Discover Bryce Canyon: the complete guide

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Between 6618 and 9024 feet above sea level, Bryce Canyon National Park is hidden in the forest and only reveals itself to visitors at the last moment. When you discover it for the first time, it’s always a shock, especially when you don’t know what to expect! Despite its name, it is not a canyon but a limestone plateau, carved by erosion into a fantastic army of fairy chimneys, also called hoodoos, which vary from orange-yellow to red. In the midst of these warm colors, the intense green of the Colorado firs completes the already fantastic picture.

Most visitors are content to discover the park over half a day or a full day. It’s doable, but the landscape is so fabulous that I would recommend to stay there for at least one and half days (2 nights) to take the time to appreciate the park in its entirety, and to enjoy the sunrise.

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What to see and do during your stay in Bryce Canyon?

Useful information

  • Park Entrance: There is only one entrance to the park, located in the North on UT-63.
    Open every day, 24 hours a day.
  • Price: $35/vehicle, $30/motorbike, $20/person on foot or by bike.
    Pass valid for 7 days.
    The Pass America The Beautiful (also called Interagency Annual Pass) is ACCEPTED
  • Visitor Center : At the park entrance on the right.
    May-Sept, daily 8am-8pm;
    Apr and Oct, daily 8am-6pm;
    the rest of the year, daily 8am-4.30pm
    More info:
  • ATMs: at Ruby’s Inn, Ruby’s Inn Campground, Best Western Bryce Canyon Grand and The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
  • Showers: possibility to take a shower at the Ruby’s Inn campsite ($5) and at the Bryce Canyon General Store ($3 for 8min)
  • Note: this park is at altitude, do not forget to take something to cover yourself with
  • Shuttles: April to October only, shuttles (free) serve part of the park between Ruby’s Inn and Bryce Point. They operate every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (8 p.m. from mid-May to the end of September); passage every 10 to 15 minutes

1 | Discover the different breathtaking views of the amphitheater

There are 4 viewpoints that overlook the amphitheater: Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. They are all 4 served by the free shuttle. For those who want to use the car, it is also possible to park next to each viewpoint. Note that Sunrise and Sunset Point are a 15-minutes walk away, along a perfectly landscaped promenade.

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon

2 | Drive along the scenic route

Farview Point, Natural Bridge, Agua Canyon, Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point are viewpoints that are not served by the free shuttle. You have to go there by car to admire them. Be careful, the car park that leads to Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point is often full at picnic time (there are many tables in the undergrowth).

Bryce Canyon

3 | Admire the sunset from Sunset Point

When you are in Bryce Canyon, you have to go see the sunset. The colors are just gorgeous! As indicated in the name, Sunset Point is a good place to enjoy it.

4 | Take a walk just after sunrise on the Rim Trail

Even if the sunset is magnificent, it is the sunrise that is the most incredible. Don’t hesitate to get up early to enjoy it. I advise you to take the path between Inspiration Point and Bryce Point (1.5 miles). You can watch the sunrise and then walk along the amphitheater, the view is great and the trail is flat! When you arrive at Bryce Point you can take the shuttle (from 8:00am) if you don’t want to go there and back. That’s what we did. And to top it off, we were alone, it was magical!

Bryce Canyon

5 | Hike by combining 2 routes: the Navajo Loop Trail and the Queens Garden Trail

All of the hikes are spectacular but if you have to do only one it’s this one! Count about 2 to 3 hours (because you will be doing lots of photo stops!) for a 2.8 miles loop. Prefer the route from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point to avoid too intense efforts at the end. The hike takes you through the world’s largest concentration of hoodoos. It is certain that we are not used to hiking in this kind of completely unreal setting. It makes you feel like you’re on another planet.

Bryce Canyon

Outside the park:

6 | Take a short walk in the heart of the Red Canyon

About 9.3 miles from Bryce Canyon, by the road 12, if you have a little time left in your schedule, go discover this canyon. Certainly not as spectacular as Bryce but worth the detour. We did the walk that is suggested on the leaflet that we picked up at the Visitor Center (very easy to spot, the car park is next door as well as the start of the hike).

Bryce Canyon

7 | Marvel at the National Scenic Byway 12

It is certainly the most beautiful Scenic Byway in the Western United States. 124 miles long, it crosses fantastic landscapes between Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. It runs along the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Moreover, if you have the time (a lot of time) and the necessary equipment (4×4, survival equipment), we advise you to explore more in depth this region, one of the wildest and most remote in the United States (Kodachrome Basin State Park, Cottonwood Canyon Road, Hole-in-the-Rock Road, Calf Creek Falls, etc.).
Note that the Scenic Byway 12 becomes Scenic Byway 24 (still beautiful) from Capitol Reef National Park. It finally joins the I70 in the North and from there you can continue your route to Salt Lake City (and Yellowstone always further North), to Colorado to the East or to the South to explore the other great parks of Utah. : Arches NP, Canyonland NP and Dead Horse Point SP.

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon

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