revisited Zion and spent a full day hiking in Kolob Canyon (and we also got permits for The Subway nearby!). The areas outside of the main Zion canyon are fantastic for getting away from the crowds.

      Reply

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