Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are two gems in the National Park system. Located in southwest Utah, just two hours apart from each other, many people often choose to visit Zion and Bryce on the same trip. Maybe even tackle all five Utah National Parks in one epic southwest road trip!
But if you are short on time and have to decide between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, this is the guide for you!
In this Zion Vs. Bryce Canyon guide, I will share the differences between the two Utah National Parks. That way you can decide if you should visit Zion or Bryce Canyon. Or both!
Spoiler Alert: You can’t go wrong either way! ✨
NOTE: This is just a comparison guide between the two parks. If you are looking for the best things to do, top hikes, and where to stay in/near each of the parks, then you’ll want to read my park guides for Zion and Bryce Canyon.
Know Before You Go to Zion and Bryce Canyon
Zion: Vehicles are not allowed into the Zion Canyon from March through November. All visitors must board the free shuttle or ride a bike into the canyon during those months.
Bryce Canyon: You can enter the park with a personal vehicle, but a free shuttle is also provided for convenience.
PRO TIP: You’ll want to bring your America the Beautiful pass to these Utah National Parks to avoid paying the hefty entrance fees! Without the pass, Zion’s fee is $35/vehicle, and Bryce Canyon’s fee is $35/vehicle.
Zion Vs Bryce Canyon: Which National Park Is Better?
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Location: Zion Vs Bryce Canyon
Zion National Park is accessible from two points: Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyons. Zion Canyon is located outside of Springdale, Utah, and Kolob Canyons is located about 40 miles north, off I-15. Get directions to the Zion Canyon here and directions to the Kolob Canyons here.
Bryce Canyon National Park is located about 2 hours from the Zion Canyon, outside of Bryce Canyon City. Get directions to the visitor center here.
Vehicle Accessibility: Zion Vs Bryce Canyon
Zion National Park‘s park roads are all suitable for 2WD vehicles. No off-roading vehicles are allowed in Zion.
Bryce Canyon National Park‘s pard roads are all suitable for 2WD vehicles. No off-roading vehicles are allowed in Bryce Canyon.
Scenic Drives & Overlooks: Zion Vs Bryce Canyon
Zion National Park‘s scenic drive, Zion Canyon, is approximately 7 miles long. A shuttle operates from March through November to take visitors along the canyon; personal vehicles are not allowed when shuttles are in operation. The drive itself is very scenic, and there are 9 stops to get out and hike and take in the views.
Bryce Canyon National Park‘s scenic drive is 18 miles long. Stretching from the park entrance to Rainbow Point, there are many scenic stops along the way. Aside from the main attraction, the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater, a few other notable points of interest are Agua Canyon and Natural Bridge.
Hiking Trails: Zion Vs Bryce Canyon
Zion National Park has a diverse range of hiking trails. From lengthy wilderness routes and river treks to easy paved trails, Zion has a little something for everyone. The best trail in Zion is The Narrows!
Bryce Canyon National Park has a diverse range of hiking trails as well. There are backcountry routes and steep inner-amphitheater hikes, but there are also more leisure routes along the rim and outside the amphitheater, too. The best trails in Bryce Canyon are the Queen’s Garden, Navajo, and Peek-a-Boo trails – you can combine them into one giant loop, the Figure 8 Combination!
→ READ NEXT: 6 Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park 🥾
Camping: Zion Vs Bryce Canyon
Zion National Park has three frontcountry campgrounds: Watchman, South, and Lava Point. Watchman is open year-round; reservations are always required. South is partially closed for a long-term rehabilitation project; make reservations in the open part of the campground up to two weeks ahead of time. Lava Point is typically open May through September; reservations will be available on a 2-week rolling window. Backcountry camping is allowed with a wilderness permit in one of the dozens of designated sites.
Bryce Canyon National Park has two frontcountry campgrounds: North and Sunset. North Campground is open year-round; reservations are required from May 19th – October 7th. Sunset Campground is open April 15th-October 31st on a first-come, first-served basis. Backcountry camping is allowed in the 10 designated sites only, and hikers must have a permit.
→ READ NEXT: Complete Guide to Exploring Zion National Park
Winter Access: Zion Vs Bryce Canyon
Zion National Park offers winter access for those who want to escape the crowds and the heat. Winters in Zion are cold and wet, and snow is possible in the high elevations. High temperatures hover in the 50s and 60s during the day and can dip below freezing at night. The Zion Canyon scenic road is plowed and open to vehicles, but certain hiking trails can close due to snow and ice.
