Places not to miss in Utah

15. Best things to do in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon is one of the most spectacular national parks in Utah renowned for its amazing bright-orange hoodoos. 

Although this national park is just 55 square miles in size, there are many amazing things to do in Bryce Canyon. And since the park is very compact, you can visit its main spots in just one day, but if you are serious about exploring Bryce, you should stay longer.

My guide will help you navigate Bryce Canyon and help you make the most out of your visit to this jewel of south central Utah.

Why you should visit Bryce Canyon

I recommend exploring at least one or two trails, even if you are not an avid hiker. 

When you go on a hike, bring plenty of water and snacks. And if you are hiking in summer, make sure to put on enough sunscreen, comfortable shoes and a hat. 

PRO TIP: If you want to take cool photos, arrive before sunrise. The light is incredibly soft during the early morning hours which makes for beautiful landscape shots.

Amazing things to do at Bryce Canyon

What is a hoodoo?

Bryce Canyon is famous for its bright orange stone pillars called hoodoos. You will see this word in many articles, pamphlets and brochures. 

So what is a hoodoo? 

Hoodoos are the spire-like red formations populating Bryce Amphitheater, a depression right below the Rim Trail hiking path, as well as other parts of the park.

Hoodoos are found only in several parts of the world including Cappadocia, Turkey and Drumheller, Canada, but the highest concentration of hoodoos is in Bryce Canyon National Park

How to get to Bryce Canyon?

Located in south-central Utah, this national park can be accessed via several routes. 

It takes about four hours to get to Bryce Canyon from Las Vegas and four hours from Salt Lake City. In addition, it can be accessed via a drive from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. 

Many visitors combine a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park with its neighbor Zion National Park. It takes about 1,5 hours to get to Bryce Canyon from Zion, so you should visit these two parks in a 2-day span, if you have time. 

PRO TIP: For many travelers, Bryce Canyon is a popular stop along their West Coast itinerary. My guide to best West Coast national parks will help you to plan your trip! 

How far is Bryce Canyon from Zion?

Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks are located only 80 miles apart, and many travelers combine them into one road trip. It takes about 1,5 hours along US-89 if you exit Zion National Park through the eastern entrance.

Utah State Route 12

Another way to get to Bryce Canyon National Park is via State Route 12 otherwise known as Scenic Byway 12 that traverses through portions of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

The 122-mile route starts in Panguitch and goes through a number of small towns in Utah such as Tropic, Henrieville and Cannonville. The northbound route traverses some of the most remote areas in the United States with few services and scarce cell phone coverage.

It ends in Torrey 10 miles west of Capitol Reef National Park. 

Don’t try to rush your way through this road, because of its winding features and steep drop-offs that don’t always have railings. Utah State Route 12 demands time because of the gorgeous scenery that surrounds the road. 

How much is the entrance to Bryce Canyon?

Arrive to the park early before hiking trails get crowded. If you get there before the entrance booth opens at 8 a.m., you will have to pay a fee when you exit the park. 

The entrance fee to Bryce costs $35 per single private vehicle. If you are entering the park on foot, you will have to pay $20, and $30 if you enter the park on a motorcycle.

If you plan to visit other West Coast national parks, consider purchasing America the Beautiful National Parks Pass for $80 to save the money. 

Best things to do in Bryce Canyon

America The Beautiful National Park Pass

1. Explore Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive

Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive is the main road that goes through the park. Taking a drive on this scenic 38-mile highway is one of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon, if you are visiting the park for the first time and want to stop at the scenic overlooks and get a feel for this place before deciding what trail you would like to hike.

Even though this drive can be done in less than an hour, it will most likely take you longer, as you will want to stop at one of 13 scenic overlooks along the way.

2. Enjoy Bryce Canyon hikes

Hiking is one of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon because there’s no better way to experience the otherworldly scenery of this national park. Try to explore at least one or two trails when visiting Bryce, even if you are not an avid hiker. 

The views here are pure magic and you will be really amazed at their grandeur. Bryce Canyon offers plenty of easy and moderate hiking trails that don’t require advanced hiking skills.

