Ultimate Utah: Bryce and Zion

In southern Utah there are several national parks and Utah State Parks. We recently visited Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, two of the more famous Utah areas. Turn east off of I-15 onto Highway US 20, it is about an hour drive to Bryce Canyon.

On the way to Bryce, you will drive through the town of Panguitch on US 89. It is a quaint small town with an abundance of motels for Bryce Canyon tourists. It has a good grocery store and the cheapest gas for miles—fill your tank there! You will go through a beautiful pass between Panguitch and Bryce Canyon, complete with rock formation tunnels. There is a well maintained walking/biking path that goes from Hwy 12 all the way the Bryce Canyon City. I think it is 23+ miles long.

We stayed at Bryce Canyon City which has motels and RV parks. We checked into Ruby’s Inn RV Park about a mile from the national park. We had pull through parking and spacious lots with grass and new picnic tables. The showers and restrooms are clean and well cared for. The rates were reasonable.

We used our National Parks Senior pass which can be purchased easily. The Senior pass is currently $10, that price will raise to $80 in 2018. So get your pass as soon as possible! You can catch the shuttle at the Sinclair station which has ample parking for all sized rigs. We were able to get on the bus at the RV park.

As with many national parks, there is a bus system in place. Each person must pay to enter the park but the bus is free. The shuttles only run in the most popular part of the park, the remainder of the park can be seen by signing up for the extended Rainbow tour. You must make reservations but the tour is also free.

Since the shuttle is a hop on-hop off situation the first stop should be the Visitor’s Center. See the movie that explains what you will see and how the terrain was formed. Learn what a hoodoo is and what amenities the park provides. Every stop is at a different amphitheater of rock formations. Visitors are allowed to hike down in most areas. Because of the heat and altitude be sure to stay hydrated!

The park has a beautiful a historical lodge built in 1924 which has a lovely restaurant. The menu has elk chili, bison stew (which was delicious!), trout and bison burgers. Of course there is the usual salads and burgers also to choose from.

We took our ATV with us on this trip. The concierge stated there was over 40 miles of scenery with marked trails. We spent an entire day exploring and found several mountain top vistas. The Tropic Reservoir is a lovely place to picnic, swim and let the dog explore. We enjoyed that day immensely.

We drove the hour+ to Zion National Park which also has a nice bus system. Since our friends had their dog in tow we drove through the park. The landscape at Bryce and Zion are very different. We noted that Bryce is usually seen at a distance and Zion’s scenery is close to the road.

We drove to the west entrance and had a picnic. There is a nice market, a variety of shops and even a coffee bar! I admit that we saw only a small part of Zion that day because we have seen most of it on other trips. Please know it is worth several days of your time. The park offers rock climbing and a multitude of hiking trails. Zion is a grand National Park that will not disappoint any visitor.

In that area of Utah one can also see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Capital Reef National Park and 3 Utah State Parks. Enjoy the parks they were created for us to enjoy.

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