As you’re planning your Utah National Parks vacation, don’t overlook all the things you can see, do and photograph along the way from Bryce Canyon to Zion!
There are must-see stops and short detours to explore as you drive from Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion. We recommend an extra day or two just to enjoy the points of interest between these two parks!
In this guide we share everything you need to know to create your Utah National Park Road Trip Itinerary as you travel from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park.
If you’ll be traveling from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon, just reverse the order listed in this guide.
Check out these resources to plan your time at both parks:
- Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park
- Bryce Canyon Travel Guide
- Visiting Zion National Park
- Zion National Park Travel Guide
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What to Pack for Bryce Canyon and Zion
- Zion National Park packing list
- Bryce Canyon packing list
- Hiking shoes – waterproof hiking shoes for winter
- Darn Tough hiking socks
- Water – carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack
- Healthy food that’s portable and filling!
- Columbia fleece jacket – insulated coat in the winter
- Wicking, quick-drying clothing – base layers in the winter
- Lip balm with UV protection – summer and winter
- Sunscreen (even in the winter) and a sunhat
- Hand lotion
- UV sunglasses – summer and winter
- Travel hand sanitizer
- Flashlight or headlamp
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Camera gear – DOWNLOAD the free checklist!
A Photo Tour of Bryce Canyon National Park
Take a visual tour through Bryce Canyon National Park to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!
Things to Know Before Visiting Bryce Canyon
The park is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, even on holidays! Be sure to check the Bryce Canyon website for the most updated information for the visitor center hours and closures.
Bryce Canyon national park camping: the North Campground is open year-round and it’s first-come, first-served. The Sunset Campground requires a reservation through mid-month, then it’s first-come, first-served through the end of October.
The Bryce Canyon shuttle bus takes visitors to the Bryce Amphitheater area of the park. it’s not mandatory to ride the shuttle to access the park. Private vehicles can also explore the Bryce Canyon scenic drive. Get an early start to beat the crowds and have the best light to take photos.
When is the Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon National Park?
The time of year to visit Bryce Canyon National Park will play a big part in what you can see or do at the park.
Most of the year you’ll enjoy fun outdoor things to do at Bryce Canyon National Park like scenic drives, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. During the winter, the activities are a bit more limited due to the cold and snow!
Due to the higher elevation at Bryce Canyon compared to the other Utah National Parks, the weather and temperatures will be different so it’s important to be up-to-date with current weather and road conditions!
We’ve put together helpful resources so you know what the Bryce Canyon weather is like during all four seasons:
- Bryce Canyon in the Spring
- Bryce Canyon in the Summer
- Bryce Canyon in the Fall
- Bryce Canyon in the Winter
Late spring, summer, and fall are peak seasons to visit Bryce Canyon so you don’t need to worry about the cold weather and snow storms closing roads during the winter months.
Things to Do at Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park has something for everyone: hiking, biking, horseback riding and more!
- Things to Do at Bryce Canyon National Park
- Tourist Attractions in Bryce Canyon
- Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive
- Bryce Canyon Hikes – includes the longer hikes at the park
- Best day hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park
- Easy hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park
- Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail – one of our favorite hikes
- Bryce Canyon photo spots
Zion & Bryce Canyon AUDIO TOUR
“Download the app to your phone – no cell or wifi service needed. Based on your GPS location, the app takes you on a guided tour of the park and points out all the interesting features and stops. It’s like having a park ranger in the car with you.”
A Photo Tour of Zion National Park
Take a visual tour through Zion National Park to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!
Things to Know Before Visiting Zion
Zion National Park is open to visitors twenty-four hours day, every day of the year. You will want to check the website because some services and facilities do close or reduce hours during parts of the year.
Parking at Zion National Park: visitors can park only in designated parking spaces and should avoid parking along roadways, on vegetation, and in a way that blocks traffic. If a parking lot is full, do not wait for a spot to open up. Instead, move on and look for parking elsewhere. Anyone who fails to park in designated spots will be subject to a fine and may have their vehicle towed.
