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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: ZiziPB on November 06, 2016, 04:33:16 AM

Title: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: ZiziPB on November 06, 2016, 04:33:16 AM
My brother and SIL will be visiting from Europe in May of next year and the 3 of us would like to do a GC, Zion and Bryce trip in the second half of May.  Flying in and out Las Vegas, most likely,  and renting a car there.  We're flexible on the duration but thought 8 days would be a good length of time?  Not interested in camping, but would like to do some hiking, take in the views, maybe rafting?

Would appreciate any suggestions.
Title: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: pbkmaine on November 06, 2016, 04:40:15 AM
Are they as fit as you are? Some of the trails out there are fairly demanding, and you will need to keep that in mind. Good sturdy walking shoes are essential. I have always thought that you can experience those places in two ways: 1) By walking around the perimeter and taking photos and 2) By getting into them and experiencing them. Which would your brother and SIL prefer?
Title: Re: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: ZiziPB on November 06, 2016, 04:50:48 AM
They are reasonably fit.  Not sure how any of us will react to the altitude and dry desert heat, though, as none of us are used to it.  My brother and I definitely would like to "get into them", SIL is less adventurous but will do short hikes (3-4 miles), as long as it's not every day :-)
Title: Re: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: kpd905 on November 06, 2016, 05:06:36 AM
Zion will be absolutely beautiful in May, because all of the plants will be lush and green in the valley, contrasting with the red rock.

I would really recommend two different hikes if you go there: Angel's Landing and the Narrows.  Angel's Landing is a big climb with some areas featuring chains to hold onto on the narrow ledges.  But when you get to the top, you have an amazing view overlooking the valley.

Here is a picture from Angel's Landing: (

The Narrows is a hike up the river where you will be surrounded by walls of red rock a couple hundred feet tall, with the river sometimes only 30 feet wide.  For this hike I would highly recommend going to one of the gear shops in Springdale and renting a pair of their boots.  They will give you a pair of boots, neoprene socks and a walking stick, all of which will help you be a lot more comfortable on this hike.  The boots made it so we never slipped on a wet rock.

Here is a picture of the Narrows: (

I have not been to Bryce, but keep in mind that with the higher elevation there will be cooler temperatures there.  A quick search shows average highs of 64 F and lows of 37 F in May for Bryce. 

I can't give info on the Grand Canyon, but I am planning a possible Rim to Rim to Rim hike for March, so I'll report back after that.
Title: Re: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: ZiziPB on November 06, 2016, 05:18:16 AM
Thanks kpd905!  Amazing pictures and great tips.
Title: Re: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: fasteddie911 on November 06, 2016, 07:18:47 AM
I visited those parks (along with others in Southern Utah and Colorado) just this past May.  We spent about 9 days on the road, flying in/out of Vegas, driving as far as SE Colorado (Telluride) and it was some of the most amazing scenery. We were mostly interested in sightseeing, but did a little bit of hiking here and there.  May was the perfect time as far as weather went and traffic/crowds weren't bad.  For Zion, I'd suggest also checking out Kolob Canyon, which is on the north side of the park, much less visited and pretty awesome view of a different canyon.  Also suggest the canyon overlook trail which gives a stunning view of the valley (a different angle compared to angels landing).  Not much to add about Bryce as we just did the scenic lookouts, but it is a higher elevation and a bit cooler, but you shouldn't have issues with altitude.  Grand canyon we just did a drive through as well and don't have much to add, but depending how you get there, would suggest checking out Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon which are both near Page, AZ, and were both incredible.  Upper antelope canyon is more popular but we did the lower canyon which had ladders to climb but was stunning as well.
Title: Re: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: Jaguar Paw on November 06, 2016, 07:32:56 AM
Depending on when you go in May, it may still be quite chilly. I did a rim to rim to rim of Grand Canyon a few years ago and it was snowing at the top of both rims during the second week of May. Someone also mentioned on here doing the r2r2r during March and I believe (I could be wrong) that the water is turned off at the spots going up the north rim due to pipes freezing. This means that u less you bring all your own water, you'd be screwed.

To the op, talk with your family and see if y'all want to look at the Grand Canyon or go into it. Going down to the river was one of my first real hikes and got me really excited about the outdoors. Zion is beautiful and the two best hikes have already been mentioned. Hopefully may is an offish pert of the season and you beat the crowds!
Title: Re: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: Khaetra on November 06, 2016, 07:41:53 AM
You will want warm clothes.  I went in May and stayed at the South Rim and imagine my surprise when I woke up to find it snowing.  It also gets pretty windy and it's very dry so a lot of water is a must!
Title: Re: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: GreenSheep on November 06, 2016, 07:45:04 AM
I live in Phoenix and traveled to Page/Lake Powell to work a few days each month for 3 years. Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are definitely worth doing on your way to the national parks. I used to stop by Horseshoe Bend on my way home from work in the morning sometimes, just to get some fresh air and enjoy the view and shake off work stress. Horseshoe Bend is about a 10-minute walk from the car to a jaw-dropping view.

