Bryce Canyon, a photographer’s dream destination and a hiker’s paradise, is one of the most unique national parks in the United States. With distinct red rock pillar formations, called hoodoos, found in high concentration across the park; this truly makes it a magical site to behold.
Although not as expansive as the Grand Canyon and can easily be covered in just one day, it does not fall short at all when it comes to providing magnificent views at every other point.
With so much to do in the park, we know how important it is to have the perfect plan! But worry not, we’ve got you covered. Follow this guide to the tee to get the most out of your trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, and leave all your worries behind.
How to Get to the Park
Since Bryce Canyon is only a 2.5 hour drive away from Zion National Park, we suggest combining the two together in one trip. Read all about the amazing things to do at Zion National Park from our guide below:
The cheapest and the closest airport to the park is the Las Vegas McCarran Airport. It’s only a 3 hour drive away from the park, thus making it an optimal choice.
Best Time to Visit
We went to the park around the Memorial Day weekend and I can say that the weather was pretty good except for a major snow storm that hit one day. But hey, the views after a snow storm have their own charm, don’t they?
However, if you’re someone who’d rather be hiking in warmer weather then I’d suggest July – September is the best time to visit. The views will be just as great, only without the snow.
How Many Days Needed at the Park
We do agree that you could see the entire park in just one day, but we wouldn’t recommend you do that. Because you won’t be able to enjoy the park’s beauty to the fullest neither would you be able to do some of the most stunning hikes. Unless you’re in a real time crunch and still want to see this beautiful park, we do not recommend covering it all in a single day.
The ideal number of days needed to fully explore this park is 2-3 days.
How to Travel Inside the Park
Similar to all other National Parks, parking can be a real problem with only limited spots available inside. It’s usually recommended to use the park shuttle, which takes you to every single major attraction in the park. And it’s a convenient way to travel too, as you can enjoy all the views!
Park your car at the Shuttle Station, the shuttle stop located outside the park. And hop on to the bus which will take you inside the park. The shuttles run between 8 am to 7:30 pm.
What to Do in the park
There are just so many things to do in the park and we understand that it can get quite overwhelming when you begin planning because who doesn’t want a perfectly planned trip. Hence, we are giving you a day-by-day guide for Bryce Canyon National Park, so throw all your stress away.
Start at Bryce Point
The highest point in the park, with an elevation of 8300 ft, Bryce Point surely provides some amazing views of the canyon covered in hoodoos. Starting your exploration from Bryce Point is the perfect thing to do since most of the hikes start here and you’ll want to tackle them earlier in the day itself.
Do the Bryce Amphitheater Hike
This is a 5.5 mile one-way trail that can be started either from Bryce Point, which then ends at Sunrise Point, or you can do it in the opposite direction. However, we recommend starting it from Bryce Point because this way a major part of the trail will be downhill, thus making it a moderately easy hike. But, if you’re someone who enjoys their things hard-earned, then go ahead with the strenuous climb and start it from the Sunrise Point!
Throughout the trail you’ll find some of the most awe-inspiring views of the hoodoos. The hike goes across parts of the canyon that has the highest concentration of hoodoos. The view is simply breathtaking!
Do the Navajo Trail
Towards the end of the Bryce Ampitheater trail (that is, if you started this hike from Bryce Point), you will come across an intersection; following one would take you to the Queen Garden trail and subsequently the Sunrise Point, and if you go in the other direction, it will lead you to the Sunset point through the Navajo trail.
Navajo trail is a 1.4 mile loop trail that takes you to the bottom of the canyon. During the trail, you will pass through the famous “Wall Street” and thereby come across a narrow section of switchbacks between cliffs, which makes it quite a difficult climb.
You will also see some amazing hoodoo formations on your way like the famous Thor’s Hammer and the Silent City. Or broaden your imagination and spot one of your own! Don’t forget to share with us what you found!
Enjoy the Views at Sunrise Point
The Navajo Loop trail can also be extended another mile onto the Queen’s Garden trail, which consequently leads to the Sunrise point, but honestly the Queen’s Garden trail just isn’t worth it. By now, you would have seen far more amazing hoodoo formations around than you would see on that trail. So we’d suggest you rest a little after the tiring Navajo loop trail and take the shuttle to the Sunrise point to enjoy some amazing sunset (yes, you read it right, sunset!) views there.
