The following itinerary only scratches the surface of what there is to see, but with this sampler, you’ll know where to focus your adventure.

Day 1

If you fly into Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, you’ll probably get to Zion National Park sometime in the late afternoon. Settle into your motel in Springdale and head into the park to check out the visitors center and take a ride up Zion Canyon on the park shuttle bus. Hop off for views of the Court of the Patriarchs and to take an easy hike up the Riverside Walk.

Shadows make a sharp line halfway up the steep peaks of the Court of the Patriarchs in Zion National Park.

Court of the Patriarchs in Zion National Park. Photo © Robert Crum/123rf.

Day 2

Hike up the West Rim Trail to Angels Landing, or hike the Emerald Pools trails for something a bit easier going. Visit Springdale’s galleries in the afternoon. End the day with an early evening hike up the Watchman Trail.

Trail map of West Rim Trail to Angels Landing in Utah

West Rim Trail to Angels Landing

Alternatively, if weather permits and you’re an experienced hiker and swimmer, hike the Riverside Trail into the Narrows. After a full day of river hiking, enjoy dinner in Springdale.

Day 3

Head east out of the park via the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway (Hwy. 9); turn north onto U.S. 89 and east onto Highway 12 to reach Bryce Canyon National Park (84 miles from Zion). Park the car and spend the day riding the park shuttle to vista points and exploring hoodoos from trailheads along the road. Camp in the park, or stay at the historic park lodge or one of the motels just outside the park entrance.

Thor's Hammer, a large hoodoo, bathed in early morning light.

Thor’s Hammer at sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo © Pierre Leclerc/123rf.

With More Time

If you’re driving from Bryce back to Las Vegas, leave time for a stop in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park. It’s just off I-15 south of Cedar City. This is a little out of the way for Salt Lake City-bound travelers, who may want to take time to visit Red Canyon, which is just a few miles outside of Bryce’s entrance.

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Zion & Bryce.