A nice scenic drive, if you have a national parks annual pass anyway, is to go into the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area (Google Lake Powell Resort and go in that entrance) and just drive around. It only takes about 10-15 minutes, plus whatever time you want to stop for photos. The road goes along the lake, and there are excellent views.

Also consider getting a permit ($10 or so) for Water Holes Canyon, which is a relatively short hike just off route 89, just south of Horseshoe Bend. (Google for where to get the permit... I've forgotten the specific locations.) It's similar to Antelope Canyon, but you don't need to pay a guide. When I went, I was the only one there until I ran into another couple at the very end.

If you happen to have enough time, kayaking the lower part of Antelope Canyon is a gorgeous way to spend an afternoon. Kayak Powell is a kayak rental outfit in Page. No need for a roof rack -- they'll hook you up with straps and pool noodles to carry the kayak(s). (Another nice kayak trip for another time, with people who camp, is to go from Lee's Ferry upriver (with a backhaul or on your own if you're a very strong kayaker) to the dam, then back down. You go through Horseshoe Bend, and there are really nice sandy campsites along the way. Stars at night like you wouldn't believe!)

I'm usually okay with heights, but I was absolutely terrified by Angel's Landing. I did it, but I will never do it again. Shockingly horrible. Beautiful views, though. If you're not bothered by the height and the steep drop-off inches from your feet, it's worth doing. (I may be a bit biased by the fact that on my first trip to Zion, there were body recovery crews looking for someone who had fallen off Angel's Landing.)

The Narrows hike is definitely a must-do. I'd take a couple of hiking poles or even just sticks to give yourself "four wheel drive" to help minimize slipping and falling into the river. (My then-boyfriend laughed at me for this and actually fell into the river while laughing. He now does hikes like that with hiking poles.) It's not very deep in most places, but it can be cold in May!

If you can get permits (see the national park website and Google for stunning photos) for the Subway, that's another must-do hike. It's similar to the Narrows in the sense that you hike up a very shallow (though not narrow until the subway part) river, but you end up in amazing rock formations, and you can do the entire hike (as far as the point where you'd need to start rappelling, anyway), up and back, in a day. (The Narrows hike is best done from upriver, but that requires getting a shuttle to take you there and camping for one night on the way downriver.)

My favorite place to stay near Zion is Desert Pearl in Springdale. Nice little hotel with a pool and hot tub, within walking distance of the park entrance.

I haven't hiked down inside Bryce, but I've driven to/through it. Even if you end up not having time to hike there, the drive from Zion to Bryce is beautiful, and it's definitely worth just walking to the overlooks from the parking lots. It looks like another planet.

You're making me want to get back out into my own backyard! That's one of the most beautiful parts of the country in my opinion.
Title: Re: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: ZiziPB on November 07, 2016, 03:36:36 AM
Thank you all - great tips and suggestions.  I appreciate you all chiming in, especially GreenSheep!

Keep them coming!
Title: Re: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: AlmstRtrd on November 07, 2016, 05:31:19 AM
Just a few things to add to what others have written.

The end of May is already quite warm in Bryce and Zion and the European tourists
are definitely there by then. It's good to book accommodations in advance. Bryce
is amazing but can probably be done as a day trip from Zion. It's a two-hour drive
each way and a hike down to and out of the canyon is not terribly strenuous. You'd
probably want to stick around until sunset as the scenery changes a lot with
the light.

Angels Landing in Zion IS scary on the landing itself but there is a great lookout
maybe 50' vertical feet from the top. If one is scared of heights (a healthy thing to
fear!), it's not necessary to go out onto the landing itself. Up to the lookout I am
talking about, the whole trail is paved. The first half is easy and the last part is very
steep. Elevation gain is about 2,000 feet.

Regarding temperatures in The Grand Canyon, when hiking in and out, you'll go
through five climate zones (it gets a lot warmer as you descend) so dress in layers.
Going down and back up in the same day is only as feasible for the super fit. It's
a must to carry lots of water and some food.
Title: Re: Tips for Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in May
Post by: mm1970 on November 07, 2016, 11:24:42 AM
We went to Zion and Bryce in late March this year (spring break).  We had some nice hiking, though not so scary as Angel's Landing with the kiddos (who were 10 and 3 at the time).

Zion, we basically did the hike along the river to where the Narrows starts, and we also did a loop to the upper pools.

Bryce we did the Queen's Garden loop, with fantastic views.

We visited Page once, and did a boat tour down the river, and it was fantastic. 

For both Zion and Bryce, we went up to the Park Ranger and said "what kind of hike do you recommend for kids our age?"  And that's what we did.  They recommended a couple of hikes that from reading the description, I would have considered to be too hard.  But they were not.  (Keeping in mind that the 3 year old spent about half of the time on my husband's back).