Many people have asked us, which national park is better, Zion or Bryce Canyon? This is a tough question to answer because they are so many factors to consider. In the end, you’ll have to decide for yourself, but here is some information that might help you to make up your mind.
Zion National Park:
Pros – Zion National Park has a huge amount of geological diversity. There are towering cliffs, narrow slot canyons, and vast, open regions of slick rock. You get to see a lot of different scenery in one place, and can spend several days exploring all the regions of the park.
Zion National Park has lots of tourist-oriented attractions nearby. Luxury accommodations, fine dining and upscale shops surround the park, complimenting your outdoor experience.
Cons – The crowds. Zion National Park draws in more than three times as many visitors as Bryce Canyon National Park. While this does support the attractions mentioned above, it also detracts from the solitude that is associated with national parks. Consider visiting Zion in the fall or early spring to avoid the summer rush.
Because it is situated at a low elevation in a southern latitude, Zion National Park gets extremely hot during the summer months. This heat is often uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous. Bryce is located at a much higher elevation, and stays more temperate throughout the year.
Bryce Canyon National Park:
Pros – Bryce Canyon is less crowded, prompting a more intimate connection with nature. There are days when it is possible to have the entire park to yourself.
Bryce changes with the seasons. Since Zion seldom gets snowfall, it remains unchanged during the winter. Bryce, on the other hand becomes more beautiful in the winter. The contrasting white snow on red sandstone, framed by the blue sky, is a sight not to be missed.
Cons – Bryce Canyon is, more or less, homogenous. The hoodoos that you see in one amphitheater are similar to those in the next amphitheater. (There are some exceptions, like the arches found on the Fairyland Trail.) It is also a smaller park, (35,000 acres) which means that you can see everything there is to see in a day.
We at the Lodge at Red River Ranch love both these national parks, and our best advice is for you to try to see them both. If you want a quick showcase of southern Utah beauty, we recommend Zion National Park. But if you want to get off the beaten track, try Bryce Canyon.