Bryce Canyon National Park is one of Utah’s mighty 5 national parks. Some of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon include enjoying amazing overlooks, taking beautiful hikes and of course getting close to the park’s peculiar red rock hoodoos. Visiting Bryce Canyon and its hoodoo inhabitants is a truly unique adventure.
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Guide to visiting Bryce Canyon National Park
- What to expect
- Best things to do
- Hiking in Bryce
- Tips for visiting
- Best time to visit
- How to get around
- Where to stay
- More places to visit
What to expect when visiting Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park in Southern Utah is in particular known for the very distinctive rock hoodoos that you find throughout the park. But what are really the rock hoodoos that you see when visiting Bryce Canyon?
The hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park are rock pillars that stand out from the bottom of the terrain. The spire usually consists of more soft rock further down and higher density rock that is less easily eroded further up.
Bryce’s red rock hoodoos are found throughout the park in the diverse environment enriched with desert plants and animals. Bryce National Park is home to a great variety of animals including elks, deer, prairie dogs, rattlesnakes and lizards that enjoy the special place that Bryce is.
The conditions in Bryce Canyon have over millions of years carved out natural amphitheatres. Thanks to these natural amphitheatres you can rather easily reach the park’s breathtaking viewpoints from the main road that goes through Bryce.
Bryce Canyon National Park sits at an elevation of between 8,000 (2438 m) and more than 9,000 feet (2743 m). The high altitude makes the winters surprisingly cold, with snow to be expected in the area. But Bryce Canyon is packed with things to see and do and it’s a great place to visit every season of the year.
Best things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park
A visit to Bryce Canyon National Park is all about experiencing the magnificent nature in Southern Utah. The park is full of gems to include on the ultimate Bryce Canyon itinerary. Here all the best things to do when visiting Bryce Canyon are listed in order from north to south.
Tower Bridge – A unique Bryce Canyon rock formation
The rock formation Tower Bridge sits in a part of Bryce Canyon National Park with lighter crowds. To get to Tower Bridge you need to hike 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the trailhead north of Sunrise Point.
When you reach Tower Bridge you can’t climb all the way up to the unique rock formation. But the views from the below perspective are very rewarding and hiking to Tower Bridge is one of the best Bryce Canyon things to do.
Sunrise Point – Get a good taste of Bryce Canyon
Sunrise Point is accessible from the main road and gives great views over Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s a great first point of interest to include on any Bryce Canyon itinerary. And it’s also from Sunrise Point that you start the popular Queen’s Garden Trail hike.
Sunset Point – A spectacular Bryce Canyon viewpoint
Sunset Point is a beautiful viewpoint that is located near Sunrise Point. And you can easily walk between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point without leaving the rim. The trail directly between the two is paved, flat and each way is a humble 0.5-mile hike. Along the Rim Trail you find beautiful sights everywhere your eyes go.
Thor’s Hammer – The most famous Bryce Canyon hoodoo
Thor’s Hammer is one of the most iconic places to see when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park. From the trailhead at Sunset Point you just need to hike a short distance down on the Two Bridges Branch of the Navajo Loop Trail to get to the majestic Thor’s Hammer.
The famous hoodoo is one of the first things to include on the ultimate Bryce Canyon itinerary. After all, Bryce Canyon National Park is about hoodoos and Thor’s Hammer is the hoodoo.
Wall Street – A cool place on the Bryce Canyon itinerary
Wall Street in Bryce Canyon is not a hub for financial activity like the famous Wall Street in New York City. Far less money flow through here. But money isn’t everything and when it comes to beauty the Bryce Canyon Wall Street wins hands down.
Bryce Canyon’s Wall Street hike is part of the Navajo Loop Trail with its trailhead at Sunset Point. The narrow hike between the steep canyon walls is both fun and exciting. And the walls provide a very nice break in the shade if you visit a hot day of summer. Wall Street is in more than one way a cool place to include on a Bryce Canyon itinerary.
Seasonal closure: The Wall Street part of Navajo Loop Trail is closed during winter. So if you visit during the colder months of the year you have to save Wall Street for another time.
Inspiration Point – More great Bryce Canyon views
Inspiration Point sits further down the Bryce Canyon Rim. From here you have an amazing view out over the main amphitheater of Bryce Canyon. The intricacy of the hoodoos is almost certain to make you awe-inspired when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Point – See the sun rise in Bryce Canyon
Bryce Point offers one of the most scenic overlooks in the entire park. From the vista you can see many of Bryce’s typical hoodoos. The red hoodoos together with the green trees and blue sky form a stunning view.
