Utah’s Zion and Bryce Canyon: Otherworldly Landscapes Await
By Meimei Wu
Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park are not far from the international gateways of Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Located in southwest Utah, they are two of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks and must-visit sites for travelers. After visiting these two internationally renowned parks, I realized what it truly is to experience nature.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is huge and there are many popular scenic spots. You can’t do it all in one day, but they do have free buses to take you to each scenic spot, and you can hop on and off at your convenience.
The Narrows is a favorite for hikers. Walking in the Virgin River, listening to the sound of the stream and birds, and seeing the fine stones in the water and the great valley made me feel Mother Nature’s greatness. The Angels Landing trail is another of the most famous and exciting trails for many tourists because of the incredible panoramic view you’re rewarded with after ascending the trail. The Weeping Rock trail is a popular walk for families and offers a different view of the scenery. Another family-friendly option is the Lower Emerald Pool trail, which has a nice waterfall view.
Snow Canyon State Park
Not far from Zion National Park, Snow Canyon State Park is very popular too. Though this side trip isn’t on the way to Bryce Canyon, if you happen to have extra time in your itinerary, Snow Canyon is a fun family stop. There are both walking trails and driving tours, and the park has several parking lots for convenience. The Sand Dunes trail is a children's favorite – a short hike that ends with sand dunes where kids can play in the sand.
Scenic Byway 12: Utah’s All-American Road
Finally on my way to Bryce Canyon, I drive through some amazing rock arches on Scenic Byway 12 and take in the beauty of the surrounding Dixie National Forest and Red Canyon. The Scenic Byway 12 is an easy and quiet road with a beautiful landscape, which makes for a comfortable drive from park to park.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park’s red, orange and white rock forms a unique scene, like a palace of natural stone figurines, known as hoodoos. The view of the limestone pillars, which range from heights of an average human to a 10-story building, is like nothing you’ve ever seen. There are many trails to choose from, whether you’re hiking or on horseback.
I chose the Navajo Loop Trail to see the sunrise. Winding through slot canyons and among the hoodoos, this was a most unforgettable experience, as each step into the canyon evoked a different emotion.
Lodging Available Near Both Parks
Not far from Zion and Bryce National Park, you’ll find a wide variety of lodging options from national hotel chains to smaller family-owned properties. They are very convenient and comfortable, have beautiful scenery and complete facilities.
Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park are full of rich and colorful outdoor explorations, and attract many tourists every year. You should be one of them! Come and explore these two big parks – and everything in between!