3. Learn about the park at Bryce Canyon Visitor Center

If you arrive at the park after 8 a.m., stop at Bryce Canyon Visitor Center to pick up a map and ask park rangers any questions that you might have. Here you can also pick up a map of the area and check on any updates with hotels, campgrounds and hiking trails in Bryce.

There’s also a small on-site museum where you can learn about the park’s topography and biodiversity.

Amazing things to do in Bryce Canyon

4. Marvel at Bryce Amphitheater

Bryce Amphitheater is home to the largest concentration of hoodoos at Bryce Canyon. There are hundreds of thousands of them here! 

The area can be accessed by the shuttle bus that can also take you to other areas of the park. It runs every 15 minutes and takes about 45-50 minutes to go through the park, but make sure to check the schedule online before you make any plans. 

If you don’t feel like hitting the trails, observing the spectacular view is one of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon.

PRO TIP: Do you want to visit other national and state parks in Utah? Check my article about best things to do in this state!

Best Places to Visit in Utah

5. Explore Navajo Loop Trail

Navajo Loop Trail is one the most popular Bryce Canyon hikes: You get to see the towering hoodoos very close and take some incredible photos among them. 

Navajo Loop Trail is about 3 miles and takes between 2-3 hours to complete. It’s rated moderately difficult, but it will feel like a breeze as you will stop to take photos on every corner.

I recommend starting your hike at Sunset Point, turning right and going counterclockwise. This way, you will not have to struggle up the series of steep switchbacks. 

Best things to do in Utah

The Wall Street, a narrow slot canyon leading to switchbacks is closed in winter, so hiking the entire loop is only possible during summer, late spring and early fall, when there is no snow. The Wall Street is one of the most beautiful spots at the Bryce Canyon.

6. Continue to Queens Garden Trail

If you continue hiking Navajo Loop Trail for a while, you will come to a form splitting the trail into Navajo Loop Trail and Queens Garden Trail, a separate 1.8-mile hike. The Queens Garden Trail begins at Sunrise Point and goes down into the valley. Queens Garden Trail is an easy walk that takes you on a trail amid towering hoodoos and incredible rock formations, so if you have extra time, it’s worth exploring.

It’s also slightly less popular than Navajo Loop Trail, so if you are looking for a getaway from busy areas of the park, hiking Queens Garden Trail is one of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon.

7. Test your hiking skills at Fairyland Loop

Fairyland Loop is an 8-mile trail that is more challenging than Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop Trail and it tends to be a lot less crowded. It also offers a great view of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater from a different angle, so if you are looking to escape the crowds, check out this hike!

8. Drive up to Inspiration Point

From Navajo Loop Trail it’s a short drive to Inspiration Point, another incredible overlook. From here, you can see the amazing Bryce Amphitheater, portions of the Navajo Loop and Queens Garden Trail. Watch out for the steep cliffs and sheer drop-offs around the edge of Inspiration Point! 

9. And don’t forget to visit Bryce Point

Bryce Point is just a short distance away from Inspiration Point and is very similar to its neighbor with thousands of majestic hoodoos dotting the landscape. To reach this gorgeous overlook, you will have to take a short hike from the parking lot.

10. And Rainbow Point

Located on the southern end of the park, Rainbow Point takes about 20-25 minutes to get to. On the way, stop to take a quick look at Natural Bridge, another cool feature of the park. 

11. If you have extra time, head to Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail

Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail is a 4.8-mile hike that starts at Bryce Point and goes all the way to the floor of the canyon. It’s rated as strenuous because of the rapid elevation change, and therefore, requires more effort. While it’s a popular equestrian trail, it doesn’t see as much foot traffic compared to Navajo Loop Trail, so it’s a perfect place to get a break. 

If you are looking for some challenge, hiking it is one of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park.

PRO TIP: Bryce Canyon is one of the most popular places to visit near Las Vegas. If you want to learn about other cool gems to discover near Sin City, check my guide! 

