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Must visit national parks and awe-inspiring places in Arizona and Utah you can reach easily within 1 -  3 hours (max) from Antelope Canyon by car! Those are Monument Valley, The Wave, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park. Except for Monument Valley, all destinations can be easily reached from Las Vegas and Valley of Fire State Park as well.

 
4.75


‘Breathtaking! And when you see it in life it’s just epic in its proportions!’

Monument Valley is not a National Park. It’s a Navajo Tribal Park with a stunning desert like landscape in Arizona and an excellent year-round destination. Seasons with pleasant weather and without a lot of traffic on the scenic drive are early spring (late March/April) and late autumn (October). Cooler but very quiet months are the winter months from November until March. Read on for more season details (spring -summer - fall - winter), the best ‘WHEN TO GO’ tips and our detailed hotel and camping guide.

Weather and Visitation

Despite the possibility for extreme weather conditions with some very hot days in the summer and a few colder times in the winter, most days of the year are quite suitable for an enjoyable visit. Due to the higher elevation of 5200 feet it’s a little cooler in general. The Wind is a major force in the valley. Even in the warmer months of spring and fall, bring an extra layer of cloth as it can get chilly in the mornings or late evenings. Light rain gear is also a good idea.


 

April - May (Spring)

The average maximum daytime temperature in April is a pleasant 19°C (66°F). In May it gets warmer with an average maximum of 25°C (77°F). That means both months are perfect for a visit. Most April visitors report, that it’s still quiet most of the time. In May it gets busier but still not heavily crowded. Keep in mind that particularly from April into June it’s often more windy than usual and it can become horrible dusty due to heavy winds.

June - July - August (Summer)

Clear, warm, sunny days and cool nights make this a delightful season to visit. July and August bring the warmest conditions, with temperatures in the 90s (over 33 °C) but rarely exceed 100 °F. The Visitor Center, as well as the scenic drive, become very busy during these summer months. Always check the weather forecast for occasional summer thunderstorms, especially from July to mid-September.

September - October (Autumn)

Still warm in September and pleasant temperatures in October. Autumn provides some of the most stable weather of the year. Keep in mind that in September even after labor day the scenic drive and the Visitor Center are often still busy. In October the crowds get smaller and there is less traffic on the road.

November -  March (Winter / Early Spring)

Mild cold weather conditions start around mid-November. Snow conditions start later around mid-December and can last until February/early-March. Even in the winter, temperatures below 0 °F (−18 °C) are rare. But still, a warm coat is highly recommended. The valley only receives an occasional light snowfall and sometimes snowstorms in the winter. However, the snow melts usually within a day or two. Most visitors report that it's no problem to drive with almost any kind of car in the colder months. Winter is the perfect time for solitude without the crowds and low prices. Lucky visitors can see the valley and rock formations dusted in snow. Later in early spring, March is a great month without the holiday crowds and temperatures get more pleasant as they can rise up to 60°F (15°C), nights and mornings are still cool and chilly though.

 

Avoiding Tourist Crowds (Visitor Center / View Hotel / Scenic Drive)

Crowds in Monument Valley means a busy road while driving the scenic loop, many tourists at the Visitor Center and a fully booked View Hotel. The busiest months are from May to September with a peak in the summer months: late June, July and August. (The ‘official peak-season’ with different opening times is from April through September) If you plan to stay at ‘The View Hotel’ in high season, book well in advance. Also, keep in mind that the hotel rates are at their highest. Sometimes there are even busy days / weekends on the road in April or October. However, most visitors experience a rather quiet drive in early spring or late autumn and real solitude in the winter. During busier months the traffic starts to pick up around 10 AM. That means you can’t just pull over and take pictures at will because of the traffic and dust. In peak season the major viewpoints are crowded resulting in big traffic jams. Avoid those busy times by starting early in the morning with less traffic and less dust. Even in early spring and late fall, you’ll benefit by heading out at breakfast time. Avoid weekends and try to go on a weekday. Another option is to visit in the cooler months or even in the winter: It’s colder, but especially in December, January and February you’ll experience peace and solace. November (up to 12°C / 54°F) as well as March (up to 14°C / 57°F) bring more pleasant temperatures but it’s still much quieter than during busier months.

