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Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

Torrance, California
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Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

Hello Guys, I have recently created my ID and find this site very interesting and you all guys are very knowledgable about the places and really help to decide the trips.

I earlier posted in a wrong place so reposting my question. I am from LA and planning to visit Vegas and then Zion national park . I was earlier thinking of covering Grand canyon too but now I think it would be too long drive. So I am concetrating on one place that is from LA to vegas to Zion. Please see the details of my trip below which I have planned. Also to let you know I would be travelling with my wife and 2 yr old toddler.

1) 25th early Morning would start from LA to Vegas. Would spend the night in vegas.

2) Next day 26th in afternoon, I would start for Zion National park. Would like to spend the 26th and 27th night in Zion .

3) 28th morning would leave for back to vegas and spend a night in vegas and then next day back to LA.

-->I am interested in doing hiking/trekkingand visit the scenic beauties of Zion properly. Please consider in mind that with us would be our 2 yr old toddler...so in consideration of that... is it possible to do little bit hiking atleast and enjoy the scenic beauties of the park.

-->Secondly, I want to know good place to stay there. I know inside the zion park the lodge is expensive for me....so is there any inexpensive hotel/lodge/motel there very near of zion park in which family can stay from where we can go to the park daily.

-->As I am going in time of Dec last week , I hope that time also we can enjoy the beauties and trek the park.

Looking forward eagerly with your expert suggestions and views. If time and situation permits would also like to Grand canyon park and stay a night there

Kipling. SK
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1. Re: Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

Hi Dazz

From Las Vegas to Springdale is about two and a half hour drive time, so if you leave LV at 12pm, you will arrive at Springdale at 330pm. Keep an eye on the weather, especially in the area of the Virgin River Gorge on I15 between Mesquite and St George.

In December, there is no shuttle bus travelling the scenic drive, so you will still have some time to enter the park and enjoy some scenery before it gets dark, and you have to check into a hotel. I recommend parking at the visitor center, and enjoying the parus trail along the river and by the south campground. Alternatively, you can access the visitor center and Parus trail from the park pedestrian access, which is located between the park VC and the Cable Mountain/Zion theatre courtyard.

With your full day, I would travel into the park by car. In the morning is a good time to enjoy the Springdale/Mt Carmel route or SR hwy9 from town up to the east entrance. While the lighting is a little poor in this side canyon due to the shadows, it is a good drive that can easily burn up a couple of hours in the cooler morning moments. Later on in the morning, then head into the main canyon. Hiking trails to look for which will be quite safe will be lower Emerald Pools from the lodge, and Riverside Walk from the Temple of Sinawava. Use the rest of the day(which is short)to enjoy the various stops/photo opportunities along the main canyon route>> nps.gov/zion/…HikingGuide2013-4.pdf

For your visit to Zion, you will want to stay at Springdale. This small town has a large array of hotels, from familiar chain types to unique lodge types. All of them are more or less located along Zion park blvd, and most are walking distance from each other, as well as restaurants and shops. Rates in December can be a lot lower than what you would find during the summer months, so check rates if you have the time as they can vary from place to place, no matter how they are rated here on TA. Desert Pearl is the forum favorite, and has been as low as $105 a night during the winter months. We have also stayed at the best western, cable mountain, and driftwood. Other places mentioned on the forums has been Zion Park motel, Pioneer, la Quinta, Majestic, and Flanigans. The hotel list and restaurant list can be found at www.zionpark.com

Skim through the park newspaper for other info you might find useful>> nps.gov/zion/…ZionFallMG2013.pdf

Note that in later December, there is a chance of snow, which may not necessarily disappear too quickly. Temps at night will go below the freezing mark. Some of the paths/all of the paths can have icy sections, though the ones noted are fairly level. Plan your trip accordingly with warm layers and proper shoes/boots.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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2. Re: Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

>>>" Keep an eye on the weather, especially in the area of the Virgin River Gorge on I15 between Mesquite and St George">>>

WidmarshSK,

.Can you please clarify what weather concerns there could be when traveling through the Gorge? Im not really aware of any except the wind which can be windy! . I dont travel in that area in the winter months as much, but have never had what I would call bad weather ? Just wondering :)

I can see there may be weather issue farther past Hurricane and on the way to Zion though.

