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Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

Centereach, New York
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Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

Hi,

My husband, I and another couple are flying into Vegas on March 14th immediately renting a car and driving to Bryce. We're spending 2 nights at Bryce Canyon Grand hotel, two nights Best Western Zion Park Inn and then heading back to Vegas for 4 nights. If possible,we don't want to drive the same route in both directions. We plan to take rte. 89 to rte.9 to travel from Bryce to Zion. What route do you recommend from Las Vegas to Bryce? Are these roads ever closed that time of year? How has this winter been so far i.e a lot of snow? I haven't researched Zion yet but I'm worried that 1 1/2 days might be too much time at Bryce because I've read that many of the trails are closed to hiking in winter. I should add that my group ranges in age from 50 to 65 and we're all in reasonable shape.

Thanks for your input.

Kipling. SK
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1. Re: Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

The quickest route to Bryce would be I-15 to SR20 to US89 and on over to SR12. A slower but more scenic route would be I-15 to SR14 to US89, then over to SR12. Note that the second route goes over Markagunt plateau, so there is parts of the hwy on SR 14 that travel over 10000 feet, so watch weather as you go.Highways in this area are cleared after a snowfall. SR 14 may only be cleared during daylight hours, but it is cleared, because there is a community along that stretch.

Unless you want to rent snowshoes or skis, yes, 11.5 days may be a lot for Bryce. There has not been a lot of snow this year in the area from the research I have done, but even then the less travelled trails in the park may not be distinguishable if no one has travelled them.In winter, I do not see any problem in spending a day at Bryce. Look for the scenic drive and Bristlecone loop. Make sure to hike the Navajo to Queens Garden Combo at the main amphitheatre. Visit the visitor center, and browse the general store at Rubys Inn. If you are looking for something else to fill a half day, I will recommend driving east along SR 12, which is a scenic byway. Zion absolutely has more hiking options than Bryce. With the couple of nights you have, you can probably satisfy your siteseeing in the main canyon. On the way from Bryce to Zion, look for Canyon Overlook trail on SR 9. It is located after the first short tunnel as you are going west. Look for the parking at /as you reach the mouth of the second mile long tunnel. Info on hiking can be found on www.zionnational-park.com. Look for the hiking tab. Any further questions, just ask the forum.

Ohio, USA
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2. Re: Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

Welcome to the forum, Eve603.

Great advice from Widmarsh. As mentioned, you can make a loop route (actually a lollipop) taking I-15 to route 20, 89 and 12 to Bryce (or I-15, route 14 to 89 to 12 or maybe even I-15 to 14, 148, 143, 89, 12...but these later routes could be snow impaired as Widmarsh stated). Then from Bryce to Zion along route 12 to 89 south and route 9. Beautiful scenery all along these routes.

As for Bryce Canyon, you can probably get a way with one night there, provided you are arriving at BC early enough. If you have a flight that arrives in LV in the morning you should get to BC in time to enjoy sunset (it is about a 4 hour drive along most direct route (I-15, routes 20-89-12). Sunset and sunrise, along with the starry night skies are highlights in Bryce Canyon. So you could add a day to Zion. But I really like Widmarsh's suggestion of using some of the time while in BC to explore along route 12. That is an amazing drive and has a lot to offer in terms of scenery and hiking. Here's a little more info on route 12:

http://www.scenicbyway12.com/

Kipling. SK
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3. Re: Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

Thanks Ohiohick.

The route SR148 into Cedar Breaks should be closed in March, unless you have a snowmobile.

Centereach, New York
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4. Re: Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

Thank you both so much for your input.

Our plane arrives in LV at 9:30am so I am now considering a stop at the Kolub section of Zion on the way to BC and taking the more scenic route weather permitting.

Plan on doing the hikes that WidmarshSK recommends in BC and stopping at Canyon Overlook Trail.

Would you recommend a stop at Red Canyon on the way to Zion as well? The NP website recommends traction devices for our hiking boots... necessary?

I was going to ask you how far east of BC along SR12 would you recommend traveling before turning around until I checked out that awesome website that Ohiohick recommended?

