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What is the Difference between Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Zion?

For those that have not yet explored much of the Southwest United States, it may sometimes be hard to understand the differences between the different canyons and other areas.  

Here are some simple descriptions to help define some of the main destinations and help you plan your visits. 

Antelope Canyon

Near Page, Arizona, about a 4 ½ hour drive from Las Vegas, you will find Antelope Canyon.  This is a natural slot canyon, about 17 miles in length.  The canyon was created by flash flooding.  Local rains, and even distant rains that flow into the area, work to create this incredible canyon full of shapes, colors, shadows, and amazing rock formations.  While there are other desert slot canyons, no other location offers the level of beauty and form that Antelope Canyon does.  This is an almost unbelievable destination with so much beauty and natural art concentrated in one place.    

The entire region of Antelope Canyon lies on the Navajo Reservation.  The companies that operate the tours must be Navajo owned.  The guides that escort visitors through the slot canyon also must be Navajo.  There are different sections of the canyon and different companies that operate tours to the different sections.  Visitors are only allowed to visit as part of an organized tour.  The tours must be booked for a certain date and time.  These are regulated by the Navajo Parks and Recreation.  A great way to visit Antelope Canyon is to book a Day Tour from Las Vegas.  

Antelope Canyon is not part of the state parks or national parks system.  Often, visitors approach the area, wondering if they are in the right place, as the surroundings are fairly typical of the desert region.  Travelers can be very close to Antelope Canyon and start to question where are the amazing rock formations.  From above, the desert landscapes do not seem so dramatic.  But upon entering the slot canyon, the visitors are immersed in the color, shapes, and light that they have sought after.  The beauty and wonderful surroundings will be sure to amaze the visitors.  There is so much to see, so many angles, and so many formations to take in!  Other parks like Zion National Park or Grand Canyon National Park offer wide and seemingly endless views.  Antelope Canyon is so different and offers a compact, intense collection of beauty, tightly packed together into a narrow and twisting canyon.  

Antelope Canyon is not part of the Grand Canyon, either in geography or aesthetics.  It is unique.  It is a place of its own.  This incredible location begs visitors to take many photos as if it were posing and waiting for its launch into fame.  Even the most novice photographer is sure to capture some incredible shots.    

Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon is so large and “grand” that it tends to overwhelm visitors.  It is beautiful and vast.  It is one of the Natural Wonders of the World, and rightly so.  Its views are memorable.  All travelers should visit to see it at least once.  Nothing compares to its size and beauty.  

To gaze out and across the Grand Canyon, it is hard to imagine just how large it truly is.  Surely no one has seen all of it.  Furthermore, it is always changing.  The weather, clouds, sun, shadows, and rain, show all work constantly to create a new view.  It will look different in the morning than in the evening.  It may change dramatically within an hour, due to wind and weather.  The canyon’s Spring and Fall are very different, just as Summer and Winter can make it seem like a different place altogether.  Millions of years of water and wind erosion have shaped the canyon.  The Grand Canyon is never exactly the same.  It does not disappoint the lucky travelers who make time to see this incredible destination.  

There are several main sections of the Grand Canyon.  They can be hours apart.  Most travelers will visit just one of the sections.

Within the National Park, there are two main sections of the Grand Canyon: South Rim and North Rim.  About 90% of the park’s visitors will go to the South Rim.  This area has the most park services, tours, lodging, tours, and other park amenities.  Only about 10 % of park visitors see the North Rim.  The North Rim is only open to visitors during the summer months.  This is because of the higher elevation, and access road during winter months.  It also has very limited lodging options, which can only welcome so many overnight guests.  

Day trips from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim are an efficient and easy way to see the Grand Canyon, and not have to drive to get there.  There are also private tours to Grand Canyon North Rim available for small groups from May to October.  

The Grand Canyon is in Northern Arizona, on the Colorado Plateau. The North Rim and the South Rim are each about a 5-hour drive from Las Vegas, although the direction of travel starts in an opposite direction.  

A third section of the Grand Canyon is located outside of the national park, part of the Hualapai Reservation.  This section is called Grand Canyon West.  This area is about a 2 ½ hour drive from Las Vegas.  There are also Day Tours to Grand Canyon West.  This is the section of the Grand Canyon with the famous Skywalk, a glass bridge that hangs out over the edge of the canyon wall.  Some guests choose this area to visit because it includes a window into the Native American culture, with exhibits and displays, and some of the jewelry and art for sale.  Grand Canyon West is the closest section to visit when driving from Las Vegas.  It also offers the option to take a helicopter to the bottom of the canyon.    

Zion National Park

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Incredible Zion National Park includes high canyon walls, with vibrant colors of red, orange, brown, and green.  Zion is tall, wide, and magnificent.  Zion Valley is peaceful and inviting.  Zion’s sheer rock walls seem impenetrable, but actually offer a variety of hiking options, from easy to very adventurous.  The park offers trails and winding paths. The park’s views are unique and unparalleled.  

Zion is located in Southern Utah.  It is about a 3-hour drive from Las Vegas.  Zion can be included in a Day Tour of Bryce and Zion

Zion National Park has become one of the most visited national parks.  It is one of the most popular parks in the United States.  It draws visitors from all states and countries. This beautiful park thrills nature enthusiasts of all types—from relaxed travelers to adventurous explorers. 

Bryce Canyon National Park

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Bryce Canyon is not a canyon.  That may sound strange.  It is a natural amphitheater.  Bryce offers an incredible array of unusual rock formations, hoodoos, spires, arches, and shapes.  It has a very unique personality.  The vibrant colors of red and orange mix with the blue sky and green trees to offer a natural scene that is visually stunning.  

Bryce is not as wide open as the Grand Canyon or Zion, but it is so detailed and intricate that it mesmerizes its visitors.  The beauty of its shapes, colors, and formations invites visitors to keep exploring and never feel like they have seen it all.  

Iron in the soil, along with other elements, causes the bright colors.  The high elevation and more remote setting keep the air clean, the views amazing, and the feeling of being far away from the rest of the world.   Visitors can walk along the rim and hike down trails and through the hoodoos and rock formations. It is beautiful from along the rim, or from down inside while wandering through the rocks and trees.  And in the winter months, the snow can add even more depth and dimension to its beautiful landscape.