Where to Stay
ZION NATIONAL PARK
There are a variety of nice hotels, and motels near Zion National Park, but if you're an outdoorsy person who will camp, or glamp, I highly recommend Wright Family Ranch. Reservations are inexpensive and can be made with ease using HipCamp.
The Wright Family Ranch is a family owned property run by Bill Wright, that sits ontop of a butte mesa just on the outskirts of Zion National Park, in fact you have to drive through the park's back country border to enter Bill's property. The huge open area is basically a ratcheted up version of dispersed camping. There is no water onsite, there are only porte-potties and cell service there is limited. However, the luxuries you trade in are worth it for the views, especially the night sky. I've done many mountain trips in my life but this is the best stargazing I've ever encountered. It's also heaven for anyone interested in astro-photography.
Pro-Tip: Pay the extra $100 and do the sunset horseback ride. It's worth every penny.
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
My favorite place to stay near Bryce Canyon is about 15 minutes outside of the park's border in Tropic, UT and it's a place called Bryce Pioneer Village.
This sweet little property has affordable motel rooms, western cabins, family suites and camping/RV facilities. On top of that there's a lovely restaurant on property and beautiful green lawns where you can sit and relax after a long day hiking and sightseeing.
GRAND STAIRCASE ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT
My absolute favorte place in Southern Utah without a doubt is the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. It's a protected land that in my humble opinon should be a national park. It is protected as a national monument however, so rest assured it's safe from drilling and development. Escalante, or "The Step" as it's often lovingly referred to has an ecclectic array of landscapes and terrains. There are slot canyons, fascinating and bizarre geological formations, epic waterfalls, lush creeks, and stunning petroglyphs. For me, the only place to stay in the area is Escalante Outfitters.
This darling property houses the cutest bunk cabins (summer camp vibes!) and camping/RV facilities. They aslo have hot showers, laundry facilities, a darling general store that has literally anything you might need and a fabulous cafe that makes some of the best pizza I've ever had, and y'all, I've been to Italy.
What to See
What to Pack
Southern Utah's temperatures can swing quite a bit during the year. The ideal time to visit is late spring to early summer, or early fall. You want to go when the temps are going to sit around the 70s/80s during the day but not cool down lower than about 50* at night.
Bring warm layers for nighttime, especially if you're camping, or staying in bunk cabins where you'll need to go outside to get to the restroom and shower facilities, but you'll also want to pack shorts, tees, bathing suits, hiking sandals (I'm partial to Chacos) and a good sun hat!
If you end up downloading my trip itinerary, it includes an perfect packing list.