Bryce Canyon National Park is most famous for its magnificent terracotta-colored hoodoos. Although you can find these irregular rock columns in other places around the world, this park contains the largest concentration of them. So, if you want to see these amazing geological structures for yourself, read on to find a complete guide to Bryce Canyon National Park – including how to get here, places to stay nearby, things to do, and other tips to help you plan your trip.
YOU MIGHT ALSO WANT TO READ: The Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary
Where is Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon is located in the Southwest part of Utah with the closest town being its namesake – Bryce Canyon City.
Getting to Bryce Canyon National Park
The park is located near Bryce Canyon City with the closest big airports located in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, both approximately 270 miles away. However, if you are on a road trip then you can get here easily from other National Parks in Utah and major cities in the Southwest.
Here are the main distances to Bryce Canyon National Park:
- Las Vegas, NV to Bryce Canyon National Park: 260 miles
- Salt Lake City, UT to Bryce Canyon National Park: 270 miles
- Phoenix, AZ to Bryce Canyon National Park: 430 miles
- Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park: 75 miles
- Arches National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park: 245 miles
- Grand Canyon National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park: 265 miles
- Capitol Reef National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park: 115 miles
- Canyonlands National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park: 260 miles
Once at the park, you can either drive your own car throughout or make use of the park’s shuttle service. Although not mandatory, the shuttle is a convenient and sustainable way to visit the park without adding to the traffic in the park.
The entrance fee to Bryce Canyon National Park is US$ 35 per vehicle, US$ 20 per person, and US$ 30 per motorcycle and is valid for 7 consecutive days.
Also, if you want to visit the park throughout the year, you can purchase the Bryce Canyon National Park Annual Pass which costs U$ 40 and is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.
Remember, if you are planning on visiting other national parks in Utah or in the United States, you should consider purchasing the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. This pass costs US$ 80 and allows you to visit all of the national parks you want during a 12-month period (starting from the date of purchase).
Hotels near Bryce Canyon National Park
Compared to other National Parks, there aren’t a lot of accommodations near Bryce Canyon, but one good option is to stay in the lodge located within the park itself. That being said, here are some options to consider should you wish to spend one night in the area:
Bryce Canyon Lodge – it’s the lodge inside Bryce Canyon National Park. This historical place has suites and cabins that are just a short walk from the main points in the park.
Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn – a simple, historic hotel, just a few miles from the visitor center.
Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel – another good option close to the park’s entrance.
Restaurants nearby the park
- Ruby’s Inn Cowboy’s Buffet & Steak Room
- Lodge at Bryce Canyon Restaurant
- Vahhalla Pizzeria and Coffee Shop
- Foster’s Family Steakhouse
- Rustlers Restaurant
- Bryce Canyon Coffee Co
Weather in Bryce Canyon National Park
Due to its elevation, the weather can change quickly in Bryce Canyon from fall to spring, and the rainy season is from July to August. Considering this, be sure to pack warm clothes and a rain jacket while visiting the park.
During the summer months, temperatures can range between 450 F and 800 F, though from October to May the temperatures drop significantly with highs from 350 F to 650 F and lows from 150 F to 350 F.
I visited the park at the beginning of November and the morning temperatures were in the low 30s0 F.
The best things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park
Sunrise, Sunset, and Inspiration Point
One of the highlights of Bryce Canyon National Park, and the best thing to do in the park, is to head to the viewpoints where the immense hoodoos can be seen from many different angles. So make sure to visit Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, and Inspiration Point.
The difference between the viewpoints is that Inspiration Point is located higher up and offers a panoramic view of the multitude of hoodoos, whilst Sunset Point provides a more up-close view of them. Plus, if you want to catch a sunrise at Bryce Canyon, I recommend going to Inspiration Point – the best one for this time of the day.
When visiting Inspiration Point, remember that there are 2 different lookouts– the lower and upper ones. Both are great but do take the 5-minute short, but steep walk to the upper one, as the views are uniquely striking.
Another great activity in Bryce Canyon is the scenic drive. The park has an 18-mile road (one way) with 13 stunning lookouts along the way. This is a great choice for a day in the park without hiking.
Apart from the viewpoints mentioned above (Sunrise, Sunset, and Inspiration Points), along the scenic drive, you can stop to see the Natural Bridge (my favorite one), Yovimpa Point, and Rainbow Point.
Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park
Mossy Cave Trail and Bristlecone Trail are two easy and recommended hikes in Bryce Canyon. For the first one, you’ll walk 0.8 miles to a small waterfall offering a nice view of dripping water and moss-covered rocks in the summer and an amazing icy scene in the winter. Along the second, there will be a 1-mile path through an evergreen forest with ancient bristlecone pines and, because of its elevation, expansive vistas.
Also, for a quick hike with great views of the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, take the 1-mile hike of the Rim Trail from Sunrise to Sunset Point. Along this paved path, you’ll look out at the vastness of hoodoos within the park. Once at Sunset Point, you can finish this easy hike or continue your way along the rim for 5.5 miles (one way), but this part isn’t as easy and has lots of ups and downs.
Additionally, one of the best and most popular hikes in Bryce Canyon is the Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop Trail. This 3-mile moderate trail begins at Sunrise Point and ends at Sunset Point and provides you with magnificent views of the park. The highlights of this hike are the hoodoos resembling Queen Victoria, the Wall Street area, Thor’s Hammer, and Two Bridges.
For a strenuous hike, Fairyland Loop Trail is an excellent choice. This 8-mile path with many hoodoos has similar views to the Queen’s Garden Trail, but because it’s in a less visited area of Bryce Canyon, you’ll be able to escape the crowds. The loop begins at either Fairyland Point or north of Sunrise Point, and the stunning features of the Fairyland Loop Trail are the China Wall, Tower Bridge, and of course the remarkable hoodoos along the way.
Lastly, another strenuous hike in Bryce Canyon is the Peekaboo Loop Trail – a 5.5-mile loop through a valley filled with orange hoodoos. The hike starts at Bryce Point and has many ups and downs and a few tunnels along the way. Once you complete the Peekaboo Trail, you’ll see many hoodoos and be rewarded with striking rock features. Also, this is the only trail in the park shared by horses and hikers, so beware of the traffic.
Being away from the light pollution of big cities, Bryce Canyon is the perfect place to stargaze – on a clear moonless night, you can see the Milky Way and thousands of stars. Additionally, you can have spectacular views of the night sky from all the viewpoints in the park.
Plus, if you enjoy astrophotography, you’ll definitely want to stay up to get some shots. Just be sure to bring warm clothes as it gets very cold in the park due to its altitude.
You can also go camping, ride a bike, and go horseback riding in Bryce Canyon.
Where to go from Bryce Canyon
From Bryce Canyon, you can visit Kodachrome Basin State Park and other state parks in Utah as well as Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, Zion National Park, and Canyonlands National Park.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE TO VISIT OTHER NATIONAL PARKS:
Canyonlands National Park: The Complete Guide to Canyonlands National Park
Petrified Forest National Park: How to spend one day in Petrified Forest National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park: First-Timer’s Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park and 3-day itinerary to the park
White Sands National Park: How to Plan the Perfect Visit to White Sands National Park
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