Saturday, January 16, 2016

Trip Itinerary for Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks

Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are very popular in 2015. Zion was ranked #7, and Bryce Canyon was ranked #14 among the most visited national parks. These two parks are very crowded in peak season due to their relative small sizes. In fact tourists have to take shuttle into Zion in summer. Because of this, we visited these two parks this winter in the last week of 2015.

As our visit to Arches and Canyonlands national parks in winter of 2014, It turned out to be a great time to see the spectacular vista there without a crowd, and to enjoy the mountains and intriguing  rock formations under the Sun without heat, though it was very cold at Bryce Canyon. We stayed 3 nights each at Zion and Bryce Canyon, explored and enjoyed both parks thoroughly.

Must haves for the winter trip - sunscreen, dark glasses, hiking boots, winter clothes

Day 1 Fly to Las Vegas from DFW

Late morning flight, arrived at noon time due to 2 hour time difference
Walked the strip after dinner
Watched Penn and Tyler Magic Show at night at Rio Casino and Resort.
Stayed at Treasure Island on Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas' Night

Day 2 Zion National Park

Drive to Zion (Springdale) in the morning , I-15 north – 163mile, 2hour40minutes
Arrived at Zion around noon, grocery shopping and lunch
Drive along scenic drive in Zion - stop along the way at vistas (partial)
Hiked Emerald pool trail and Hiked part of west rim trail
Hiked on Watchman trail to see Sunset
Dinner at Wildcat Willies

Zion Canyon

Day 3 Zion National Park

Hiking on Observation Point Trail/Picnic Lunch (5 hour)
Continue Scenic Drive from Weeping Rock
Hiked on River Side Walk (Temple of Sinawama)
Dinner at Spotty Dog Cafe

On Observation Point Hiking Trail

Day 4 Zion National Park

Hiking to Canyon Overlook Point on the east side of the park ( 1 hour)
Hiking to Hidden Canyon ( part of the trail has chains due to long drop off/danger)
return to hotel early (~ 4pm) to rest 
Dinner  - take-out from Thai Sapa

Canyon Overlook

Day 5 Bryce Canyon National Park

Drove to Bryce Cannyon from Zion in the morning (8am) along Utah 9/89/12) - 85 miles, 2 hour
Stopped at Check board Mesa on the way (inside Zion)
Arrived at Bryce Canyon at noon, Stopped at visitor center, watched park video 
Drive on the scenic drive all the way to the end (rainbow point), hiked a short trail Bristlestone Loop
Drive backward toward entrance stop at vistas, watch sunset at Sunset point
Dinner in the hotel room - instant noodle (!)

hindsight rainbow point would be good starting point for snowshoeing on lower canyon rim trail
there was only one restaurant open at Bryce Canyon city in winter - Best western hotel's - Ruby's inn 

Bristlestone Trail near Rain Bow Point

Day 6 Bryce Canyon National Park

Cross Country Ski in the morning 
Hiking on Queens Garden/Navajo combined trail loop - A MUST!

Cross Country Ski

Inside Bryce Canyon - Queens Garden

Cross Country Ski rental at Best Western Winter activirty center (Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill building)
Crampon on hiking boots are recommended for hiking on icy or packed snowy trails
Cross Country Ski or snowshoeing trail head are not well marked - start point 1  - in front of the building beyond the ice rink; starting point 2  - back of the left handside (east) of the building - follow the trail to trail head

Day 7 Bryce Canyon National Park

Watch Sunrise at Sunrise or Sunset point (check sunrise time the day before)
Hiking on Fairyland loop trail (8 mile) - starting from trail head near sunrise point
    - snowshoed for 5.45miles, hiked the remaining portion carrying the snowshoes
Star gazing at Sunset point after dinner - marvelous ! 

Snowshoeing on Fairland trail

It was not a good day for snowshoeing since the last snow was 8 days ago; better snowshoeing trail at this time should be lower rim trail at rainbow point

Day 8 Going home

Drive from Bryce Canyon to Las Vegas (late afternoon flight)

Stopped at Zion's Kolob Canyon branch
Lunched Rio Casino (KJ Kim Dimsum)
Walked lower portion of the Strip - Luxor, NewYork/NewYork
Fly home

Luxor - Sphinx 

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