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Zion National Park - Zion Canyon Visitors Center
This center is the best place to start your visit. The center has exhibits, maps, a bookstore, and shuttle bus starting point where kids can pick up booklets to earn a Junior Ranger Badge. The Zion Canyon Shuttle Loop stops at eight locations in the park. You may get on and off as often as you like. The shuttle travels along Zion Canyon Road, a 6 mile road that follows the northern portion of the Virgin River, and stops at overlooks, the starting points of walking and hiking trails and the Zion Lodge. If you would rather walk than ride, the visitor center is the place to meet up with one of the park's rangers for a tour. During the summer months kids can go to the Zion Nature Center for fun activities and programs.
The Court of Patriarchs Viewpoint
A great stop to hop off the shuttle bus is at this viewpoint where you can see three of the huge sandstone mountains named The Patriarchs. Other mountains also in view at this spot are the 5,690 foot tall Mount Moroni and the 7,157 foot tall The Sentinel. A short hike takes you to the base of these three sandstone monoliths.
Weeping Rock Trail
This easy hike is a stop on the shuttle ride. This is one of the more popular trails in Zion Canyon. The hike is short and the scenery is spectacular, with views of the 6,744 foot Great White Throne, made of white Navajo sandstone, and parts of Zion Canyon. The trail leads you through beautiful flowers and water trickling down the cliffs. The water comes through the Navajo sandstone at places where it finds small openings. Hanging gardens of delicate plants cling to the cliff face. The end of the trail leads into an alcove, behind the curtain of water, where it is cool and moist.
Bryce Canyon National Park - Bryce Canyon Visitor Center
The Bryce Canyon Visitor Center should be one of your first stops when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park. Here you can obtain driving and hiking directions beyond those available on this website, weather forecasts, a current schedule of the Park Ranger guided programs and Junior Ranger booklets. While at the Visitor Center stop to watch the 20-minute award winning film Shadows of Time. The free Shuttle Boarding Area that makes stops at Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, Bryce Canyon Lodge and Sunrise Point is located just outside the Visitor Center.
This is a great place to see the hoodoos up close at eyelevel. Here the canyon rim is covered in Ponderosa Pine forest where deer, jays, turkey, chipmunks and squirrels make their homes. As you hike into the canyon below, walk through different habitats including areas of Douglas Fir forest and large groves of pine and juniper trees. Fairyland Canyon is the best place in the park to see cool creatures such as mountain lions, foxes, bobcats, and even Great Basin rattlesnakes. This canyon is also a great place to take in all the beautiful wildflowers in the park.
Sunset Point offers vistas of some of the most famous and breathtaking of Bryce Canyon's hoodoos. Directly below the point and to the south, the Silent City rises from the canyon floor, a maze of hoodoos and fins packed in tight formation. Just below the overlook on the northern edge, Thor's Hammer, a huge Hoodoo, stands alone and is one of the most famous Hoodoos in the park.
Check Out The Night Sky
Bryce Canyon is the best place to see the stars at night due to the park's high elevation and because the sky is so dark so far away from the bright lights of cities. There are few better places on planet Earth for astronomy! The night sky at Bryce is so dark you can see 7,500 stars on a moonless night! The astronomy rangers, also known as Bryce Canyon's "Dark Rangers" and volunteers are very talented and can help you with your stargazing. With big telescopes available, on a clear dark night, you can see 2.2 million light years or 527,000,000,000,000,000 miles to the Andromeda Galaxy. Don't forget to check out the fun and educational multimedia shows, Astronomy and Night Programs, Full Moon Hikes and Solar Viewings through the Park Rangers.