Another possible alternative to get away from the crowds during high season: Either take the self-guided hike on the Wildcat-Trail (see below) in the morning or purchase one of the Navajo tours for smaller groups. Some visitors book a tour for their family group only. Further reading on seasons and crowds: Some interesting and useful ‘when to go’ statements on TripAdvisor Peak vs Off-Season

 

Time of Day (Sunrise/Sunset)

Sunrise is not only the best time to dodge the crowds and avoid a busy road, it’s also a magical moment. To experience a stunning sunrise in the winter or late fall, stay at The View Hotel as you can't get into the park before 8 AM in off-season from the outside. In peak season they open at 6 AM. However, most visitors say, that watching the sunrise from the View Hotel is priceless regardless of the season. If you can, stay until sunset as well. It’s spectacular and unforgettable! Quote from our user Ray Downs: “Sunrise is great everywhere and sunset is best from the parking lot of the view hotel parking lot...that is where the banner photo was taken.” Check sunrise and sunset in advance here: Sunrise - Sunset Times Monument Valley

 

A Great Place
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4.5

Bryce Canyon National Park boasts the most beautiful sandstone scenery in the American West.

Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. However, there are a lot of things to consider if you’d like to make this a visit you’ll remember forever. We wrote this guide to give you the best tips for Bryce Canyon in terms of the best time (months), weather, busy times, best hikes, personal hotel tips, and more. You shouldn’t miss our complete season guide and tips for the 5 Amazing Must-Know Walks and Hikes at the end of this article!

The best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park in terms of weather is from May until September. The temperatures are usually mild between 63°F and 80°F (17°C – 27°C). However, it’s peak season. If you want to avoid busy times and still experience mostly pleasant weather, go in April or October.

Guide-Book Tip: Check out the best and latest (2019 edition) guidebook for Bryce and Zion which is available. This is a must-read before you go: Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks. 

Tour Tip: This one is unforgettable: You spend three days with the best tour guides you can imagine and explore stunning Zion and Bryce National Parks, Monument Valley, as well as Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon. You ride with a 4x4 jeep through Monument Valley and get world class photo opportunities on this once in a lifetime tour. Hassle-free with with everything taken care of! Read the reviews: Bryce, Antelope, Grand Canyons, Zion & Monument Valley - Exclusive Tour


Monthly Weather and Busy Times

Sitting at a relatively high elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet, Bryce Canyon National Park is colder than any national park in Utah including Zion, Canyonlands and Arches. Summer temperature is pleasant and mild with little fluctuations. Night time in spring and fall are chilly but winter is the coldest with plenty of snowfall. Remember to pack your warm clothes when planning your trip to Bryce Canyon National Park anytime of the year. Monthly average maximum temperatures:

More details: Bryce Canyon Climate

Spring (March – May): Weather during spring transition from cold to mildly warm. Nonetheless, visitors still need a jacket particularly in March and April. This is the time to see snow melt from the higher elevation mountains surrounding this spectacular park. However, especially March is still considered a 'winter month' with snow and often unpleasent temps. April is the time when most Bryce experts consider going: The snow is melting and it's the first 'warmer' month as temperatures are getting more pleasant in April.  It doesn't matter that the trails are still muddy and that’s it's unlikely to see flowers. Also, keep in mind that nights in April and May are chilly. 

Summer (June – August): Experience pleasant days and cool nights during summer. The best weather is in July, the warmest month. Rainfall during mid to late summer comes as afternoon thundershowers. These are also the peak tourist months with heavy crowds.

Fall (September – October): Especially September is a great month with pleasant temperatures, blue sky, clear and crisp air. However, weather can be unpredictable and fall nights can be relatively chilly. It is possible to experience some snowfall in October.

