Sample Itinerary: Vegas to VOF, Zion, Bryce and Beyond

I created this itinerary for our trip that I have outlined over the last couple of weeks here on TB. We ended up adding the Grand Canyon so things shifted a bit but figured this might be helpful to someone else. Listed a couple blogs that I found helpful towards the end.

Happy trip planning!

Day 1 Arrive in VEGAS

Points of Interest :

Bellagio Fountains water show

Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Sky Lobby at the Mandarin Oriental

Outdoor Activities around Vegas – Hot Spring Anyone? ( 5.6 miles RT hike)

Day 2 Head to Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

From Vegas to VOF: 52.1 miles / 53 minutes

*Dog Friendly Park (on leash)

Mainly Short to Moderate Hikes at this park

Scenic Drive : White Domes Road

Hike Options : All Trails,  Fire Wave, Elephant Rock, Natural Arches ( 5 miles RT), The Fire Wave ( not to be confused with ‘The Wave’), Prospect Trail 11 miles RT), The Pinnacles ( (4 miles RT) or loop (7 miles RT loop). )

Camping Options : Arch Rock and Atatl Campground ( first come, first serve)

Exit Park and head NB on I15 toward St. George, Utah

Day 3 Zion National Park, Utah

2 to 3 days?

From VOF to Zion : 133 miles / 2 hr 30 min

On the Way: In Springdale, on the southern tip of Zion, stop at Springdale Fruit Market for gourmet snacks and fresh fruit grown in orchards beside the banks of the Virgin River. Also in Springdale, Zion Canyon Theatre shows Zion Canyon Treasure of the Gods on a giant movie screen.

Drive the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway … easy hikes off road

Hikes :

Angel’s Landing ( 5.4 miles RT) Steneous

Observation Point ( 8 miles RT) Mod to Strenuous

Riverside Walk / The Narrows ( 2.2 miles ) Easy ( walk through water ?)

Permits are not needed for most day hikes within Zion Canyon. Permits are only needed for overnight wilderness camping, the top-down Narrows hike, or a day hike in the Subway.

Weeping Rock Trail — This half-hour hike (round trip) takes you beneath Weeping Rock, a huge sandstone rock formation from which water drips like a gentle rain.

Canyon Overlook Trail — This is an excellent hour-long hike. You’ll get stunning canyon views and pass jagged rock formations. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some goats.

Upper and Lower Emerald Pool trails — The lower trail, which passes beneath a waterfall, is quite nice. Compared with the park’s other hikes, the upper trail is nothing special.

Side Drive: Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive in the far northwest part of the park—a 10-mile round-trip—looks over the edge of the Colorado Plateau into a wilderness landscape laced with deep box canyons.

Oddity: Crawford Arch, also known as Bridge Mountain Arch, is a long, thin, freestanding sandstone arch (156 feet long and 3 feet wide) high on Bridge Mountain. The hike up is long and technical, but you can see the arch from the patio of the Human History Museum, a thousand feet below.

Local Amenities :

  • Groceries, firewood, and ice can be purchased at The Canyon Market or at Sol Foods. The Canyon Market also has some camp kitchen supplies if you forget any cooking necessities.
  • Liquor, beer, and wine can be purchased at the Switchback Liquor Store. It’s a state run liquor store, so it’s closed on Sundays, but the plus side is that they sell full strength (>3.2%) beer.
  • Cafe Soleil is an awesome, funky cafe with local art for sale. They have free wifi, friendly staff, and delicious coffee. The food also looked amazing. I highly recommend the dirty soy chai latte (chai with a shot of espresso)

 Day 6 From Zion to Bryce 73 miles 1hr 20 min

Sunset Point – Best place for sunset

Paria View awesome for afternoon.

Sunrise Point — The Point affords great views of Bryce Amphitheater. On clear days, you can see for miles. Formations visible from here include Boat Mesa and Sinking Ship. .9 mile rim trail

Sunset Point — Aside from taking in the sunset, this point is a great spot for birdwatching. Check out Thor’s Hammer when you’re here.

Natural Bridge — This isn’t really a bridge but a humongous arch carved by erosion.

Queens Garden — This scenic 1.8mile trail takes you into Bryce Amphitheater and passes through numerous rock formations, including one shaped like Britain’s Queen Victoria near the terminus of the trail.

Navajo Trail — The trail, a 1.3-mile loop, is short but steep and descends into Bryce Amphitheater. In the winter, the last part of the loop is closed, so be prepared to backtrack your way out or extend your hike to another trail.

Connect parts of two trails, Queens Garden and Navajo, on a 3.1-mile round-trip that descends into the weirdest of Bryce’s hoodoo geology. The hike back up the Navajo Trail passes through Wall Street, a canyon surrounded by skyscraper spires, from which you can see the park’s iconic formation, top-heavy Thor’s Hammer.

https://www.theoutbound.com/utah/hiking/hike-wall-street-in-bryce-canyon

More details about what to expect and bring for winter camping in Bryce: https://www.theoutbound.com/utah/camping/winter-camping-in-bryce-canyon-national-park

**Shovel/tarp not a bad idea**

Winter Notes :

Canyon trails are open to snowshoers or hikers who use traction devices (available at the park store) on their boots. The park provides snowshoes for ranger-led snowshoe hikes and full-moon hikes throughout the winter.

 Day 8 Bryce to Grand Staircase Escalante : 77.6 / 1 hr 28 min

Hiking :

Lower Calf Creek Falls ( 6 miles RT) easy

Neon Canyon /Golden Cathedral ( 9 miles RT) moderate

Devils Garden

Hole In The Rock

Spooky Gulch Visit in midday for the best sunlight

Coyote Gulch

Antelope Canyon : 6.5 miles heavy traffic out and back. Have to get Navajo guide as it is on a reservation. Better for photography not hiking.

