Utah: Bryce & Zion Canyons

Guided Walking Tour, Utah: Bryce & Zion CanyonsGuided Walking Tour, Utah: Bryce & Zion Canyons

Utah

Bryce & Zion Canyons

overview

Carved crimson cliffs and deep canyon sanctuaries reveal nature’s power on this trek into the heart of two astoundingly different regions. In Bryce Canyon National Park, discover a haunting landscape of pink-lime­stone spires, natural arches, and towering “hoodoo” rock formations. Touch some of the world’s oldest trees…cool your feet in moss-lined pools…admire majestic sunsets and wilderness vistas so unusual they verge on surreal. Then it’s on to the sandstone spectacle of Zion National Park, a geological wonder filled with rare wildlife, slot canyons, and winding rivers. Explore a colorful world of undulating slickrock, lush hanging gardens, cascading waterfalls. Be inspired by views from Echo Canyon, Angel’s Landing, Scout’s Lookout. At night, return to the comfort of a historic 1920s lodge and a stylish riverside inn, surrounded by unique flora, fragrant pine, and scenery that will forever enrich your image of the desert.

Activity Level
Moderate;
2-8 miles daily
Meet
Las Vegas, Nevada
Depart
Las Vegas, Nevada
Daily Itinerary
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From our blog

Guided Walking 
6 days, 5 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Two expert, local guides (for groups of 8 or more), with you 24/7
  • All meals except for one dinner; local wine or beer included with dinners
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Transportation from the meeting to the departure point
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the Country Walkers staff
per person double occupancy
Single supplement + $650
 

Solo surcharge + $0
 

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

 

REQUEST RESERVATION
Number of Travelers
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Price From
per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Bryce Canyon National Park
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2
Bryce Canyon National Park
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3
Springdale
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4
Springdale
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5
Springdale
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6
Springdale
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Day 1

Bryce Canyon National Park

Arrival in Las Vegas. Transfer to Bryce Canyon National Park. Timber Creek Overlook Trail; 1 mile, easy to moderate, 100-ft. elevation gain. Fairyland Rim Trail; 3 miles, easy to moderate, 350-ft. elevation gain, with easier 1⁄4-mile option or driving directly to lodge

Upon meeting your guides and group in Las Vegas, you travel by van north to Utah, to the day’s final destination of Bryce Canyon National Park, with several stops en route to break up the approximate 4-hour total drive. The drive follows the course of the Virgin River—rising almost 8,000 feet from its terminus at Lake Mead to its origin at Navajo Lake on the Colorado Plateau—the greater geologic area that includes not only Bryce and Zion Canyons, but also the Grand Canyon. Following the Old Spanish Trail, used by early Spanish explorers and later by 19th-century trappers, the drive enters the Mojave Desert, with its iconic Joshua trees. About an hour from Las Vegas, and cutting through Arizona’s northwest corner, a rest stop at the Virgin River Gorge offers dramatic scenery made up of Paleozoic Era rocks, the oldest rocks of the entire tour and the same as the first few layers of the Grand Canyon—here, be sure to look out for desert bighorn sheep.

Next stop is a walk at Kolob Canyon, in the upper portion of Zion National Park, where you stretch your legs along the ridge-top Timber Creek Overlook Trail and enjoy a picnic lunch. At an elevation of over 6,000 feet, you’ve left the Las Vegas heat behind as you look over the lower parts of Zion, established as a national park in 1919, with the addition of this Kolob portion in 1956.

Continuing the drive to Bryce Canyon, you disembark from your van at Fairyland Point, for the walk along the Fairyland Rim trail that brings you on foot to the Bryce Canyon Lodge—your home for the next two nights. Panoramic views of Bryce Canyon are a magical introduction to this area, as you walk past the red, orange, and white hoodoos, the fantastic rock spires, glowing in the afternoon light, and underneath Ponderosa pines. In the distance, you have views of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Aquarius Plateau, and Navajo Mountain. You may choose to shorten the walk, or arrive by van to your 1920s park lodge, a National Historic Landmark, its privileged location within the park providing unlimited access to the spectacle of Bryce Canyon’s rim and a crystalline night sky. You gather for dinner at the rustic-yet-elegant main lodge.

Bryce Canyon Lodge

A National Historic Landmark, the renovated 1920s park lodge offers simple rooms, most with balconies, situated a few feet from the canyon rim at the heart of the national park.