We decided to skip the park shuttle on this day and took our car instead since we wanted to see the Natural Bridge and the shuttle doesn’t go there.
Praise the Sunset Point Early in the Morning
Honestly, we loved the views from the Sunset Point more than those from the Sunrise Point.
Even though some might say the views from either points are pretty much the same – hoodoos, but there’s something about the symmetry among the hoodoo formations at the Sunset Point that we absolutely loved; it gave us a sense of satisfaction! Hence, we decided to visit the Sunset Point again on day 2 first thing in the morning to avoid the crowd. (We did go there on the first day as well after the Navajo trail, remember?)
We absolutely enjoyed the views in the morning when the area was not brimming with tourists and it seemed like we had the whole canyon to ourselves.
Absorb the Views at Inspiration Point
Inspiration Point is another jaw-dropper that is best seen in the morning when it is free from the crowds. Reach there early and gaze in awe at the beautiful red and white landscape laid out in front of you!
Now, this area actually consists of three viewpoints – a Lower, Middle and Upper Inspiration Point, you can say. We feel that the best of the three was the Lower Inspiration Point since there was no barricade and you could get beautiful pictures without any obstruction there. But, feel free to hike all the way to the top, because why not!
Drive to the Natural Bridge
We had heard so much about this natural rock formation creating an arch and we definitely wanted to see it.
It is a 15-minute drive from Inspiration Point and is located along the road that travels to the far south end of the park towards the Rainbow Point.
Be sure to stop here as the view will not disappoint at all. The Natural Bridge is sculpted from one of the reddest rocks that creates a magnificent contrast against the dark green Ponderosa forest below! And we loved it even more covered in snow!
We also drove all the way south till the Rainbow Point, but honestly the views there are nothing compared to Inspiration Point and it can be skipped if you’re in a time crunch.
Gawk at the Beautiful Night Sky
Bryce Canyon is known for its beautiful dark and clear skies, so watching this spectacular sky late at night should definitely be on your list.
The best locations to view the night sky are the Paria Point and Bryce Point. And the best time to get these magical views are around 11 pm to midnight.
The park also offers a Night Sky Program every Saturday and Tuesday where a ranger takes you to the best viewing location for that night. But you will have to go to the Visitor Center to sign up for it in person.
Hike the Fairyland Loop Trail
Located in the northern end of the park much before the park entrance, this 7.4 mile loop trail that is rated as difficult is the only trail in the park that offers a chance to see wildlife.
Start the trail early since the Fairyland Point, the place where the trailhead is located, has very limited parking spots. This trail will take you through some stunning scenery and then into the canyon. You will also come across a beautiful rock formation resembling the Tower Bridge. So don’t forget to spot it!
This trail is considered difficult because of its length and the elevation changes you’ll be going through. Be sure to carry plenty of water, snacks and a light jacket along with you!
Where to Stay?
The best place to stay would be the Ruby’s Inn because it’s the closest lodging option to the park entrance. It also offers a lot of fun activities such as Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking etc. But because of its popularity it gets sold out in the blink of an eye! So we actually ended up staying at Americas Best Value Inn & Suites in Tropic, UT.
The lodge itself is pretty dated and needs updation but turned out fine for us since we only really needed a lodge to sleep at night and were out and about for most part of the day. But what we really loved was its location. It is only a 15-minute drive from the park’s North Entrance and is only a 10 minute drive from Shuttle Station.
We also specifically liked this area since it was at a lower elevation and as we mentioned earlier, the park was hit by a heavy snow storm when we were there, but this area had no sign of snow. It was such a relief!
- Remember to carry plenty of water to stay hydrated and some snacks to re-energize as you’ll be going into the canyon and doing long hikes.
- Bryce Canyon is one of the parks where most of the attractions are accessible by shuttle or car, so you’ll often find huge crowds there. Remember to start early in the day to beat the rush!
- It is always a good idea to carry a light jacket because it is usually cooler inside the canyon.
- Be sure to check the weather in advance for your trip. We had scorching hot sun one day and a heavy snow storm the very next day.
- Check for trail closures daily before beginning your day because rock fall occurs quite often leading to many trails being closed. Navajo Loop Trail was affected by heavy rockfall this year (2019) as well.
Now, it’s time for you to pack your bags and have a superb hoodoo-filled experience!
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