Bryce and Antelope Canyon have been on my list for quite some time now. I saw a images of the ‘Horseshoe Bend’ on Instagram and instantly fell in love. The short trip can get exhausting but a long weekend is plenty of time to visit the parks and really take the nature in. If you have more time on your hands, this trip can easily be coupled with Zion Nation Park as well. I have spoken in detail about Zion in another post that you can find here - Zion National Park
The best way to start your trip is to fly into either Las Vegas or Phoenix - I personally recommend Las Vegas as there is just so much to do there if you have a spare day or two. The drive to Bryce Canyon is approximately 4 hours from Vegas. You cross over from Nevada to Arizona and then enter Utah.
You can rent a car from Las Vegas Airport and drive to either Springdale or Orderville, Utah on day1. We booked an Airbnb for 2 night at Orderville. Although it is 1 hour away from the Visitor Center, Orderville has a cute downtown area with really good Mexican food places.
You can visit these locations almost anytime through the year. Summer(May to September) is always a very popular time for many. To avoid the crowds, October or March/April prove to be really good times as the weather is still not as cold but the crowds are not as high too.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Located in the south of Utah, this park is one of the many boons that Utah has to offer. Bryce Canyon is famous for its many ‘Hoodoos’ i.e the irregular columns of rocks that you see in the pictures.
Along with the many hoodoos, Bryce Canyon also offers one of the best locations to star gaze. There is very minimum light pollution here and that makes this an ideal location to gaze into the night sky.
Sunset Point, Sunrise Point, Inspiration Point
Some of the more popular spots to visit in the park include - Sunset and Sunrise points, Inspiration point and Bryce point. There are several hidden hikes within the hoodoos that you can take as well. You can also walk along the rim while taking in the gorgeous view that stretches beyond the horizons. The Fairyland Loop trail(takes about 3 hours to complete and is tagged as moderate) and Peek-a-boo(shorter but more crowd than the Fairyland) are the more popular hikes.
The Queens Garden is also very popular but it was under renovation when we were visiting. It is also a really popular 3mi hike. Inspiration point has several telescopes set after sunset for travellers to view different celestial objects. A ranger is usually present to walk you through what is visible.
One of my favourite view from within the park was the Rainbow point. You can embark on a short hike (Bristlecone Loop trail) that gives you a different perspective of the park. You also get a short break from the hoodoos and can see the more green side of the park.
Farther into the park, you will find the Natural Bridge, a rock arch that was formed due to water corroding through the rocks. It is quite exciting to see a naturally formed arch.
From Orderville, we started to make our way to Page, AZ which is about an hour and half drive. The drive itself is very scenic and shorter in comparison to the previous days hectic schedule. Around an hour into the trip, we made a pitstop at Wahweap. The ‘Wahweap Overlook’ has the most gorgeous views of the Wahweap bay.
I really loved just sitting still and taking in the gorgeous mountains, the vast clear blue sky and the crystal clear water below.
One of the most important things to note to here and the biggest tip I can give is to keep track of the time. This is where two time zones collide and it can get quite confusing as to what the time really is.
The Horseshoe bend is about a 5 minute drive from downtown Page. Horseshoe bend is notably one of the most touristy location in Utah. I honestly thought it would be underwhelming but after the short 0.6 mile one-way hike to the bend, I was blown away. The bend is really breath-taking and truly worth the hype. There is a parking lot at the start of the hike. The parking fee for vehicles is $10USD.
The bend is famous for its sunset and sunrise views. We stayed a while among the crowd. There were a LOT of people but everyone was very respectable and just enjoying the view.
For day 2, we rented another Airbnb in Page.
Antelope Canyon National Park
The Antelope Canyons are about a 15 minute drive from downtown Page.
There are two walking and guided tours of the Antelope Canyon - The Upper and Lower Canyon Tours. Both of these tours are quite similar and equally wonderful. I went on the lower canyon hike and similar to the horseshoe bend, had low expectations but was very surprised at how pretty the canyons are!
For the lower canyon, there is a steep drop and people with a phobia of heights are recommended to steer clear of this hike. Bookings for the guided-tour sell out really fast so I highly recommend buying your tickets in advance. It usually costs around $40USD per person. We booked Ken’s Tour and our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. The hikes are 1mile round trip and usually takes about 1 hour to complete.
The walking is at a relatively fast pace so you don’t get to spend a lot of time really admiring the unique formations in the rocks but it is still a distinctive experience. There are many slots throughout the day and the noon spot is the most coveted one and sell out first.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes
This was the last day of our trip and after the canyon tour, we made our way back to Las Vegas. On our way back, we stopped at “Coral Pink Sand Dunes”. It is along the way - about 1.5 hours from Page and makes for a nice stop for a quick stretch.