Day 2

Bryce Canyon National Park

Morning walk: Bryce Point to Sunset Point via Peekaboo and Navajo Loops; 3.5-4 miles, moderate, 700-1,000-ft. elevation gain, with longer option. Afternoon walk options: Longer option: Queen’s Garden Loop and Navajo Loop; 3 miles, easy to moderate, 500-ft. elevation gain. Shorter option: Bristlecone Loop via Rainbow and Yovimpa Points; 1 mile, easy 50-ft. elevation gain

After a hearty breakfast in the lodge’s dining room, you start today’s walk on the rim of the canyon, with spectacular views from Bryce Point of Bryce Amphitheater and the Paria River Valley beyond. Passing the multicolored limestone rock formations, both surreal and whimsical, you descend gently into the heart of the canyon, also walking through a stand of bristlecone pines—the park’s oldest living trees, said to date back over 2,000 years. You ascend gradually out of the canyon on the Navajo Loop through the “Wall Street” formation, between massive orange limestone fins—resulting from an ancient lakebed, now providing cooling shade—and continue on for a view of “Thor’s Hammer.”

This afternoon, choose from two distinct walking options: the longer, the Queen’s Garden Loop (named for a hoodoo that looks like Queen Victoria in profile) and Navajo Loop, begins and ends at your lodge, descending to the canyon floor, passing the Twin Bridges, and bringing you into Bryce Amphitheater before rising gradually.

The shorter option is reached via a 20-minute drive to Bryce’s southern point at an elevation of 9,100 feet. This easy walk beginning on the canyon rim offers tremendous views for hundreds of miles in all directions: to the north are Bryce’s 14 amphitheaters; northeast, the red and orange cliffs of the Aquarius Plateau; to the east, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, one of the world’s greatest sources of dinosaur fossils; and to the south, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is visible. This evening, you linger over refined Western fare, perhaps a grilled steak or Alaskan salmon accompanied by a Utah microbrew, at the historical lodge dining room.

Bryce Canyon Lodge

A National Historic Landmark, the renovated 1920s park lodge offers simple rooms, most with balconies, situated a few feet from the canyon rim at the heart of the national park.

Day 3

Springdale

Transfer from Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion National Park. Optional sunrise walk: Bryce Point to Sunset Point; 2.2 miles, easy. Morning walk: Red Canyon; 1.5 miles, easy to moderate, 300-ft. elevation gain. Visit to Maynard Dixon studio. Afternoon walk: Canyon Overlook Trail; 1 mile, moderate

Early risers may wish to join your guide for a serene sunrise walk; catch the early rays rising over the Aquarius Plateau, bathing the hoodoos in warm hues. After breakfast and departing the lodge, a 20-minute drive takes you to the start of a walk through Red Canyon, named for the red Claron formation that rises in stark contrast against the black rock of the Sevier fault. The winding trail traverses several tranquil canyons scented with Ponderosa and Pinyon pines, juniper, sage, and “lemonade bush,” the berries of which were used by native peoples to make a refreshing beverage. You zigzag across slopes of red and orange hoodoos, passing the Pink Ledges, Hoodoo, and Birdseye View trails.

Continuing on the route to Zion, you stop for lunch at the home and studio of Maynard Dixon, the early 20th-century painter who drew inspiration from western landscapes, especially the big skies of the canyon country. An art historian guides you through the grounds and gallery, which also features the work of other contemporary artists, and then the shaded garden provides a perfect picnic lunch spot.

You may choose to continue directly to your next accommodation, or walk the Canyon Overlook Trail, which offers expansive views of Pine Creek Canyon, the East Temple, and the west side of Zion. The entrance to Zion Canyon is breathtaking. You emerge from the historic Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, which was cut laboriously through 1.1 miles of sandstone, and descend into Zion’s main canyon, carved out of wind-blown sandstone by the Virgin River. A true natural wonder, not only due to its unique geology and stunning scenery, but also for the incredible variety of flora and fauna—from peregrine falcons to the desert tortoise and the Zion snail, found nowhere else on Earth. In addition to its rich natural history, evidence of human history extends back 2,000 years to the Ancestral Puebloans, as well as the Paiutes of 800 years ago.

Your home for the next three nights is an inn resort along the Virgin River, in the charming town of Springdale. After some time to unpack and freshen up in your spacious room, you venture out for dinner at a favorite local restaurant.

