We are headed to these parks in mid April and unsure of what clothing to pack. We will be prepared for cool weather but how cold? We are planning for layers--fleece vest, turtleneck, etc. but not packing heavy jackets. Northface rain jackets will be on the list. Thanks for any advice!
The altitude at Zion is around 3,000 ft, and Bryce is around 8,000 ft as I recall, so temperatures in the parks in mid-April can be quite cold indeed. Not so bad if you're out hiking on a sunny day but it gets cold in a hurry once the sun goes away. Layers are the way to go, along with warm gloves and a stocking cap. You'll probably be peeling off layers as the day progresses, then putting them back on later in the afternoon. Some the higher trails might still have snow or ice on them too.
Look on the US National Park Service (NPS) websites for each of these parks - they will have good seasonal weather info and it's very much dependent on which elevations (of each park) you will likely be at. In Yosemite, there is quite a range.
Hi, I was there a few years ago, exactly at that time (Zion and Bryce only) Mornings are cold and afternoons warm, especially Zion. So layers is what you need to do. We did not need an heavy jacket and were lucky to not need a rain jacket. Not sure how long you are going for, but if you have time add antelope canyon, it is really magical.
I do not know what route you are planning to use. Be aware that in April the east entrance to Yosemite NP through Tioga Pass may not be open yet (still covered in snow). It varies from year to year. See the Yosemite NP web site for status.
Tioga Pass will not be open in April this year. The Sierra have been getting lots of snow the past few weeks.
As others have said, these parks are at different elevations and you will have a range of temperatures. I have hiked in 70 degree sunshine in Yosemite in early April, but it can be cooler and will definitely be cool at night.
On our April trip to the Utah parks two years ago we had warm sunny days at Zion and a blizzard at Bryce.
They are all beautiful parks whatever the weather. Enjoy!
The coldest you will be is before dawn - and for some of the best views, especially Bryce, you'll want to be out for sunrise - then back to your room for a hot shower and breakfast :-)
Do you have places to stay? I used to like Ruby's just outside of Bryce. Yosemite is often booked up months in advance, but because people book so early, there are always last-minute cancellations. For Zion, staying at the Lodge in the park is great, but there are plenty of places in Springdale that are nearly as good and a lot cheaper.
Are you planning a stop between Zion and Yosemite? Going through Death Valley doesn't add much driving time and would be great for a night or two.
Another thought: if you've not been to Zion or Bryce before you should be aware that both parks operate a free shuttle to reduce vehicular traffic and get visitors around. In Bryce it's voluntary ... ie you can still drive your car to the various viewpoints inside the park. In Zion it's mandatory after about the middle of March - you can't proceed any further than the Visitor Center unless you're booked into the Zion Lodge.
The shuttles are efficient and convenient, and there a several pickup points in the little town of Springdale where you'll find much nicer accommodations at cheaper prices than the Lodge. Even in mid-April it's best to get an early start - at any of the NP's - to get the jump on the worst of the midday crowds.
Time and interest permitting, consider a scenic drive along Utah Rte 12 just east of Bryce - it really is terrific. Kodachrome Basin State Park along the route is an unappreciated little gem of a place.
Thanks for the helpful responses. We are staying in hotels and lodges. Zion will be one of them and we know about the shuttles. We will have a short stay in Death Valley--just one night.
There run shuttles in Yosemite Valley. That is really the best way to get around there.
Layers, like others have said. A wool watchcap will keep 25% of your body heat from exiting your head, and it's easy to stuff in a pocket if you get too warm. We've been in the Utah parks several times in April and you should be fine. Can't say about Yosemite. Zion Lodge and Ruby's are great choices.