Hotels near Bryce Canyon

The nearby towns of Tropic and Panguitch, Escalante and Kanab that  have a number accommodations. 

1. Red Ledges Inn, Tropic, Utah

2. Blue Pine Motel, Panguitch

3. The Inn of Escalante, Escalante

In addition, there are several Bryce Canyon hotels within the park such as Bryce Canyon Resort and Bryce UpTop Lodge.

12. Spend the night camping in Bryce Canyon

Camping is one of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon if you want to see some of the darkest skies in the United States. Due to its remote location, Bryce Canyon National Park has no sources of light pollution, so if you lucky and the skies are clear, you be treated to a spectacular display of bright stars.

There are several campgrounds in Bryce Canyon National Park:

1. Sunset Campground – West of Sunset Point, this campground sits 1.5 miles south of the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center, and has about 100 camping sites. Available on first-come, first-served basis, this campground has no water, sewer or electrical hook-ups.

2. North Campground – Located across the road from the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center, this campground has 99 sites for tents and RVs. Just like Sunset Campground, it has no water, sewer or electrical hook-ups available.

13. Take some epic shots

If you are an avid photographer, you probably already know that Utah offers some incredible opportunities for photography. Bryce Canyon is specifically known as one of the best places to take photos because of its amphitheaters with thousands of hoodoos.

If you want to take that ultimate shot, arrive before sunrise. The light is incredibly soft during the sunrise at Bryce Canyon which makes for beautiful landscape shots. 

14. Explore other cool hikes at Bryce Canyon

Besides the most famous hiking trails, there are also some cool less-known hikes that you should explore! If you want to get off the beaten path, exploring them is one of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon 🙂

1. Bristlecone Loop – A 1-mile, relatively easy hike .

2. Tower Bridge – A 3-mile, moderate hike.

3. Riggs Spring Loop – An- eight-and-a-half-mile strenuous mile, difficult hike.

15. Get off the beaten path on Mossy Cave Trail

Although Bryce Canyon is a less visited national park, it can still get busy during summer months. Luckily, there are plenty of hidden corners in Bryce Canyon where you can get away from the crowds, and Mossy Cave Trail is one of them!

This is a cool, less-visited trail that takes you to mysterious caves and more hoodoos. This is an easy 1-mile round-trip hike that follows the river and can be done by hikers of all levels.

Most frequently asked questions about Bryce Canyon

Best national parks near Las Vegas

What is the best time to visit Bryce Canyon?

Bryce Canyon National Park is magnificent at any time of the year. 

While summer sees the most tourists, the traffic dies down around the beginning of October and drops even more in winter. But don’t let the cold temps scare you away! Bryce Canyon in winter is pure magic!

What is winter like in Bryce Canyon?

The snow-covered hoodoos and rock formations create an otherworldly scene against the blue sky. 

The park sits at about 8,000 feet, so the snow stays on the ground through most of March and into early April. Winters bring plenty of freezing temperatures, but they also create some of the most stunning winter landscapes you will ever see! 

However, if you want to skip the cold weather,  the best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park is mid-to-late spring and mid-fall when crowds recede and temperatures are still pleasant to be outside. 

Do I need a car rental to get to Bryce?

To get to Bryce Canyon, you will need a car rental. You can rent a car in Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, the two closest cities to Bryce Canyon. I recommend renting a car with Discover Cars, one of the best car rental companies with flexible rates and good inventory.

Is Bryce Canyon worth visiting?

Bryce Canyon is one of the best places to visit in Utah and is absolutely worth a visit! This is one of the most spectacular national parks in the West with travelers coming here from all over the world to admire its spectacular scenery. After visiting Bryce a few times, I think that it’s one of those places that you have to visit at least once in your life!

Final words on best things to do in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful national parks in Utah. Although many travelers stop here for a day before continuing their trip, I recommend spending at least one night here to enjoy some of the best things in Bryce Canyon. From enjoying the spectacular hikes surrounded by hoodoos to watching the sunset and enjoying photography, Bryce Canyon is a must-stop on your Utah itinerary.

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