Desert Pearl Inn

Springdale, Utah

Local stone, Douglas fir beams, and reclaimed redwood are architecturally designed to create a perfect setting at the gates of Zion National Park. The inn’s spacious and stylishly decorated rooms have balconies overlooking the Virgin River and surrounding cliffs. A swimming pool and hot tub are welcome at day’s end.

Day 4

Springdale

Scout’s Lookout; 4 miles, moderate to challenging, 1300-ft. elevation gain; Angel’s Landing; 5 miles, challenging with steep exposures

After breakfast, you set off from the Grotto trailhead on a moderate walk to Scout’s Lookout (elevation gain of 1,300 feet). A winding trail leads from the valley floor through a series of switchbacks into Refrigerator Canyon, where, as its name implies, you are sheltered and cooled from the desert sun. You continue through Walter’s Wiggles, closely cut switchbacks leading to the spectacular Scout’s Lookout. The park unfolds below, with views of the Virgin River and canyon walls.

From here your option is to ascend the dramatic Angel’s Landing Trail another half mile and 500 feet up to a peak of rock in the center of Zion Canyon or hike a few hundred feet farther up the West Rim, where you’ll share a packed trail lunch with your companions under a Ponderosa pine on top of the world. Everyone will descend the same route to the river in the early afternoon.

The rest of the afternoon is yours to enjoy by relaxing at your inn’s inviting swimming pool and hot tub, or by taking advantage of the visitors’ center at Zion National Park. Part of this visit may include the park’s IMAX theater, which features an excellent film highlighting the region’s fascinating natural and human history.

This evening, you return to Springdale for dinner on your own, with your guides offering many suggestions, ranging from outdoor cafés to fine-dining restaurants.

Desert Pearl Inn

Springdale, Utah

Local stone, Douglas fir beams, and reclaimed redwood are architecturally designed to create a perfect setting at the gates of Zion National Park. The inn’s spacious and stylishly decorated rooms have balconies overlooking the Virgin River and surrounding cliffs. A swimming pool and hot tub are welcome at day’s end.

Day 5

Springdale

Echo Canyon; 5-6 miles, moderate to challenging, 1000-ft. elevation gain; and Riverside Walk along the Virgin River; 2 miles, easy. The Narrows; 5 miles, easy to moderate. Water-level dependent

After breakfast in a nearby café, the first destination is Weeping Rock, from where you depart for the walk to Echo Canyon, a beautiful “hanging canyon” with gorgeous carved curves of orange sandstone, and towering Cable Mountain soaring overhead. Starting with a few uphill switchbacks, the paved trail continues to climb about 1,000 feet up to middle Echo Canyon, with its pools and undulating slickrock, a marvel of Nature’s artistry. You return by the same route out of this beautiful canyon.

Following a packed picnic lunch in the heart of the park, your guides offer an additional afternoon walk to the Gateway of the Narrows. This easy, popular walk along the Virgin River begins at the farthest end of Zion Canyon at the Temple of Sinawava. As you walk beneath massive cliffs, you pass a number of lush hanging gardens and pockets of wildflowers.

Should the water level be conducive, you may have the option of doing The Narrows. One of the most remarkable hikes in Zion is the walk up the Narrows, the slot canyon carved by the Virgin River beyond the one-mile, paved Riverside Walk. When water in the Narrows is low enough to be safe, you will have the opportunity to try this amazing adventure. You wade across the river to the opposite shore, continue walking upon the river bank, then again crisscross the water in order to make headway up the canyon, as the river winds its way from one side canyon wall to the other side wall. Beneath the towering 1,500-foot cliffs of Navajo sandstone, box elders shine greenly amidst the amber rock, and the sky becomes a ribbon of blue high above. The bottom-up walk is 1½ miles to Orderville Canyon, where you turn around and return the same way you came, going with the flow and discovering how adept you have become walking in the water. You will be equipped with all the right gear to make the trip comfortable: water boots, neoprene socks, and walking sticks. (Please be sure to have quick-dry pants as noted in the packing list.) For those who simply want to keep their feet dry, there will be an alternative walk to the Emerald Pools.

This evening you venture into lively Springdale for a celebratory farewell dinner at a favorite local restaurant serving fresh, innovative cuisine.

