11 cool side trips between Zion & Bryce National Parks


by Matt, September 2021

Zion & Bryce National Parks have been linked together from the beginning. So many people visit both of these parks on their Utah Road Trip.

Here are some cool things you can do as you drive between the two parks!

Better to see them than read about them!

1. Moqui Cave

image of moqui cave
Moqui Cave Museum

Moqui Cave is a museum inside a cave. It costs money, and they provide a very brief interpretive tour of the cave.

The museum houses an eclectic collection of dinosaur tracks, gems, rocks, artwork, fossils, Native American artifacts, and a variety of other things.

The inside also has a drink bar where Hollywood actors used to hang out while shooting Western movies in nearby Kanab.

Outside is a dinosaur play area for the kids.

2. Moqui Caverns (also called Moqui Cave)

image of moqui caverns
Moqui Caverns, Moqui Cave, or Sand Caves

Within walking distance of Moqui Cave is a place called Moqui Caverns. This is often referred to as Moqui Cave as well. It’s a “natural” feature that is free.

By “natural,” I mean it’s not a museum. It’s red rock you can climb on and around. It wasn’t formed naturally, however.

My understanding is that it was a sand mine that was used for creating glass.

You can park on the highway and walk to the caverns. Just be aware that you need to climb up a red rock hillside. Red rock is often called “slickrock,” but it’s really not slick. Sometimes it can be a little sandy, so I would recommend tennis shoes for scrambling up the rock.

Once in the caverns, it is VERY sandy. Feel free to take off your socks and shoes and let the sand cool off your feet!

Just please DON’T carve into the walls.

map of locations
Things to do between Zion & Bryce (approximate locations)

3. The Belly of the Dragon

image of family in front of belly of the dragon
Belly of the Dragon

This is also a natural-unnatural roadside stop nearby. It is actually a tunnel underneath the main highway.

It was carved as a waterway. But today, we get to go walk through it and play around.

It literally only takes about 1 minute to walk through the tunnel!

4. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

image of sign "best friends animal sanctuary"

If you LOVE animals, this place is for you. They have a mission to have ZERO homeless pets.

Located just outside Kanab on a HUGE ranch, they rescue cats, dogs, horses, and many other kinds of animals.

There are two ways you can experience this sanctuary: 1) take a free tour, or 2) volunteer to help them! Check out their website for more information.

5. Little Hollywood Museum

image of little hollywood museum

Did you know Kanab, Utah used to be known as Little Hollywood? Why? Because there were over 100 western movies filmed here in the heyday of western movies.

This was practically a second home for some big-time Hollywood stars.

Most of these movie sets were torn down and destroyed, but luckily someone cared enough to try to salvage many of them, including major parts of the set for The Outlaw Josey Wales.

6. Cedar Breaks National Monument

image of cedar breaks national monument
Cedar Breaks is AMAZING!

Cedar Breaks is Bryce Canyon Junior.

It is located near Cedar City. Some people use Cedar City as a home base to visit Zion and Bryce.

If you do this, don’t forget about Cedar Breaks! In the old days, visitors got off the train in Cedar City, and tour buses took them on a Grand Tour of Cedar Breaks, Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.

Cedar Breaks even had a big lodge for tourists to stay on the trip. The lodge no longer exists, and many people forget about this little gem.

It is very similar to Bryce Canyon, with rock formations called hoodoos. It doesn’t have quite as many hoodoos, but they are redder than the formations in Bryce.

It’s at a very high elevation, and the drive to and from Cedar Breaks is really a gorgeous drive (not to mention the drive and scenic viewpoints IN the park).

7. Parowan City

The Old Rock Church in Parowan, Utah

Parowan is a gateway town to Cedar Breaks National Monument. It’s a very cute little town with a Visitor Center and a well-known church called The Old Rock Church.

This was built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the 1860s. It’s first meeting was held in 1870 and was attended by the famous prophet Brigham Young.

We happened to visit in October, which was an absolutely gorgeous time to visit. Plus, the entire town was decked out in Halloween decorations (see video for more).

8. Red Canyon

image of people walking in Red canyon

This is located very close to Bryce Canyon. Like Cedar Breaks, it doesn’t have as many formations clustered together as Bryce does, but the rocks are redder.

What’s great about this canyon is you can climb around and play on the rocks.

We rented eBikes from near Bryce Canyon and rode them through Red Canyon. It was awesome!

Once we arrived at Red Canyon, we stopped to climb around with our kids.

9. Mammoth Cave. 10. Duck Creek Ice Cave. 11. Bowers Caves

These three places are clustered together. They are a little farther off the beaten path, and I haven’t personally been here, although it’s on my bucket list.

You can find out more about Mammoth and Duck Creek at the Forest Service website. Bowers isn’t on the website for some reason, but it’s located close to Mammoth. I’ll add more information to this post after I visit these places.

For more information

These are just some of the places we include in our travel guides. We have travel guides for National Parks, such as Zion & Bryce, as well as things to do nearby. We give detailed instructions for how to get to these places, along with a good game plan for getting the most out of your vacation.

Check out our guides today!

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