I've begun looking into Zion. With the right equipment and weather permitting I'd LOVE to walk up the Narrows. How far in do you think I would need to go to get a true feel for it? Don't really want to wade for 2 miles. I'd like to get to the point where the walls come close together. I don't want to go deeper than my knees because of the time of year.

I really appreciate your help:)

Las Vegas, Nevada
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5. Re: Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

A lot of the details will depend on the weather. If the trails are icy (as they very well could be), then traction devices for your shoes are a must. As for hiking into the Narrows, that will depend on the amount of snow melt at the time. March is probably early enough to miss it, but the water will definitely be cold. Renting a drysuit from Zion Adventures is a must.

Centereach, New York
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6. Re: Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

Thank you for your response. I found the Zion Adventures website. A treasure trove of information.

Tacoma, Washington
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7. Re: Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

weather nake this very weather dependent.

I-15/UT 20/US 89 involves a high pass so weather will be a factor---but this is a major route for trucks so it will get serviced should it snow.

An alternate route option if weather is an issue would be to go I-70 to Richfield, then to torrey, then down UT 12 to Bryce.

Vegas to richfiled = 4 hrs

richfield to torrey= 1 hr

torrey to Bryce 2.5 hrs in driving only.

The part on UT 12 that is best is the strretch from escalante to boulder. If you drive up from Bryce you can drive up to boulder then turn around.

An option you could do is ....

from Vegas drive up and do Zion/Kolob Canyon and then drive to Bryce or to Richfield/Torrey for one day

day 2 UT 12 drive. If weather permits you could try and get to Ceder breaks.

day 3 Bryce

day 4 Zion

Kipling. SK
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8. Re: Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

You can stop at Red Canyon along the way, but do so if your timing allows. Some people have stated that Red Canyon is like a miniature Bryce Canyon. People have recommended the Pink Ledges trail. I think it is about a mile long.

Traction devices are nice to have with you if you have them. Sometimes you will need them, sometimes not, and will depend on the winter. If you find you need them, you can either buy or possibly rent a pair at Bryce or Zion. Stabilicers and Yaktraks are well known brands. I use Diamond Trekkers myself.

You could travel east along SR12 as far as time permits. It is somewhere around two and a half hours from Bryce to Torrey, one way, without stops. Scenery varies all along the route. While some can say that the stretch from Bryce to Boulder is the most scenic, I was personally the most impressed with the scenery on top of Boulder Mountain, which is between Boulder and Torrey. From the pulloffs along SR 12 on Boulder Mountain, you can see for miles.

How far do you have to go up the narrows to get a feel for it? This question can be debated at length by all those experienced with the Narrows. I personally believe you can get a 'feel' for the narrow canyon walls by simply walking to the end of Riverside Walk. To experience the narrows itself, you need to jump in the water and do some wading. If you want to stay up to your knees, you can go to mystery Falls which isn't far up river, maybe twenty minutes. To get the best of the Narrows, IMO, you would need to go much farther up, to the confluence of the Virgin River with Orderville canyon. There is plenty of info on the Narrows on the Zion forum page. Look for the top questions in the upper right corner of the page once you are there. If you have any further thoughts on the narrows after reading some of those top questions, and also doing a 'search' inquiry of the forums, make sure to ask.

"An alternate route option if weather is an issue is to go I-70 to Richfield, to Torrey, then SR/UT 12 to Bryce" Maybe, but most likely no. UT 12 goes over Boulder Mountain south of Torrey. The hwy peaks out at around 9600 feet if i remember. UDOT does not place a high priority on this stretch, and do not maintain it in the dark because of how narrow it is in parts(I think) Because of the elevation, UT 12 is not an all weather route to Bryce, nor is any other route if the weather is bad enough obviously.

Centereach, New York
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9. Re: Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

Thank you all. I will post again after I've come with a hiking plan for our two and a half days in zion.

Uden, The...
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10. Re: Drive Vegas to Bryce to Zion to Vegas

9600' is correct for Boulder Mountain. It's not a viable detour to Bryce that way imo. Ut12 is scenic all the way but least for the stretch Bryce to Escalante imo.