Kipling. SK
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3. Re: Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

@ happytotrip

I have not encountered any snow through the gorge, but I believe it is possible, but remote as you no doubt are eluding to. Maybe there is never any snow or rain in that section, but it is still a tricky section of road I have not had any problems between St George and Springdale, and i would not be concerned with that stretch with light snow.

I will assume that the Virgin River Gorge on I15 is a non concern for most experienced travellers.I am just drawing attention to it, even though I may be in error.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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4. Re: Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

WidmarshSK,

Thanks for the added info, was just wondering what kind of weather you may have encountered as I have not had any issues with that area. No snow there that Im aware of, but I suppose anything is possible ;)

Salt Lake City, Utah
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5. Re: Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

Greetings Dazz and welcome to the forums and the desert.

The hiking in Zion is very diverse with options for families with toddlers. There are gear outfitters in town that might be able to rent yaktrax or something similar if icy trails are a concern. You'll likely have much of the park to yourself. May encounter more wildlife than in the summer as the herds will seek lower elevations and there aren't as many people. Here is a great hiking guide. Click a trail for descriptions and photos.

www.citrusmilo.com/zionguide/allhikes.cfm

I think it's a wise call to forgo the Grand Canyon for this trip. It would be a lot of extra driving for the amount of time you could spend there.

As mentioned, snow is a possibility. Keep your eye on the weather forecasts and plan accordingly. The average amount of snowfall in December is 1.5 inches, but the record is over a foot. I wouldn't worry too much about the snow, but take precaution and have a plan as if it were to be expected.

zion-national-park.info/weather-climate.htm

Have fun.

San Francisco
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6. Re: Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

I found that Cable Mountain Lodge in Springdale, right near the park, had very good rates in November. (I haven't stayed there yet, though.) Only $80.00 (with AAA discount) for a room with a king bed.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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7. Re: Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

At the moment this is more a Las Vegas trip with a side trip to Zion than it is a Zion trip.

Is that on purpose?

If it were me I would make the drive to LV, enjoy the afternoon and evening there on the 25th

Then head to Zion in the morning...why wait till afternoon?

Still two nights in Zion, but wait till the afternoon of the 28th to make the trip back to Las Vegas. Why spend another afternoon and night in LV? (obviously LV is not somewhere I tend to spend a lot of time, though I certainly understand it.)

I'm just wondering if you have looked at those times and are doing it on purpose. Because you could give yourselves two more half days (totaling another full day) in the Zion area. So instead of just one day you'd have closer to two. Which to me would be much better- even in Dec and with a toddler, meaning you wouldn't be able to do much hiking anyway.

You certainly don't have time for the Grand Canyon unless you leave Las Vegas out and head straight to the Grand Canyon via 40 and Kingman.

While that would be possible you'd add considerable mileage and thus time to the driving portion. Not a good thing to do on such a short trip.

Zion should be accessible unless there is snow or ice. The best trails for an short visit would be Riverside Trail, Kayenta Trail to Lower Emerald Pools, Pa'rus trail, and maybe Watchman. Grotto trail is also available. None of those have much elevation change and will give you a nice overview of the park. You will be able to keep close to the car if you need something for your child or decide to adjust your visit, so that will be nice. Look for the turkeys and resident deer herd.

Springdale has a wide variety of hotels. I haven't heard or visited any that were horrible, some are just newer or fancier than others. Try the Best Western, or Pioneer.

Torrance, California
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8. Re: Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

Thanks a lot WidmarshSK, shake801, sanfranjellybean and Kbecjeans for your valuable suggestions and tips.