You can also park in Springdale, just outside the park entrance. Use the free shuttle that takes you to Zion. Be aware though that you must pay for parking in Springdale and that a park entrance pass does not include town parking, and vice versa.
Zion National Park Shuttle system: operations begin during the weekends starting mid-February. Around the first part of March, the shuttle runs daily between Zion Canyon and the town of Springdale. While the shuttle is in operation, no vehicles are permitted on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The shuttle also runs during the Christmas holiday so check the website if you’ll be visiting Zion during that time.
Shuttle buses run from the early morning and into the late evening, with departures about every seven minutes. There are two separate shuttle routes that guests can take when visiting Zion National Park. The Zion Canyon Shuttle connects the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to nine different stops along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The Springdale Shuttle has nine stops in the town of Springdale and will take you to the pedestrian entrance near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.
When the shuttle service is not in use, Zion National Park can still experience overcrowding. When this happens, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive will close to the public once all parking lots are full. Therefore, be prepared and make alternative arrangements if you’re planning a Zion itinerary between December and February.
When is the Best Time to Visit Zion National Park?
The best times to visit Zion National Park are spring and fall for moderate temperatures to enjoy outdoor activities.
The summer months are HOT and monsoon season at Zion begins in late summer through early fall which could limit activities. Be aware of potential flash floods at Zion!
Winter is the least busy season. We don’t mind the colder weather for enjoying outdoor activities, which makes the winter the best time for us to visit to escape the crowds! BUT the cold winter weather may not be for everyone.
Check out these resources we’ve written about each season that details: Zion National Park weather, services, and things to do that time of year.
- Zion National Park in the Spring
- Zion National Park in the Summer
- Zion National Park in the Fall
- Zion National Park in the Winter
Things to Do at Zion National Park
Zion has become one go-to spots for adventure-seekers who enjoy hiking, biking, canyoneering and more! Learn more about the exciting activities you can do at Zion National Park.
- Things to do at Zion National Park
- Zion National Park Hikes – includes Zion Narrows and Angel’s Landing
- Zion Hikes Without the Shuttle –
- Easy Zion National Park Hikes – popular trails at the park
- Zion National Park Scenic Drives
- Zion National Park Activities
- Zion National Park Photo Spots
How Far is Bryce Canyon from Zion National Park?
It’s a 75-mile drive from Bryce Canyon National Park to the East Entrance of Zion National Park and takes about 1.5 hours.
If you plan to do any of the side trips or detours, you may need to add hours, or even days, to your schedule.
To drive from the East Entrance of Zion to Springdale where you access the popular Zion Canyon, add another 10 miles and about 30 minutes of drive time without stops.
The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway passes through Zion National Park and never closes. You can drive your personal vehicle along this Zion National Park Scenic Drive.
The Zion National Park Shuttle doesn’t run along this route, only the Zion Canyon road accessed near Springdale. Note that large campers, RVs and buses must have an escort and require a permit to drive through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel.
How Much Does It Cost to Enter Bryce Canyon and Zion?
A weekly pass to Bryce Canyon is $35 per vehicle, and it’s the same for Zion. So you’re spending $70 to visit both parks. We highly recommend buying an annual US National Park pass for $80. If you plan on visiting other US National Park during the year, this is the way to go!
Can You Do Bryce Canyon and Zion in One Day?
Yes, it IS possible to visit both Zion and Bryce Canyon in one day, but we don’t recommend it. You really need to plan at least 2 days at each park.
If you’re short on time, we suggest you give each park at least a full day – you won’t regret it!
This guide will probably convince you to add more time for the incredible stops between Bryce Canyon and Zion.
Services between Bryce Canyon and Zion
You will find these services at Bryce Canyon City, Hatch, Orderville and Carmel Junction: gas, groceries, accommodation, and restaurants.
