As well as Zion National Park, we also visited Bryce Canyon en route from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas as part of our USA Road Trip. Bryce Canyon made for a fairly long detour on our drive from the Grand Canyon to Zion, but it was well worth the effort. From the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, it takes a couple of hours to drive to Zion, or slightly longer to drive to Bryce, and it takes a couple of hours to drive between Zion and Bryce. So with an early start it should be possible to leave the North Rim, drive to Bryce Canyon, fit in a short hike, and drive to Zion by the evening. That’s not quite what we did – we’d spent the morning at the Grand Canyon, then drove to Bryce in the afternoon and camped near (but not in) the park. Then we did one of the Bryce Canyon hikes the following morning before an afternoon drive to Zion where we arrived in time for an evening hike there too!
Bryce Canyon isn’t actually a canyon, technically speaking, but rather a set of large amphitheatres in which stand thousands of mysterious rock formations called hoodoos. Actually, they’re not all that mysterious – they are the product of well-understood geological processes – but they do have an enigmatic appearance, standing there in fantastic rows of pink and orange rock. There’s a wide choice of Bryce Canyon hikes you can do, ranging from quick one or two hour jobs up to multi-day affairs requiring hiking permits. There’s a well-maintained and paved rim trail that you can follow for a few miles with various spectacular viewpoints, and a number of trails descending from the rim and passing between the rock formations below. We only had a few hours at Bryce Canyon, so we took in the main viewpoints on the trail rim and then did the Navajo Loop trail. It’s a great little hike, and though it’s nothing too strenuous there is a steep climb back up to the rim via a series of switchbacks. For more info on the trails at Bryce, see here & here.
Bryce Canyon, Zion NP, southern Utah generally, and really the whole of the southwestern US are just incredible places. The scenery is nothing short of astonishing and it’s an incredible region to drive through. For the outdoor enthusiast there are so many options, from short hikes on maintained trails in the national parks to serious multi-day backcountry treks, a person could never exhaust the opportunities for adventure. And I have never seen the night sky so full of stars as I did in Utah – lying back in a camping chair with a cold beer after a pleasant hike and looking up at the tapestry above is pretty hard to beat!
Have you done any Bryce Canyon hikes? How were they? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.
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