Kbecjeans - No my main trip is for Zion Park as this is my first time to this park and LV is just night stay while going and coming back. I was saying to leave LV in afternoon incase I wake up late in LV :)

Guys, I have never been in winters that too in Dec in National Parks...so I was just worried and I hope that in winter time during end of dec would have its own beauty to visit there. I am very excited to go to Zion Park and also excited to go in winter time but just little bit concerned also

Can we take the car inside the park and keep it in the parking there? Or is the the parking mostly gets full? Or can we also roam inside the Park with car and keep it in different places in the park and do some normal hiking ?

any specific route I shud take from vegas to Zion for good scenic drive orshud I follow just as my GPS says? and do you suggest any other good places to visit in springdale....not sure If I can get time other than zion....I think zion park has enough in itself and would keep me busy for complete 2 days

Also one more thing, is it necessary to take an SUV 4WD car during that time of the trip.....or I can take any car like hyundai accent or Camry?

Thanks so much taking out time to reply my queries..looking forward to your suggestions

Kipling. SK
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9. Re: Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

In December, there is no shuttle running through the park, so you must rely on your vehicle to get around. There is parking at all trailheads and at the spots where the shuttle stops in the warmer months. There are also various pulloffs scattered about for people wanting to stop along the route. While parking is quite limited, the only parking spot i have found overflowing by mid day is the grotto parking lot, which is the trailhead for the well known West Rim trail/Scouts Lookout/Angels Landing. The main parking area for the park is at the visitor center, which you will reach by vehicle when you enter the southwest entrance. See the hiking guide provided, page two.

As you have probably gathered by the exchange between Happytotrip and I, snow is not common in the Zion area. The southern portion of Zion(of which you will be visiting)sits on the edge of the Mojave desert, and therefore boasts a similar climate. But because it is on the edge, you can still receive different weather as you climb rapidly in elevation from south to north Zion. That being said, a car is suitable for visiting Zion. Springdale and the main canyon sit on a relatively level grade. The drive from canyon junction up to the Zion Mt Carmel tunnel involves some steep switchbacks, easily navigable by car, unless really icy(again, not likely)

The route to Zion from las vegas is via I-15 to the Hurricane/State Street/SR 9 exit. You will follow SR9/state st through Hurricane to La Verkin, where you will make a well signed right turn on SR9 towards Springdale/Zion/Virgin/and Rockville. Any other deviation from this course will amount to a very long detour.

The hotels, shops, restaurants, outfitters, galleries are all located along Zion Park Blvd/SR 9 through Springdale. You will not have to go out of your way to see anything special. If you stay in the northern portion of town(roughly 0 to 900 block) then the heavier concentration of these tourist places will allow you to walk if the temperature permits. Most places close at 8pm, which allows you plenty of time to explore after the daylight ceases in the park.

For restaurants, Oscars is a must. You can also try Wildcat Willies, Flying Monkey, and even Pizza Noodle. I am not sure if the Spotted Dog or the Pioneer restaurant will be open at the time of your visit. There is also Casa Amigos and Bit and Spur.

With your limited time, a trip to the Grand canyon is really a separate trip, unless you add a couple of days. However I would like to note that visitors to Zion that have an extra day or two will also visit Bryce Canyon NP, which is just under two hours away from Springdale. If you are truly wanting to experience winter, than Bryce will be the place to do it, though there may not be too much snow on the ground by December.

Torrance, California
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10. Re: Trip from Vegas to Zion National park in Dec

Thanks Widmarsh for your valuable suggestions. I will definitely follow the route you have provided.....you know what....yesterday I have even booked 2 nights in Bumbleberry Inn as I was getting it in good rates . Got 2 nights(26thand 27th dec) for total of $130(tax included). Hope it shud be OK place to stay.

As you know I would be with my wife and 2 yr toddler...plz can you specify some specific places in the park in which we can go/trek with toddler and also enjoy the view and park?

Yess I was thinking of extending 2 days more and try to go to Bryce.....Howz Bryce National Park?....is it a manageable place for family with toddler

Also, please can you tell during that time is it advisable to rent 4WD SUV or a normal SUV would be ok or a normal sedan can also be ok.....should we carry chains too? is it mandatory?

Thanks.