Bryce Canyon National Park offers winter access for those who want to escape the crowds and the heat. Since Bryce Canyon sits at such a high elevation, be prepared for significant snowfall – the average is 8-9 feet annually! Highs in the winter months range from the 30s to 40s and lows typically fall below freezing. Part of the Rim Trail and Navajo Loop Trail closes, but visitors can go hiking, backcountry hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, etc.
→ Like these comparison articles? I’ve got another comparison of ARCHES VS CANYONLANDS! Check it out here.
Dogs: Zion Vs Bryce Canyon
Zion National Park only allows leashed pets on public roads, parking areas, developed campgrounds and picnic areas, on the grounds of the Zion Lodge, and on the Pa’rus hiking trail. ⚠️ Keep dogs out of the water; there is currently a toxic cyanobacteria bloom in the Virgin River.
Bryce Canyon National Park only allows leashed pets on paved surfaces: campgrounds, parking lots, paved roads, paved viewpoint areas (all viewpoints except Piracy Point), on the Rim Trail between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point, and on the paved Shared Use Path between the park entrance and Inspiration Point.
PAVEMENT AND PAW SAFETY
|77ºF / 25ºC
|125ºF / 52ºC
|86ºF / 30ºC
|135ºF / 57ºC
|87ºF / 31ºC
|143ºF / 62ºC
|102ºF / 39ºC
|167ºF / 75ºC
Amenities: Zion Vs Bryce Canyon
Zion National Park has campgrounds, visitor centers, restrooms, picnic areas, and potable water.
Bryce Canyon National Park has campgrounds, a visitor center, restrooms, picnic areas, and potable water.
Crowds: Zion Vs Bryce Canyon
Zion National Park can get extremely crowded in the spring, summer, and fall. The park received 4.6 million visitors in 2022.
Bryce Canyon National Park can also get crowded in the spring, summer, and fall, but it is not as popular/crowded as Zion. The park received 2.3 million visitors in 2022.
→ READ NEXT: How to Avoid Crowds When Hiking 🥾
Size: Zion Vs Bryce Canyon
Zion National Park – 148,733 acres, more than 4x as big as Bryce Canyon!
Bryce Canyon National Park- 35,835 acres
Zion or Bryce Canyon: FAQs
I Just Have One Day – Should I Visit Zion or Bryce Canyon?
If you only have one day, I’d explore Bryce Canyon. It is much smaller than Zion, and the highlights can be conquered in a single day.
For one day in Bryce Canyon, I’d recommend hiking the Figure 8 Loop (Navajo, Queen’s Garden, and Peekaboo) at sunrise, walking part of the Rim Trail, driving the scenic road and stopping at the overlooks, and watching the sunset over the amphitheater rim.
If you only have one day in Zion, read my guide here for the perfect 24-hour itinerary!
Can I See Zion and Bryce Canyon in One Day?
Seeing both parks thoroughly in one day isn’t realistic.
But if you wanted to skim through the parks, you could technically make this happen. You could enter Zion before sunrise, hike a trail or two, and then drive two hours to Bryce Canyon, where you would have time to drive the scenic road or hike part of the Rim Trail.
How Far is Bryce Canyon From Zion National Park?
The distance from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon is about 2 hours.
Which Is Better – Zion or Bryce Canyon?
This is a loaded question!
To come up with the “better” park, I factored in recreation, scenery, crowds, amenities, accessibility, and trails. I reveal my rankings in my Utah National Parks Ranked Best to Worst guide.
With all of those factors considered, Bryce Canyon came out on top. But it all depends on which factors you put the most weight on. Read my guide to see how I ranked all of the Utah National Parks.
Zion Vs Bryce Canyon: Final Verdict
If you are still torn about which park you should visit, here is a lightning-round style chart to help you:
Only have one day? Bryce Canyon
Have multiple days? Zion (or both!)
Want to get away from the crowds? Bryce Canyon
Want diverse backpacking opportunities? Zion
Want the freedom to drive around the park? Bryce Canyon
Want cooler temperatures or to see snow? Bryce Canyon
Need Help Planning Your Zion or Bryce Canyon Trip?
Here are some Zion and Bryce Canyon guides that are up on the blog right now!
- Complete Guide to Exploring Zion National Park
- Complete Guide to Hiking the Zion Narrows
- One Day in Zion National Park
- 7 Things to Know Before Visiting Zion National Park
- Skip Angel’s Landing: Hike These Trails Instead
- 6 Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park
- How to Hike the Figure 8 Combination in Bryce Canyon
- Complete Guide to Exploring Bryce Canyon National Park
Discover Your Next Adventure
Where to next? I’ve got some suggestions!
- Arches National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Saguaro National Park
- Petrified Forest National Park
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