After visiting Zion, Arches, and Canyonlands on previous long fall weekends, Bryce Canyon called to us as the next destination. I had fond memories of visiting Bryce as a child, and Kyle had never been. Despite both of us having colds, we enjoyed three days of hiking in Bryce and a stop at Cedar Breaks National Monument on the way back to the airport.
After the previous year’s enjoyable fall escape to Zion, we decided to escape the onset of Seattle’s rainy fall with a trip Moab, Utah. (We saved Bryce for a future visit.) Moab offered the chance to explore Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and could be reached by an easy, direct flight to Salt Lake City followed by a four hour drive.
Our visit included two days of hiking in Canyonlands — one in the Island in the Sky and one in the Needles District — and two days exploring Arches, including the Fiery Furnace, Devil’s Garden, Delicate Arch and Windows Arch. We also enjoyed three breathtaking sunrises at Mesa Arch, Delicate Arch, and the Windows.
Visiting in the fall meant that we got to see the most popular spots without the high-season crowds. We also got to do some hikes that the Park Service and others recommend against doing in the hot summer, including Druid Arch and Syncline Loop.
If you hike, fall is one of the best times to visit the southwest. Crowds have thinned, the days are cooler, and small spots of fall color can light up the canyons even more. Frequent summer thunderstorms can become less frequent. The days are shorter. You have to make good use of your limited daylight, but it makes it easier to catch sunrises and sunsets and to enjoy the stars.
To take advantage of this, we visited Zion National Park in November 2015, spending a day and a half in the Zion Canyon section, a day in Kolob Canyons, a day in the Subway, and a beautiful morning on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway.