5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce Canyon

This October, my friends & I embarked on a grand five-day tour of Zion & Bryce Canyon ~ starting in Las Vegas.  They drove to Vegas from Palm Springs; I flew in from Oregon.  We never drove more than three hours in a day, & some days we didn’t drive at all…which was great.  We got in five hikes, two of which I’d describe as “Bucket List’ers” (Angel’s Landing at Zion, & Fairlyland Loop at Bryce).  And we still built in plenty of time for rest & bar-hopping!  Take a look at our “5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks.”

5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks, Girl Who Travels the World

Join my friends & I for this 5-day tour of two of Utah’s BEST National Parks: Zion & Bryce Canyon! Pictured here on the Fairyland Loop Trail at Bryce.

It’s easy to visit Zion & Bryce on the same trip: they’re less than two hours apart.  We spent two days at each park, which I thought was ideal.  If you need to rent a car in Vegas, check rates here ~ you can’t do this route without wheels!

Map of Our Stops: Zion & Bryce

Las Vegas International Airport

Valley of Fire State Park

St. George

Zion National Park

Bryce Canyon

Overview of 5-Day Zion & Bryce Itinerary

  • Day 1: Drive from Vegas to the Valley of Fire, Overnight in St. George:  Driving from Vegas to the Valley of Fire (our first stop) took just over an hour, & I highly recommend this quick stop before hitting the big parks.  We hiked the popular Fire Wave Trail, & all LOVED it. Fantastic scenery.  On to St. George, where we checked into our luxurious hotel: The Advenire.  Dinner in their restaurant was fantastic.  I’d stay here again! 

Total Drive Time on Day 1 = Three hours

  • Day 2: Drive to Bryce Canyon + Short Hike at Bryce.  The drive from St. George to Bryce via I-15 to Hwy 20 is just two hours, so we stopped at Kolob Canyon (back half of Zion).  Exit right off I-15, onto E. Kolob Canyons Rd.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND stopping here!!  After, we headed to Bryce, checked into the Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon ~ then headed into the park to hike the Navajo Loop Trail.

Total Drive Time on Day 2 = Two hours + 30-minute detour.

  • Day 3: Hike the Fairyland Loop Trail at Bryce + Great Dinner :  We had a great buffet breakfast at the Best Western, then hiked the 8-mile Fairyland Loop Trail.  I LOVED THIS HIKE!!!  The scenery changes every mile or so, keeping it interesting.  The hike took four hours.  After, we headed for the best restaurant in town: Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant.  Starving, our burgers, green bean fries, & cherry pie HIT THE SPOT.  Food here is top-notch.

Whereas the food at Ruby Inn’s buffet the night before almost gave us food poisoning, sooo….

Total Drive Time on Day 3 = 20 minutes.

  • Day 4: Drive from Bryce to Zion + Hike Angel’s Landing:  We drove from Bryce to Zion via lovely Hwy 89, entering Zion’s back entrance.  We checked into Zion Canyon Lodge (where I would NEVER stay again), changed clothes, got our backpacks ready, & took TWO shuttles to reach Angels Landing.  This hike took us five hours, as we hiked the “Chains” section & then further up, above Scout’s Landing.  Beautiful, but very challenging.

Total Drive Time on Day 4 = Two hours.

  • Day 5: Easy Hike in Zion + Dining & Shopping in Springdale:  By Day 5, we were all pretty tired, & really just wanted to shop & bar-hop.  Springdale is a much cuter town than Bryce, with a larger selection of shops & restaurants.

Total Drive Time on Day 5 = NONE.

  • Day 6: Easy Three-Hour Drive Back to Vegas:  With no traffic & a quick breakfast at Feel Love Coffee, we headed back to Vegas.  My friends dropped me off at the Delano Las Vegas around 11AM, & luckily I got an early check-in & was able to enjoy some solo time in Sin City….

Total Drive Time on Day 6 = Three hours.