This viewpoint is also very popular for sunrises. If you arrive at Bryce Point before the sun rises you will be able to see the tops of the hoodoos set alight when the first rays of the sun hits them. Almost like if they were set on fire. A sunrise at Bryce Point is one of the most memorable and best Bryce Canyon things to do.
Natural Bridge – A short but appreciated Bryce Canyon stop
Natural Bridge in Bryce Canyon National Park is a very scenic Bryce spot that is accessible from the main road through the park. The natural monument is a red-rock arch that is located about 12 miles (19 km) south of Bryce Canyon Visitor Center.
All you need to do to enjoy Natural Bridge when visiting Bryce Canyon is to jump out of your car and walk the short distance to the edge. There are no trails to reach Natural Bridge so it’s a quick, but still very appreciated stop to make when visiting Bryce Canyon. The red arch and the green forest contrast each other in a beautiful way and is a great Bryce Canyon stop to make.
Rainbow Point & Yovimpa Point – The best Bryce Canyon spots for long-range views
Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point sit on the southern end of Bryce Canyon National Park. Here you when visiting Bryce Canyon find some of the best views in the entire park. Rainbow Point is the highest point in Bryce Canyon National Park with its 9,120 feet (2,720 m) above the ocean.
Many visitors don’t go this far south but the incredible view makes it well worth the 17 mile (27 km) drive from Bryce Canyon Visitor Center. To go to the southern viewpoints is the best thing to do in Bryce Canyon if you want long-range views. On a clear day you can see more than 50 miles (80 km) from Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point. That means that you if you turn your head south even can see all the way to Arizona.
The best hikes in Bryce Canyon
There are hikes in Bryce Canyon for anyone. From short, paved and flat to longer Bryce hikes with more elevation change. Here you find some of the best hikes when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in order from shorter to longer.
Sunset to Sunrise
Sunset Point to Sunrise Point is the easiest and most accessible walk in the Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s the part of the Rim Trail that’s paved and flat.
- Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km)
- Elevation change: 34 feet (10 m)
The Bristlecone Loop is an easy Bryce hike in the southern part of the park. Hike from Rainbow Point or Yovimpa Point through the fir forests and bristlecone pines while you enjoy the beautiful view. The Bristlecone Loop is the best Bryce hike for seeing a lot of the southern part of the park in little time.
- Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km)
- Elevation change: 200 feet (61 m)
Navajo Loop Trail
Navajo Loop Trail is a trail that consists of the two branches Wall Street and Two Bridges. The Wall Street section of the loop is closed during winter, while Two Bridges is open year-round. It’s along the Two Bridges branch that you find the famous Thor’s Hammer hoodoo, which makes this a must hike for many Bryce visitors.
- Distance: 1.3 miles (2.2 km)
- Elevation change: 550 feet (168 m)
Queen’s Garden Trail
Queen’s Garden Trail is the least difficult trail that descends into the main Bryce amphitheater. It’s a down-and-back hike that goes from Sunrise Point to the Queen Victoria Hoodoo. This is the best Bryce hike if you’re looking for a relatively short and easy hike that still takes you near some of the iconic hoodoos.
- Distance: 1.8 miles (2.9 km)
- Elevation change: 357 feet (109 m)
Queen’s Garden Trail & Navajo Loop Trail combination
When you have reached the Queen Victoria Hoodoo of Queen’s Garden Trail you can continue to the Navajo Loop Trail to make it to Sunset Point instead of retracing back to Sunrise Point. The Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop combination hike is the most popular Bryce hike and most visitors choose to continue instead of retracing back.
When you reach Navajo Loop Trail from Queen’s Garden Trail there are two branches that lead to Sunset Point. The first branch is the Two Bridges branch, which is open year-round. Wall Street is the second and more popular branch, but it’s closed for visitors in winter.
- Distance: 2.9 miles (4.6 km)
- Elevation change: 600 feet (183 m)
Peekaboo Loop is a steep and more strenous hike when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park. It starts at Bryce Point and descends down into the valley and the beautiful hoodoos. The entire hike is spent below the rim of the canyon.
- Distance: 5.5 miles (8.8 km)
- Elevation change: 1571 feet (479 m)
Fairyland Loop is a longer Bryce Canyon hike at 8 miles (12.9 km) that starts at Fairyland Point or north of Sunrise Point. It’s a less crowded hike that shows you beautiful views of the Bryce Amphitheater. This Bryce hike is recommended if you look for a quiet hike in the sometimes busy Bryce Canyon. Highlights along the trail are Chinese Wall and Tower Bridge.
- Distance: 8 miles (12.9 km)
- Elevation change: 1716 feet (523 m)
Tips for visiting Bryce Canyon National Park
Visiting Bryce Canyon is always a big experience. But a few tips for visiting Bryce Canyon National Park can make the experience even more special.
