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  1. Default Looking for advice on trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon NP

    Hello,

    We are a family with 2 small kids (5 year and 4 months) and are looking to get some advice on a trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon NP from San Diego over this coming Memorial Day long weekend.

    Really appreciate all the help from everyone on this helpful forum. We are planning to stay at Hurricane for 3 nights and plan to cover Zion and Bryce as day trips.

    1- Does it sound reasonable to cover Zion as well as Bryce Canyon in about 2.5 days that we will get? It seems Hurricane to Zion is about 30 minutes drive and Hurricane to Bryce is about 2 hours drive.

    2- What would be the scenic drive route that we should take from Hurricane to Zion and Hurricane to Bryce.

    3- Any specific ideas on planning our day at Zion and Bryce especially with 2 kids.

    4- Traffic from Vegas towards I15 South is going to be really bad on the Memorial day. I am guessing it would be better for us to avoid 11am-5pm window. Any recommendations on this would be helpful. I would rather avoid heavy traffic and stay in Vegas for one night on Monday and start really early morning towards San Diego

    Thanks,
    Trips

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Really, I-15 going in either direction between Las Vegas-Los Angeles-San Diego is going to be bad. They keep widening the road and more cars go through. It's one of several reasons why we try to leave San Diego at 1 AM when we are heading north on I-15. Not exactly what our body clocks like, but we dislike bumper-to-bumper even more. Leaving LV in the wee hours isn't a bad idea, either, heading south. (We left Primm, which is on the CA-NV border, at 5 am on our last trip, which helped a lot. We were home in SD by noon.)

    Emerald Pools are beautiful, as is the Weeping Wall, in Zion. Your 5 year old will probably like it. This is a hike, though, that would make you want a good baby carrier (front pack or backpack), rather than a stroller for the baby.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Be prepared for crowds.

    The only time I visited a national park on Memorial Day (2007) a lot of my time was taken up with finding parking, and getting around the park. It will be slower than normal, and the shuttle in Zion will be crowded. Not that this should put you off, but be prepared for it, especially with a babe in arms.

    Your 5 year old will benefit from the Junior Ranger program, and you may consider enquiring about this at the visitor centre on your arrival in each park.

    Be sure to go see the movie of Zion and Bryce. I recall seeing both of these at a place in or near Zion.

    The best way from Hurricane would be to take 9 north to Zion and when going to Bryce, take 9 to 89, which is a lovely drive to Bryce. It is possible to see Bryce in a day trip from Hurricane, even with your little ones. Drive to the end of the road, and then visit all the view points on the way back. You may even like to take in one of the short hikes down to walk among the rocks.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Hurricane as a Base Camp

    Hurricane actually makes a perfectly suitable base camp for exploring Zion, Bryce and other national lands in southeastern Utah. As you note, it's a simple matter to get to Zion from there. Note that you will not be able to rive your own vehicle into Zion since the number of visitors would otherwise clog the single road into and out of the canyon. Instead you will take the park's own shuttle busses to the various t4railheads and view points. I would highly recommend that you check in at the visitors center at the park entrance and ask the rangers what trails are suitable for you and your small children. Presumably you'll have a stroller or carrier for the smallest one. If possible, I think the five year old would really like the Riverside Walk at the very end of the main road into the main canyon. But whatever you do, sign your older child up for the Junior Ranger program at both Zion and Bryce (and any other national park or monument you visit). Not only will he get to learn a bit more about the parks, but he'll get some nifty, and free, souvenirs.

    Bryce Canyon is a bit different. As you note, it's at least two hours from Hurricane. and that is using the road that goes through Zion, so be sure to save your receipt from your first visit to Zion so that you're not paying for two entries. Fortunately, you can do Bryce in your own car and so you'll be free to leave on your own schedule. After a full day at Zion, a half day in Bryce may be more than sufficient. For a different, longer but scenic, return route, consider using UT-14 west from US-89 to I-15 through the Dixie National Forest. Such a route would also take you past Cedar Breaks National Monument, worth a visit and another Junior Ranger patch. You could then have dinner in Cedar City to break up the drive home.

    I also agree that your best bet for having less traffic on the drive back to San Diego is to leave well before most other people start back. I would expect the bulk of that homeward-bound traffic to be leaving Las Vegas in the early afternoon with the idea of getting home in the early evening. If you, instead, leave in the early morning, you'll be home well head of all of that. I don't think a 6:00 AM start is required, but I'd certainly want to be on the road before 8:00 AM.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Springdale alternative. [Maybe]

    Although Hurricane is a good base to visit Zion and Bryce, I would be tempted to look at Springdale. It might be that there are no lodgings available and if there are, they could cost more in this popular town. The advantage is, other than being a lovely town, is that the free park shuttle buses into Zion canyon run from town and would save you the hassel of driving and then trying to find parking etc. There might be [?] shorter queues for the bus in town as well. You have time to do Bryce, but you would also have plenty to keep you occupied in and around Zion, such as the less visited Kolob canyons section of the park. I would also consider heading to Bryce after lunch one day, spend the night nearby and head back the following morning, but you might find it more covenient using one base.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Cedar Breaks is still closed for winter, it may not be open by Memorial Day weekend.

  7. Default

    Thanks a lot for all the replies.
    Google maps gives the directions from Hurricane to Zion NP as:
    - Take UT 9E
    - Turn left onto Kolob Terrace Rd
    And then a dotted line going from Kolob Terrace Rd towards the center of the park(near Springdale).

    Can someone please comment if this is the good scenic route to take.
    And what entrance of Zion NP we are going to hit going this route.

    It seems another option looks to be driving all along on UT-9E to Zion NP via Springdale.

    What would everyone recommend?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Seperate areas.

    Zion's main canyon area entrance is just north of the town of Springdale and you would need to take UT9 to Springdale. There are 2 Kolob sections that are not connected by road to the main canyon, the Terrace section from the town of Virgin you are referring to and the Canyons section that you get to via I15 at exit 40.

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by trips123 View Post
    It seems another option looks to be driving all along on UT-9E to Zion NP via Springdale.
    That's the one! Park at the visitor center and ride the shuttle bus up the canyon to do the trails. Kolob Canyons is a separate section of the park, worthwhile but IMHO a much lower priority if you're short for time.

    If you drive through Zion on UT9 to get to Bryce, then you'll automatically go up the zig zags, through the tunnel and see the Checkerboard Mesa area of the park as part of that journey.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
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    6,936

    Default digital vs paper.

    Quote Originally Posted by trips123 View Post
    And then a dotted line going from Kolob Terrace Rd towards the center of the park(near Springdale).

    Can someone please comment if this is the good scenic route to take.
    Check the legend. It will tell you what every mark and every line on a paper map means. This is another example of where paper maps have it over the confines of a digital device.

    Lifey

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