A short comparison of the Utah National Parks

I visited Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef National Parks in Utah. These are outstanding and astounding parks, similar but different.

I did not visit Lake Mead, Red Canyon, Canyon Lands or Arches on this visit to Utah. I have previously visited Arches and parts of Canyon Lands. Perhaps another day. There are may similarities to the red parks and one can be overexposed to red rock!

There are many foreign tourists on this circuit, and many of them are in rental RVs. Someone is doing a good job advertising in Germany and Europe on behalf of Utah, especially RV rentals. Most are very polite and friendly, except for one that insisted on driving his large rented class C moho into a viewpoint parking lot clearly marked “no RVs” and then proceeded to park parallel, blocking all handicapped spaces, a pet peeve of mine. So I was compelled to advise him of his compounded mistakes. And would do so again.

But back to the comparison. All have red rock, but of a different character. All have nice and reasonably priced dry no-hookup camp grounds, and are supported by nearby commercial campgrounds that have full hookups for RV.

I think the largest difference is the availability of commercial tourist amenities nearby, or otherwise stated, restaurants, shopping and non-RV lodging nearby. Since I am a Rver I see mostly the RV point of view.

If a family visits these parks, looking for upscale and trendy food, lodging, entrainment and shopping then the following comments are somewhat a guide. But make no mistake about it: All three offer outstanding views of geological features!


Town just outside entrance

Free shuttle through park

Free shuttle in town



Lodging (non-RV)



Ruby’s just outside entrance (a single all-service entity)

Free shuttle between park and Ruby’s

Free shuttle through a portion of the park

For-fee shuttle through remainder of park

Lodging (non-RV) only at Ruby’s

Shopping only at Ruby’s

No discernible entertainment

Capitol Reef

Very small town of Torrey 15 miles distant

No public transportation

Lodging (non-RV) very limited (motel at Torrey)

Shopping only at small gift shops in park, quick-markets in Torrey

No discernible entertainment (except for Park Ranger sponsored programs

Arches (from memory three years past)

Full service town nearby

No public park transportation



Lodging (non-RV)


Tags: Bryce Canyon NP, Capitol Reef NP, Utah, Zion NP

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