Winter (November – February): Winter is the coldest time to visit Bryce Canyon. One will experience lots of snow between January and February, making it ideal time to enjoy snow activities such as skiing and sledging. Much of the area experience the occasional snowstorm from October through April. The coldest month is December. Few facilities and amenities will either remain closed or reduce their operating hours. The shuttle won't operate in winter. However, it's still worth visiting in the colder months! Why? 1) No crowds, you have the park almost to yourself. 2) It's cold but definitely not freezing cold during the day. 3) Accommodation prices are at their lowest with great discounts (check our hotel tips below). There are also a lot of amazing things to do in the winter. We loved the 'Ranger Guided Snowshoe Hike'. Check the official park website for more information: NPS - Bryce Canyon Winter Visit


Avoiding Tourist Crowds

The park is attracting over 2.6 million people annually now (2018). Summertime is the peak tourist season and very busy. Quieter times are winter, early spring and late fall. In September, the crowds start to thin out slightly after Labor Day (first Monday in September). However, not on weekends, as they are still packed in September.  June, July and August bring the heaviest crowds. In May it already starts to get busy, especially on weekends.

To avoid the crowds, start your day’s exploration early and go mid-week if possible. Finding the perfect parking space can sometimes be challenging especially at the view points along the scenic drive. However, you can find a nice parking spot just few kilometers away from the more packed ones. Special Tip: If you want to park your car at Sunset Point (limited parking only), arrive there around 7 a.m. A park ranger even suggested 6 a.m.! Otherwise it's better to use the shuttle (see below). Hiking enthusiasts should also start very early as most hiking trails will be packed later. The family friendly and moderate trails are packed in high season: Rim Trail, Queens Garden Loop, Navajo Loop, … You can find solitude, even in peak season, on the more strenuous day hikes like Fairyland Loop and Peekaboo Loop. Especially if you start early. Looking for very easy, short hikes or walks? Read our guide with the 5 best hikes and walks at the end of this article.  

Opening Hours and Shuttles

The park is open 24 hours throughout the year. The Visitor center is modern, with everything you need. No restaurant though. Visitor Center Operating Hours . Shuttle service for the Bryce Canyon stops in late October and resumes with the start of spring in mid-April. Detailed schedule: Bryce Canyon Park Shuttle Is is it free? Yes, there is no additional fee. You can use the shuttle as often as you like. It's all included in the $35 entrance fee to Bryce Canyon.

Hiking
US United States
5
 

Our unique Ultimate Guide to 'The Wave'. Covering everything from winning the lottery, weather to insider tips:

Otherworldly! The Wave - Coyote Buttes North. One of the most fascinating hikes on our planet! However, there is one catch: You have to win a permit! How to increase your chances and answers to every other possible questions you might have are covered here. You'll learn things no one else tells you about 'The Wave'! Read our powerful planning guide below (check our huge infographic!). This guide was updated 2019.

5 Proven Quick-Tips | Winning a Permit

Our famous 5 proven must-know tips for the lottery (how to win a permit) at a glance:

  1. Months: Highest chance for a permit in January / early February
  2. Walk-In Lottery: Enter the lottery for at least 2 consecutive days
  3. Walk-In Lottery: Between November and March. Plus: Enter on a Friday as well
  4. Online-Lottery: Wait until the end of the month before entering the lottery (it's NOT first-come, first-served!)
  5. Online-Lottery: Select 3 dates with the fewest applicants

Read on for more detailed tips and everything you should know before you go.

Permits

There is no more real off-season in terms of lottery applicants. Don't trust older reviews and articles. Winning becomes less likely every year. However, the chances to win a permit are still a little better in the winter months. Especially in January and early February. Find more insider tips on how to win a permit in the text and big infographic further below.

Crowds and Weather

Since only 20 persons per day are allowed, crowds are not an issue. However, Kanab (Visitor Center) and Page are less crowded if you avoid peak tourist months (late June, July, August). In terms of weather, we recommend spring (March, April, May) or fall (September, October, November): The temperatures are moderate and the cloud cover is reasonable, particularly in April/May. In summer (June/July/August) it gets very hot (100°F, 40°C). You should start very early to beat the heat. In the winter the ground might be snow covered and muddy. This may result in an impassable road sometimes. The cloud cover is higher in winter as well. However, you should keep in mind that the weather doesn't matter that much: Try to win a permit for this unique hike, regardless of the weather.

Photography (Time of Day)

A sixty foot buttes causes massive shadows and the best time to take photos there is often not sunrise/sunset. However, almost any time for a photo is great when you're at this otherworldly place. Extra tip: Look for puddles to capture great reflections.

Hiking
US United States