5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce Canyon

Day 1: Start in Vegas, Valley of Fire Hike, & Overnight in St. George

After my friends picked me up at the Vegas airport: we headed straight for the Valley of Fire.  The drive took us an hour, & for a nice short hike, we chose the beautiful Fire Wave Trail (highly recommended).  Then, onto St. George for check-in at the beautiful & close-to brand new Advenire Hotel (also HIGHLY recommended). 

Delicious dinner in their lobby bar & off to bed!  

5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce Canyon, Road Trip from Vegas to the Valley of Fire, Photos of the Fire Wave Trail, Girl Who Travels the World

The Fire Wave Trail, at the Valley of Fire.

Road Trip from Vegas to the Valley of Fire, Photos of the Fire Wave Trail, Girl Who Travels the World

My friend Jill & I on the Fire Wave.

Perfect 5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce Canyon, Girl Who Travels the World

Lobby of The Advenire Hotel in St. George. We wanted to start with a little luxury….

Day 2: Drive to Bryce, Stop in Kolob Canyons, & Short Hike in Bryce Canyon

As the drive from St. George to Bryce Canyon was so short: we opted for a short detour to Zion’s Kolob Canyon ~ which can be accessed right off I-15.  Google “Kolob Canyon Visitor’s Center” & it will take you to the start of a beautiful drive, where you climb high up into the canyons surrounding Zion National Park.  If you don’t plan to hike much in Zion: this drive is a MUST.  Huge pay-off here. 

Perfect 5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce Canyon, Girl Who Travels the World

A quick stop at E. Kolob Canyon Road is SO worth it ~ check out the fall colors behind me…

Kolob Canyon, Perfect 5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce Canyon, Girl Who Travels the World

Pictures don’t do justice to Kolob Canyon: it is truly spectacular, & moreso in person.

After that, we just had 90 minutes left to Bryce, where we checked into the Best Western Plus (a perfectly adequate hotel, with a great breakfast & large enough room for 3 people): then off to the park!  We hiked the short Navajo Loop Trail, which descends down into the canyons at Sunset Point.  This is a pretty steep hike & not for everyone: get my full thoughts on it here.

Guide to Hiking the Navajo Loop Trail at Bryce, Girl Who Travels the World

The steep Navajo Loop Trail at Bryce Canyon.

After hiking, we drove to the end of the park, stopping at various view points, then headed to Best Western Ruby Inn’s infamous buffet….which I do not recommend.  My ribs came out grey, sooo….not a fan. 

But they do have a decent salad bar, circa the 1980’s.

Day 3: LONG Hike at Bryce, then AMAZING Meal at Bryce Pines

My favorite hike of the trip was at Bryce Canyon: the beautiful 8-mile Fairyland Loop Trail.  This hike is more accessible than Angel’s Landing (read: easier), & takes you past so much unique topography….it’s a fantastic hike.  You really feel like you’ve been to Bryce after hiking here ~ past hoodoos, “Star Wars-like” scenery, grand vistas, & hoodoos that even form a kind of “bridge.”  

We started our hike at Sunrise Point & went counter-clockwise, encountering fewer people this way.  You can also start at Fairyland Point, which is located just before the Main Entrance, & requires no fee to enter.  If you want to make the loop shorter, park one car at Fairyland Point ~ & another at Sunrise Point.  This cuts the hike from eight miles down to about five.

Hiking the Fairyland Loop Trail at Bryce, Girl Who Travels the World

We started Fairyland Loop at Sunrise Point, & hiked counter-clockwise. This was on our initial descent…absolutely fantastic scenery.

Hiking the Fairyland Loop Trail at Bryce, Girl Who Travels the World

Incredible.

Hiking the Fairyland Loop Trail at Bryce, Girl Who Travels the World

The hoodoos are located closer to Fairyland Point, which is actually located BEFORE the park entrance (i.e. no fee). This is a great place to come at sunset time…

Tips for Sight-Seeing at Bryce Canyon:  On our first day in the park, after hiking Navajo Loop, we drove to the very end of the park….which is about 18 miles.  To be honest, it was a bit underwhelming.  The best stuff at Bryce is all located near the entrance of the park: Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, & Fairyland Point.  This is where we took our best photos, & the scenery further on gets repetitive.