The detour to Cedar Breaks takes you through Panguitch and close to Brian Head, small towns with all necessary amenities. You’ll find all services in Kanab if you choose to add a day trip in that area.
We’ve learned to always be prepared with water and road trip food when driving in the Southern Utah area.
Bryce Canyon to Zion Map
Use this Bryce Canyon to Zion Map to navigate your travel from Bryce Canyon to Zion, and all the points of interest along the way.
Bryce Canyon to Zion Itinerary
There are a lot of things to see, do and photograph between Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion.
We recommend at least 1-2 days to explore the attractions along the route as well as the surrounding areas!
When visiting Southern Utah any time of year, you’ll want to:
- drink lots of water – carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack
- wear sun protection and lip balm with UV protection – even in the winter!
Utah Scenic Byway 12
Be sure to note all the best stops along Scenic Byway 12 if you will be driving from Capitol Reef National Park to Bryce Canyon. It’s another stretch of road in Utah that can take 1-2 days to explore.
For this guide from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park, you will start at Bryce Canyon City. You’ll drive a short distance along Highway 12 until it connects with Highway 89.
Most visitors only drive along the highway through Red Canyon. The rock tunnels are stunning and worth the stop to take a photo!
If you have time, stop by the Red Canyon visitor center to get a list of trails. There are a few short hikes that provide the best views: Photo Trail, Tunnel Trail, Golden Wall Trail, and Pink Ledges Trail.
Detour Option: Cedar Breaks National Monument
- Total Detour: 1h 15m, 50 miles
- Full Detour is Closed in the Winter
Utah Scenic Byway 12 past Red Canyon will end at the junction of Highway 89. The most direct drive to Zion National Park is to turn left and travel south to Mount Carmel Junction.
You’ll drive through Dixie National Forest to reach Cedar Breaks National Monument. At Highway 89, turn RIGHT headed to Panguitch instead of turning left to Zion.
We’ll be honest, Cedar Breaks is much smaller and not as impressive as Bryce Canyon. But the entire detour drive is beautiful! Panguitch Lake is a nice stop to eat a snack while you enjoy the scenery!
Once you reach Cedar Breaks, you can turn right for a quick side-trip to Brian Head, or turn left headed to Duck Creek, passing Navajo Lake on the way. A bit after Duck Creek you’ll reach the junction at Hwy 89 and turn right headed to Zion.
Mount Carmel Junction
If you didn’t opt for the Cedar Breaks detour, you’ll reach Mount Carmel Junction in 1 hour 10 minutes, about 62 miles. It’s the gateway to the East Entrance of Zion National Park with gas stations and restaurants.
Turn right here to head to Zion, or continue south on Highway 89 to explore the Kanab area!
Detour Options: Kanab Area
You can spend days in Kanab so it’s hard to exactly state the total distance and time for this detour.
Instead, we’ll list the attractions so you can determine what’s of interest to YOU and fit them in your schedule.
Moqui Cave Natural History Museum
- Drive Distance: 11 minutes, 11 miles from Mount Carmel Junction
Moqui Cave is a museum depicting life in southern Utah spanning the centuries. It houses Native American Artifacts, dinosaur tracks, fluorescent mineral, rocks and fossils.
Kanab Sand Caves
- Drive Distance: 12 minutes, 11.5 miles from Mount Carmel Junction
- Hike Distance: Very challenging 0.5 mile roundtrip (but can be seen from the road)
The Kanab Sand Caves were man-made when they began mining for the sand in the area – resulting in spectacular caves to explore.
This hike requires scrambling up a steep slick rock so wear proper footwear!
Coral Pink Sand Dunes
- Drive Distance: 18 minutes, 14.7 miles from Mount Carmel Junction
Drive south on Highway 89 for 3.5 miles past Mount Carmel Junction. Turn right on County Road 43 (signed) and continue south for 11 miles to the entrance station.
If you are looking for fun outdoor activities like hiking, off-roading, and sand boarding then check out Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.