Horseshoe Bend : Easy walk from Parking lot , Sunset is nice

Lower Calf Creek Falls Trailhead

If you are looking for something a little more off-the-beaten-path, one of the really great things about Escalante is that it is managed but Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and there are numerous free campsites scattered throughout the monument. All of these are primitive sites with no facilities or restrooms. You must pack out your trash and the BLM asks that you only camp in already disturbed areas.

 Day 9/10 From Grand Staircase Escalante to Antelope Canyon/Horseshoe Bend /Coyote Buttes ( Page, AZ) 26.4 miles / 35 mins

Extra!

Resources : Girl on a Hike, Bearfoot Theory, My Life is a Movie,

Guide Books : Hiking from here to wow

Gear : Walking Poles? Crampons?, warm clothes, gloves, long underwear and hats, Gaiters, – mentioned above and now just saw this:) but shovel if camping in snow and tarp, def bringing poles and snowshoes, and water “proof”ish hiking boots

Entertainment : Cards, jambox

Brews :

Zion Canyon Brew Pub – at the park entrance

From Bryce to Zion (Springdale, UT)

We woke up to negative degree temps in the morning so none of us were all that interested in getting outside for sunrise!  We did however attempt to make coffee outside on Chelsea’s campstove… not the best idea… apparently propane does not work well under these cold temps. The propane was sputtering out which lead to huge flames. We decided to pack that up, get hotel lobby coffee ( not bad if you take a bite of peanut butter granola bread first) and head to Bryce and the visitor center to learn of any trail closures.brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2134

If you have snowshoes this would be a good place to bring em out, alternatively you can rent them out in town at the hotel/restaurant/store.  Side note : Bryce has the best looking park rangers I have ever seen… not sure why they all ended up in Bryce but it was a nice surprise.  brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2141

Again we started at Sunrise, walked down to Queen’s Garden then to Navajo Trail, side stepped to Wall Street, then on to Peekaboo Loop, Bryce Point and back up to Sunset then across the rim to sunrise.  There were a lot of people around the rim but once you started hiking the trails were pretty desolate.  We ended up hiking for about 6/6.5 miles 4/4.5 hours. Again, layers are a great idea. We got really warm while hiking but once we got into the shadow of a hoodoo it would get chilly.brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2142brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2144brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2145brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2146brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2147brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2148brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2150brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2152brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2153brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2154brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2155brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2157brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2162brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2163brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2166brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2167brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2170brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2171brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2175brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2180

Another day of crampons and hiking poles! Highly reccomend. 100% needed these for the way up sunset! People were slipping and falling left and right.brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2186brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2188brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2190brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2200brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2202brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2204brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2205brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2220

Bryce is 100% one of the most amazing places I have ever been. It is beautiful beyond comprehension. Just looking back through these photos I am shocked that I experienced something so amazing… these aren’t photoshopped. They were taken by me on an iphone it is pretty remarkable.

Once we were done with our hike we decided to head towards Zion so we could start the next morning in Zion. On the way we made guacamole in the car… not the most driver friendly snack! brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2219

No campsites at Watchman Campground in Zion! Every other campground we had been to was empty.. but Zion was fairly warm, somewhere in the 40s, so everyone was out in droves. If coming around new years I would highly reccomend booking ahead or being able to wing it like us!

I won’t get into details… but we ended up having to finish cooking our dinner in a parking lot. Some of the best food I have ever eaten! Once we finished dinner we decided to head into Springdale and try to figure out where to stay.

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Much to our surprise, right outside the park we encountered a shining sign with the words ‘Brew Pub’ – we looked at each other and Chelsea pulled in the parking lot. Our server was really nice and gave us tons of helpful advice. Such as trails we should go on, where to rent our Narrows gear etc. All the beer on tap is less than 4% per Utah law, but for 4% it ain’t half bad!zionnationalparkimg_2223

Our server also told us we could head to the Bit & Spur if we wanted some higher alcohol beers… so off we went and were pleasantly surprised by the local beers we sampled.  zionnationalparkimg_2224zionnationalparkimg_2226

Looking forward to a good nights sleep before a day of exploring Zion. Since we arrived at night we were looking forward to what we would be greeted with upon sunrise.

A trip to close out 2016 and welcome 2017!

I love a good adventure so when two of my friends asked if I was interested in a road trip to Zion/Bryce for New Years I gave a whole hearted yes.  This is our second year doing a road/camping trip for NYE. Last year we went to Joshua Tree and it was amazing but this year we decided to do something a little more exploratory!

Check out our map below and feel free to add and use as you please! 

We began our trip on Christmas Day, December 25  and made it home January 2.

I can’t quite fathom the beauty that we were able to experience but I am excited to share with you what we did so that it might encourage and spur you on to take your own trip. These places are magical in the winter, still fairly crowded, but if you go far enough on a trail you will find that it is much more desolate than the rim or valley.

Here are a few pics to wet your appetite and get you ready for the posts to come. I plan on breaking down each day so you can get an idea of our road trip itinerary and how we made our trip awesome.

A little planning and lot of ‘be here now’ moments made for a trip that has impacted my life and also has encouraged me to live life outside more this year. My mind, body and soul crave the outdoors and I feel so fueled and ready to kick start my 2017.

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Trip Planning over beers at Historic Brewing in Williams, Az
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A view of the Canyon while hiking the Bright Angel Trail.
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Photo of Navajo Nation Flag by Chelsea Thomas
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Parking Lot Party
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Horseshoe Bend… more magical than all the insta posts!
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Off road slot canyon adventure
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Sunset at Bryce Canyon
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Zion National Park

Pretty special, right?!