Welcome to Southern Utah! The two parks I’m going to cover in the next two blogs are probably the best known in Utah. I’ll tell you my opinions on what is worth seeing, what isn’t worth seeing and some hidden treasures.
First, our trip was short – only 6 days. But is 6 days including travel to see Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park doable? Sure as long as you take full advantage of the sunlight.Visiting in April is great for the weather however, depending on how strong winter storms were, many trails may be closed. This was the case this April.Quickest flight into a major airport is Vegas with a 4+ hours drive to Bryce. For the Bryce portion of the trip, we stayed in Tropic which is 15 minutes outside of the Bryce Canyon entrance.Tropic is at a very high elevation (7000+) with houses, farm and less than a handful of restaurants. True isolation here!
We began our first full day after traveling with hiking Sunrise Point to Peekaboo Loop and back-up. Ideally we would have hiked back up Navajo Loop but it was still closed due to the winter storms. The hike winded up being about 8 miles, due to my amazing navigation skills and taking the horse trail down to the loop. Oops, but I do always like to pave my own way hiking (of course still on trail!).This hike had it all! Snow, mud, sand, hoodoos, moody clouds, sun, pinnacles, trees, squirrels, snakes. The last push back to Sunrise Point is a steep one, and full of people. Otherwise the entire Peekaboo Loop was quite empty. Plenty of great places to stop throughout for lunch, rest or just to be enamored by the views.Before sunset we went to Bryce Pines for dinner. The signs for this place are everywhere, ridiculous billboards exclaiming about the pie. I will say, the pie was worth the wait.
For sunset we traveled back to Bryce to watch from Sunset Point. Definitely quite crowded and it was a clear night to see the moon rising. The next morning 2 of 3 of us woke bright and early to watch sunrise from Sunrise Point in Bryce. I’d say it was worth it.
On our way out of Bryce Canyon and Tropic we asked our VRBO hosts for any off the beaten path hikes on the way to Zion. They recommended Red Canyon off Highway 12, which was maybe 10 minutes away.
Arriving at Red Canyon is the visitor center, a trail from the parking lot that didn’t look like much of a big deal. But boy was I wrong! We stopped in the visitor center, asked for a map and recommendations and set on our way.From the parking lot we chose the main trail the staff recommended – Pink Ledges Trail and then extended and walked through Bird’s Eye and the Photo Trail. This was the chance to get up close and personal with the sandstone that is much more red here than the orange in Bryce. It was amazing and probably one of my favorite hikes on this trip.
After leaving Red Canyon we made our way towards Zion – next post will be all Zion.