Recently, I’ve visited Zion National Park but decided to return again for to explore it a bit further. National Parks are some of my favorite places to visit year round. If you’ve read my post about The Grand and Antelope Canyons in Arizona. I mentioned at the very end of the post how I wished I got to spend more time in Zion Nation Park so that’s what I did. Last week I spontaneously bought a ticket to visit a friend living in Las Vegas. We took a weekday trip to Utah where we pitched a tent and camped in Zion and Bryce Canyon. Chillier than expected, but camping gave us much more time to spend in and around the parks. As they were last minute, we were actually lucky enough to reserve a last minute campsite that someone had canceled at Watchman campgrounds inside Zion National Park. Campsites at Watchman campground range from $20-$30(electricity) and must be reserved. Group sites cost $50 plus depending on the size. There are 2 other campgrounds there (South & Lava Point) that is on a first come first reserve basis.
Zion is a beautiful national park. The fee to get in is $30(good for 7 days) and most people tend to enter through the Springdale entrance. However, my favorite entrance is through the other route which you’d only drive through if you’re coming from Arizona or East of Zion. That entrance is very grand as you’ll be driving around the mountains through tunnels and hairpin turns through the canyon. We ended up getting an annual pass for $80. It was well worth it since Bryce Canyon, which is only an hour drive away, entrance’s fee is $30. On the way back, we had to drive through Zion once again to return to Las Vegas which would’ve cost us another $30 had we not bought the annual pass.
There are several trails at Zion ranging from easy(Emerald Pools) to very hard(Angels Landing). Bring your hiking shoes and lots of water! Luckily there is a great shuttle system inside the park to take to the starting point of these hikes as parking tends to overcrowd. The bus runs from the visitor center to 8 other points inside the park and is totally free! The only trail that the bus does not stop at is the Canyon Overlook(picture above). This trail begins at or after the tunnel depending on which direction you’re driving. There are very few parking spaces(about 20), so if you find one, consider yourself lucky!
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce National Park isn’t too far away from Zion but striking different. The hoodoos at Bryce and Dixie National Forest reflect a unique type of erosion known as frost wedging. Snow and freezing rain seep through the cracks and expands as it freezes in the winter. This pries open the cracks and over time form these hoodoos. In addition to frost wedging, the rain also sculpts the hoodoos by rounding out the edges and washes away debris. The rock formations at Bryce Canyon is in a beautiful shade of orange and red.
Camping at Bryce Canyon National Park is a first come first reserve basis. The do not take reservations, and payment can only be made in cash or checks. The campsites range from $20-$30 but with no electricity unlike the Watchman’s campground at Zion. Generators for RVs are allowed but only in loop A sites ($30). Luckily there is an ATM in the lobby of the Lodge inside the park. Showers are available unlike at Zion at the general store which is also inside the park. Don’t get it confused with the store outside the park. Showers are $3/8mins and there is hot water. Towels and basic toiletries are not provided. The nights are cold there when we went in late mid-late April (30-40s F). We were glad to have brought wood, fire starters and matches to make a cozy campfire and roast marshmallows at night. The groceries around Zion and Bryce are very pricey! If possible, I’d recommend buying things before you head out.