Utah – Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks 

Bryce Canyon National Park 

Bryce Canyon is best known for its hoodoos, which are sandstone pillars formed from erosion, and Bryce Canyon National Park has the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. We purchased the National Park Annual Pass for the year, and with that pass, you do not have to pay entry to any national parks. Otherwise, entry into the park is $25 per vehicle for the day.

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Visitor Center

Right when you enter into the park, the visitor center is on the right hand side. We stopped in the visitor center and spoke with a Park Ranger to get advice on the best hiking route for what we wanted to see. The Park Entrance attendant and the Park Rangers both have maps that they can give you of the various hiking routes. The visitor center also has a gift shop and a small museum where you can learn about the landscape and how it was formed as well as the various animals that live in the park.

Shuttle Bus

The Park Ranger also recommended parking our car in a lot near the front entrance and then taking the free shuttle bus around the park to avoid driving around in lots with very little parking spaces; we were very happy we did that.

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Bryce Point Overlook

We first took the shuttle bus to Bryce Point, which is located on the south side of the canyon, and has an amazing view of the whole canyon. We walked around to the different viewing points and really took in how beautiful the hoodoos are from above.

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Sunset Point to Wall Street and the Queen’s Garden Trail 

The ranger recommended that we start hiking at Sunset Point and travel down the Wallstreet, and then finishing coming back through the Queens Garden Trail ending at Sunrise Point. If you start here in the morning, you can take advantage of the low crowds and good light. The trail loop is 3.3 miles.

Sunset Point and Sunrise Point: both of these points are shuttle bus stops, and they offer views of the canyon and hoodoos up close and personal.

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Wall Street: The Wall Street portion of the trail (located along the Navajo Trail) was my favorite part of the trail. Wall Street is a slot canyon that makes for a wild bit of hiking. You have to hike down (or up if you do the trail in reverse) very steep and short switchbacks that lead you down into the shady canyon. Once you are in the canyon, it is amazing to look up at the hoodoos surrounding you.

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Thor’s hammer: A famous hoodoos that is easy to spot as it sticks out solo away from the other pillars.

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Queens Garden Trail: Traveling along this trail you will see many hoodoos and garden like features. They say you can see Queen Victoria in part of the trail if you have a good imagination.

 

Zion National Park

We came to Zion National Park from Bryce Canyon National Park, so we entered Zion from the east entrance. We used our National Park Annual Pass for this park as well, so we did not have to pay the entrance fee.

We visited the park during Labor Day weekend, and we had plans to hike Angels Landing as well as the Narrows, which are Zion’s most famous hiking trails, but our trip did not go as planned. First of all, the park was extremely crowded, and you can only get to the trails via a shuttle bus, and the lines for the shuttle bus were over an hour long. Also, Mike had a very bad cold, and my knees hurt very badly from hiking in Bryce Canyon the day before, so we made some last minute plans, and still had an amazing trip.

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SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion National Park

I would DEFINITELY stay at this hotel if you can. It is located just outside of Zion’s South Entrance in the bottom of the canyon. There is a free shuttle that will take you to the park entrance. The hotel hotel has beautiful views. The rooms are are new, modern, and extremely nice. Since it was so hot there, we also went swimming in the pool during sunset. And in the morning, we ate breakfast outside by the fire and watched the sunrise. We had an extremely wonderful and peaceful experience at the hotel.

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Canyon Overlook Trail

The Canyon Overlook Trail has views of the canyon that are similar to Angels Landing, but the trail is only one mile long. The entrance to the trail is located just east of the tunnel, and there is not a lot of room for parking, so make sure to get there early. We did the hike while the sun was rising, and it was so quiet and peaceful. We barley saw anyone else on the trail.  The elevation gain on the trail is 163 feet, and the overall peak of the trail is 5300 feet. The trail is very beautiful, and you go through a small cave, go across a small bridge, and mostly walk along stone. Once we reached the end of the trail and the canyon overlook, I almost dropped my phone off the edge, so definitely be careful!!!

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Mountain Goats 

When we entered the park our first evening, we saw a heard of mountain goats eating their dinner. They were adorable and didn’t mind us watching them at all. They just kept to themselves and kept eating. I am really happy we were able to see them!

Bit & Spur Restaurant & Saloon

This restaurant is located directly across from the Marriott hotel, and it had delicious food! We ordered the special fish tacos as well as chicken and mushroom tamales. So delicious! Definitely check them out.

The Parkhouse Cafe

On our way out of the park, we stopped at the Parkhouse Cafe for lunch. Its the cutest little local cafe, and the food was amazing! They have indoor and outdoor seating, and it looked like many people come to just hang out. I would stop by here again for sure.

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