Desert Pearl Inn

Springdale, Utah

Local stone, Douglas fir beams, and reclaimed redwood are architecturally designed to create a perfect setting at the gates of Zion National Park. The inn’s spacious and stylishly decorated rooms have balconies overlooking the Virgin River and surrounding cliffs. A swimming pool and hot tub are welcome at day’s end.

Day 6

Springdale

Red Cliffs archaeological site; 2 miles, easy to moderate, 200-ft. elevation gain. Departure from Las Vegas

After breakfast, a final walk takes you through the Red Cliffs archaeological site. The Ancestral Puebloans (formerly known as the Anasazi) lived here from 600 to 1200 A.D., and it is thought they left the region in search of the permanent water source of the Rio Grande, where their descendants, the modern Pueblo Indians, live today. The hilltop site contains the rectangular and circular ruins of numerous habitation and storage rooms, and likely provided clear views of enemies and game. Below were the flatter areas for farming corn, squash, and beans, and the water source at the cottonwood-lined Quail Creek. It’s still possible to find 1,000-year-old pottery shards on the ground, underneath the red sandstone cliffs. After the walk, you enjoy lunch at a lovely restaurant in Ancestor Square in St. George, Utah, which features locally grown organic fare with Southwest flavors. The three-hour drive leaves the Colorado Plateau as you descend back into the Mojave Desert and Basin and Range Province of the Nevada lowlands, bidding farewell to the colorful canyons.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a Country Walkers adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call Country Walkers at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

Guides

Carolyn Beecher

Carolyn Beecher is in her element in Glacier National Park, where she has been guiding for over 20 years. Her love of nature is contagious as she offers fun facts about flora, wildlife, geology, and cultural history. She makes her home in the foothills of Montana's Mission Mountains, where she has lived and worked since 1980. Also a big fan of Utah's canyon country, she has been backpacking and exploring the red rocks and slot canyons since the 1980s. She'll tune your ears to the song of the canyon wren, and open your eyes to the big skies of the West—sharing the intricacies of nature’s tapestry is her passion.

Heather Harding

Heather Harding has been guiding for many years on both Washington's Olympic Peninsula, where she lives, and in the canyons and plateaus of the Southwest, where she earned college degrees in biology and Southwest Studies. Heather brings a world-wide background of whale research and Waldorf teaching to her guiding. Heather winters on Maui, where she runs her non-profit whale foundation, with her partner and frequent co-guide Eric Kessler.

Guest Comments

J. Kanne, Maryland, May 2013

Fantastic! The Virgin River walk was more fun than anything I have done since I was 12!

T. McCabe, Washington, May 2013

The two guides, Heather Harding and Carolyn Beecher were outstanding. Their leadership skills, knowledge of the vast area, attention to detail and tireless service to the group was a major reason my wife and I enjoyed this adventure so much.

M. Glassman, Nebraska, May 2012

This was a great tour. Scenic beauty, great guides, great food and accommodations.

S. Bartlett, Connecticut, June 2010

Each of my CW trips has been excellent—the destinations have certainly enhanced my appreciation for natural and cultural beauty. The guides hospitality and attention to details make my adventures all the more enjoyable.

O. Pittet & M. Crowley, New Jersey, May 2012

Hard to pick a favorite and in all cases the scenery, the hiking and the guides we just magnificent!

G. Rothman, New Jersey, September 2010

This was a fabulous trip. The scenery is breathtaking and walks well planned. We loved every minute of our adventure and appreciated the excellent planning and support provided by our guides Carolyn and Heather.

M. Beck, Nevada, May 2012

Photos of Zion and Bryce are beautiful but there is nothing as wonderful as walking amongst, above and below, the colorful amazing giants millions of years in the making!

M. Wells, New Jersey, September 2011

This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I have fabulous photos to prove it.

K. Grims, Pennsylvania, May 2012

I appreciate the small size groups. It affords the guests and the guides to get to know everyone better. I am always amazed how well traveled the guests are. It "wets my appetite" to travel to places I've not been.

S. Reines, Pennsylvania, May 2012

Carolyn and Heather are both terrific.

R. Kramek, Texas, May 2012

Exceptionally well planned.

B. Stem, Georgia, May 2012

Surprisingly beautiful and challenging.

T. Rossi, Massachusetts, May 2012

Wonderful time, great guides and fellow travelers.

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