5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce Canyon

Day 4: Drive from Bryce to Zion (on Back Roads) + Hike Angel’s Landing

On Day 4, it was one more breakfast at the Best Western Plus, then south on Hwy 89 towards Zion!  We loved this drive: it’s very rural, & you’ll pass lots of farms with pretty trees & pastures along the way.  As you get closer to Zion ~ you’ll notice the rocks start to get redder: which means your close to the back entrance.

As our Angel’s Landing permit had us starting our hike at noon, we didn’t make any stops on the drive ~ but headed straight to our hotel: Zion Canyon Lodge.  We HATED this hotel.  My friend thought she booked the lodge IN the park, but realized too late it was a different hotel.  The staff here is some of the most indifferent & unhelpful I’ve encountered anywhere; lighting is poor at night & the stairs can be extremely dangerous, as are the huge sinkholes on their 2nd story (you literally feel like you’re going to fall through the floor)!!  To top it off, our coffee maker & toilet were both broken, & did not get fixed during our stay.

I cannot in good faith recommend this place to anyone. 

Stay instead at Cable Mountain Lodge, which is located right next to the park entrance ~ or Majestic View Lodge, which is set above the road with beautiful views & outdoor pools.

5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce Canyon, Where to Watch the Sunset in Zion, Girl Who Travels the World

Views from the deck of Cable Mountain Lodge: I highly recommend staying here over nearby Zion Canyon Lodge (which was AWFUL).

We set off then for Angels Landing via TWO shuttles: this hike is NOT for everyone!  It’s very challenging, very steep, & the final “Chains” section is not for people who are afraid of heights.  For easier hikes, try the Emerald Pools or the Watchman Trail.  Check out photos of our Angels Landing hike below….

Photos of Angels Landing Hike at Zion, Girl Who Travels the World

About half-way up the FIRST section of steep switchbacks on Angels Landing!

Photos of Angels Landing Chains Section, Girl Who Travels the World

This is the start of the “Chains Section” of Angels Landing. You’ll need to climb up this whole ridge if you want to complete the hike! If not, stop at Scout’s Landing.

Photos of Angels Landing Hike at Zion, Girl Who Travels the World

Another view of the Angels Landing ridge, as seen from Scout’s Lookout.

Day 5: Easier Hike in Zion, Dining & Shopping in Springdale, Watch Zion Sunset

By Day 5, we were all pretty tired.  The back-to-back days of long hiking left us more ready to shop & eat our way around Springdale, taking in the atmosphere in a more low-key way.  We had breakfast at Meme’s Cafe, which was delicious (though they don’t serve mimosas ’til 11:30AM ~ state law).  Mexican food at Oscar’s Cafe was yum, & we went to The Bit & Spur twice because we liked it so much.

Perfect 5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce, Girl Who Travels the World, Oscar's Cafe

All we really wanted to do on Day 5 was shop & drink! This is sangria from Oscar’s Cafe.

Perfect 5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce, Girl Who Travels the World

Springdale is a charming little town with gorgeous views of Zion, & great stores & restaurants (far better than Bryce).

Zion Sunset, Where to Watch the Sunset in Zion National Park, Girl Who Travels the World

If you’re too tired to hike at sunset time ~ simply take a drive thru Zion, or head over to Kolob Canyon for breathtaking sunset views.

Day 6: Drive Back to Vegas!

The drive from Zion back to Vegas took just under three hours; the distance between them is 150 miles.  My friends dropped me off at the Delano Las Vegas (a hotel I highly recommend for solo travelers), & then continued on home to Palm Springs. 

By then, we were all tired from a week of laughter & hiking!

5-Day Itinerary for Zion & Bryce Canyon

That concludes our tour of some of Utah’s best scenery ~ I hope this itinerary is useful!  For special, guided tours of Zion National Park: check out some of Viator’s affordable tours, which include helicopter tours above Zion & canyoneering in gorgeous slot canyons….

xoxo Noelia

 

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