Spend New Year's Eve in Zion National Park on This Epic 6-day Hiking Adventure
As the rise in slow travel has proven the value of pumping the breaks, one itinerary is also challenging the way we think about typical New Year's celebrations. In an antithesis to tradition, REI Co-op Adventures' Zion Winter Hiking Adventure wants to take visitors on a six-day trip through both Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks.
The trip, which is scheduled to take place from Dec. 29 to Jan. 3, will start and end in Las Vegas. Each day, the group will set out on spectacular hikes, ranging from two to eight miles, including trails to the Emerald Pools and Observation Point in Zion, along Peek-A-Boo Loop and Wall Street in Bryce Canyon, and at Pink Ledges and Birdseye in Red Canyon. The package also encompasses five nights of double-occupancy hotel accommodations, five breakfasts, six lunches, four dinners, and park entrance fees.
Other highlights include a New Year's Eve hike along Zion's West Rim Trail and going up 21 switchbacks of Walter's Wiggles to take in the view of Zion Canyon from Angels Landing. Equally spectacular is the New Year's Day agenda, which will see visitors snowshoeing on Bryce Canyon's Fairyland Loop Trail.
"By the time New Year's rolls around, tourist season has wrapped up, and Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks offer an amazing sense of peace and solitude," REI Co-op Adventures travel program manager Heather Gyselman tells Travel + Leisure. "Most visitors don't get to experience that at any other time of the year."
She adds that this time of year also "turns up the theatrics," often with snow bringing a "gorgeous contrast between vibrant red sandstone and a sparkling white blanket."
Of course, the countdown to 2022 won't go unnoticed, as it will be spent in the park's only hotel, Zion Lodge. "The setting is incredible and provides the backdrop for our New Year's celebration," Gyselman says. "After an amazing day on the trail, we enjoy a festive holiday dinner at the lodge before ringing in the new year with a glass of Champagne among a fantastic group of new friends."
Bookings for this year's departure start at $3,549 for REI members and $3,840 for non-members for the small group trip (four to 12 people). The itinerary is ranked as moderate, meaning participants should be able to hike or snowshoe up to eight miles a day, carrying a pack that weighs 10 to 15 pounds over elevation gains of up to 2,200 feet at an elevation of up to 9,000 feet, including some off-trail sections of inclined sandstone.
For those who are early planners, next year's trip from Dec. 29, 2022, to Jan. 3, 2023, is also open for bookings, starting at $3,649 for members and $3,940 for non-members.
"This takes all the pressure off planning your New Year's Eve; instead, you can focus on doing something wonderful for yourself and experience something really fun, perfectly curated, and worry-free that's good for you and in a place that's unforgettable," REI Co-op Adventures guide Ashley Elledge tells T+L. "I always tell people the best thing about our New Year's trip is being able to ring in the new year in such a beautiful place... This is a beautiful and peaceful way to welcome a new year."