The park is open year round during daylight hours. Outdoor activities like hiking, sand boarding and ATVing can be done any time of year. Keep in mind that summer temperatures are hot, near 100 degrees F! If you visit in the summer, we suggest visiting in the morning or late afternoon when the temperatures aren’t so hot.
The golden hour light at Coral Pink Sand Dunes is stunning! The sandy landscape glows with vibrant pink/orange tones. If you can time your visit to be there in the late afternoon to watch sunset, you’re in for a treat!
Kanab Photography and Tours
- Drive Distance: 22 minutes, 19 miles from Mount Carmel Junction
Kanab is located in southeastern Utah near the Arizona border. The area is surrounded by towering Navajo sandstone cliffs and vistas of sagebrush. You’ll find so many things to see, do, and photograph in the Kanab area!
The Kanab area is a stunning place to visit in Utah if you enjoy landscape photography. Since we live so close to Kanab, we’ve been able to take pictures during every season and all types of weather and light conditions.
You’ll need to plan 1-2 days spending time in Kanab to photograph and explore the area.
We’ve written a detailed Guide to Kanab Photography. In this guide we share our experience through the years with you: photo tips, a list of best photo spots, and the camera gear you’ll need to take pictures all around the Kanab area.
Here are the location we feature, in addition to Zion National Park and Coral Pink Sand Dunes:
- Peekaboo slot canyon
- Johnson Canyon Road
- Old Pariah
- The Toadstools
- White Pocket
There are fun tours in the Kanab area: ATV tours, slot canyon tours, canyoneering tours, and more!
Zion-Mount Carmel Highway – Zion East Entrance
Heading South on Highway 89, turn right at Carmel Junction. Drive 13 miles on Highway 9 to reach the Zion National Park East Entrance. Once you enter the park, you’ll navigate along this Zion National Park scenic drive.
We recommend you stop at the various parking areas and pullouts so you can take in and photograph the stunning landscape!
The first point of interest once you enter the park is Checkerboard Mesa. There’s a nice size parking area on the right.
As you continue along the road, you’ll see 2 small pullouts on the right, directly across from the Checkerboard Mesa. There’s a set of “hoodoos” on the rock slope to the right. It’s a short walk up to access and photograph the hoodoos.
It’s fun to stop at the pullouts along Highway 9 and just start exploring the various trails in the area.
This area of Zion has smaller slot canyons located along the Pine Creek wash, found on the left side of the road as you’re driving from the East Entrance to Springdale.
There are no named trails or markers, so we usually drive until we find an area that looks like there’s a crack in the wall near the creek wash. We find a pullout to park, hike down to the wash and start exploring!
Canyon Overlook Trail
If you’re looking for a Zion hike that doesn’t require the shuttle, then we recommend Zion Canyon Overlook. It’s the last stop along Highway 9 before going through the Carmel Tunnel.
BUT this hike is popular and parking is extremely limited all times of day. If you can time it right, Canyon Overlook is one of the best photo spots for sunrise at Zion National Park. Going early for sunrise means you’ll have a better chance at finding a parking spot!
The hike is one mile round trip and takes 30 minutes to an hour. It’s considered a moderate Zion National Park Hike due to significant elevation gain at the beginning of the trail and there are a few exposed spots with steep drop-offs where you’ll want to watch the kids.
Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel
The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel is one of the busiest areas in the park When approaching the tunnel, be aware of your surroundings and slow down. Watch for tunnel rangers, pedestrians and other traffic.
DO NOT STOP in the tunnel. Obey all traffic directions from the tunnel rangers.
Large vehicles measuring 11’4″ (3.4m) tall or taller or 7’10” (2.4 m) wide or wider, including mirrors, awnings, and jacks, will need a tunnel permit.
Once you exit the tunnel, the road follows a series of switchbacks as it descends to the canyon floor.
You’ll follow Highway 9 and exit out the West Entrance of Zion at Springdale.
BUY AT AMAZON: Zion National Park Guides and Maps