- Go all the way south. Many visitors only go to the northern part of Bryce Canyon National Park. But the higher elevated southern part of the park is well-worth the drive when visiting Bryce Canyon. So a great tip for visiting Bryce Canyon National Park is to explore not only the northern part of the park.
- Bring stargazing equipment. Stargazing is popular in Bryce Canyon as the light pollution is so low here. If you go out after dark you can see thousands of stars on the night sky. Therefore another tip for visiting Bryce Canyon is to bring binoculars, star maps and a flashlight to make the most of the stargazing opportunity.
- Dress in layers. The weather conditions change frequently in Bryce Canyon. In summer days tend to get hot, while nights are chilly. So come prepared with more than one layer when you visit Bryce Canyon.
- Try to stay near the park. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular in Bryce Canyon National Park. Therefore try to stay at a hotel near Bryce when you visit to make sure that you can enjoy them effortlessly.
The best time for visiting Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park is open and it’s an amazing place to visit all year-round. But each season has its unique features in Bryce.
Visiting Bryce Canyon in winter (low season)
Low season in Bryce Canyon National Park means daytime temperatures close to freezing and night-time temperatures below freezing. This is the most peaceful time of the year to visit Bryce Canyon thanks to the lower amount of visitors. The snow on the red rock formations is much appreciated by winter visitors. Winter is the best time for visiting Bryce Canyon if you want to escape the crowds.
Visiting Bryce Canyon in spring or autumn (shoulder season)
Spring and autumn are great times of the year to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. If you visit in May or September you face significantly smaller crowds than in summer while the daytime temperatures still reach comfortable 64 to 70°F (18-21°C). Spring or Autumn are the best times to visit Bryce Canyon National Park if you’re after smaller crowds and neither hot or freezing temperatures.
Visiting Bryce Canyon in summer (peak season)
During summer you need to expect bigger crowds and warmer temperatues. However, thanks to the high elevation Bryce escapes the extremely hot temperatures that you see in some other parks. Still, if you visit during this time of the year it’s smart to do your hiking either early or late in the day to avoid the warmest temperatures and the strongest sun. Summer is the best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park if you don’t mind the crowds and enjoy the warmer temperatures.
How to get around in the park
An easy way to get around in the park is to use the Bryce Canyon shuttle system. The shuttle that runs during the most visited months of the year takes you from the town of Bryce or the Visitor Center to the most popular spots in the park. Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point all have stations for easy access when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park. However, the shuttle system focuses on the Bryce Amphitheatre area and doesn’t go to the more southern viewpoints.
Throughout the year you are also allowed to drive into Bryce National Park with your own car. But visitors are warned that traffic congestion and circling parking lots during peak season can take some of the Bryce magic away from your visit. So think twice before you decide if driving into Bryce Canyon or using the park shuttle is the best option for you.
Where to stay
The most popular options for where to stay when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park are to stay either in the park itself or in the town of Bryce that sits adjacent to the park. Then you effortlessly and in minutes can go from your hotel to the Bryce adventure.
Popular hotels just outside the park are:
- Best Western PLUS Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel
- Best Western PLUS Ruby’s Inn
Use the booking tool below to find the perfect lodging for your visit to Bryce Canyon National Park. Browse the map for options in various areas, or click on the search button to get all options listed.
Other places to visit near Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon is one of Utah’s mighty 5 national parks. The other parks in the state of Utah are Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Capitol Reef NP and Zion NP.
If you go just a little bit south, you can also easily include other USA gems. How about adding Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and the mighty Grand Canyon NP to your ultimate Southwest road trip?
Mighty 5 from Bryce Canyon
- Zion National Park: 72 miles (116 km)
- Capitol Reef National Park: 118 miles (190 km)
- Arches National Park: 244 miles (393 km)
- Canyonlands National Park: 256 miles (412 km)
Other destinations from Bryce Canyon
- Horseshoe Bend: 153 miles (246 km)
- Antelope Canyon: 157 miles (253 km)
- Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim): 158 miles (254 km)
- Monument Valley: 272 miles (438 km)
Visiting Bryce Canyon FAQ
Here you find the answers to some frequently asked questions about visiting Bryce Canyon.
As Bryce National Park is rather compact you can explore much of the park in just one day. If you have a full day to explore you have enough time to go to all the famous viewpoints throughout the park and time for some good hiking.
It’s definitely possible to get a taste of Bryce Canyon National Park even if you have less than a day available. In half a day you have time to stop by at the most popular viewpoints in the northern part of the park as well as doing some short hikes. But optimally you have at least a full day available for visiting Bryce Canyon National Park.
It takes about 4 hours to drive the 260 miles (418 km) from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon.
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