I live in Utah and have visited Bryce Canyon National Park many times. It's one of my favorite places on earth. Today I'm answering Google's most popular questions about Bryce Canyon National Park.
We usually visit this park on a weekend from Salt Lake City, or as part of a longer trip to Southwest Utah. Bryce is just a couple of hours from Zion National Park, so you can easily visit both on the same trip.
Here are all my tips for what to expect, what to do, where to stay and how to get around.
What is Bryce Canyon known for?
Bryce Canyon is known for its bright orange hoodoos – columns of sandstone that have been carved by erosion for millenia. This national park has the greatest concentration of hoodoos on the planet. And they're absolutely gorgeous.
What's really amazing is that Bryce Canyon is so close to Zion, Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. The landscape of each park is bucket-list worthy, but they're all so different from each other.
Bryce Canyon is a good place to go sightseeing, hiking, biking, photography, stargazing, camping, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
What is the best time of year to visit Bryce Canyon?
Most people visit in warm weather months, April-October. The park sits at a high elevation, so temperatures tend to be cooler here than at Zion and other parts of the Southwest. Average high temperatures in July are 80-85 degrees (F).
The other advantage to visiting in peak season is that all the ranger programs, hotels, restaurants and local activities are active and open.
I have visited Bryce Canyon in winter a couple of times, and it's a great time to go! The only thing that makes those bright orange hoodoos even prettier is a fresh cap of white snow. If your family enjoys snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or just seeing a different side of the park without peak season crowds, plan a winter trip to Bryce Canyon.
Some roads, trails and many local services will be closed in winter. However, Ruby's Inn is open and it has a full slate of fun winter activities for families, including a Winter Festival in February.
Related: Tips for Visiting Bryce Canyon in Winter
How many days do you need?
You can hit the highlights in one full day. This will give you time to drive the park's 18-mile main road and stop at several viewpoints. You should also have time for the visitor center and a few short hikes.
Bryce Canyon is a Dark Sky Park and it regularly hosts ranger-led stargazing events and full moon hikes. Sunrise is the best time to get photos the canyon and hoodoos. I recommend that you spend at least one night in or very near the park if you want to enjoy these activities.
Full moon hikes are so popular that there is now a lottery for tickets. Here's the link. https://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/fullmoonhikes.htm
Related: Best Short Hikes for Families at Bryce Canyon
How much does it cost?
The entrance fee is currently $35. This fee is good for everyone in your vehicle for seven consecutive days.
An annual pass for only Bryce Canyon is $40. This pass is good for 12 months from the time of purchase.
Check out the Related post link below to find out more about fee free days, Every Kid Outdoors and annual passes at the national parks.
Related: 4 Ways to Save on National Park Fees
Where should I stay?
Bryce Canyon has one lodge and two campgrounds inside the park.
We usually stay at Ruby's Inn just outside the park entrance. The Ruby's Inn family of hotels includes the Bryce Canyon Grand, Bryce View Lodge and Ruby's Inn RV Park and Campground. There are restaurants, general store, fuel, activities and just about anything else you need. These hotels, located in “Bryce Canyon City,” have the best location for a trip focused on Bryce Canyon.
There are more hotels and campgrounds a little farther away. The cities of Tropic and Panguitch are both within an easy drive.
Cedar City, Utah is about 1.5 hours from Bryce Canyon and 45 minutes from Zion, so we often stay there when we visit both parks.
Kanab, Utah is a little farther off the beaten path, but is the best jumping off point for the Grand Canyon North Rim. Kanab is 1.5 hours from Bryce Canyon, 1.5 hours from the Grand Canyon North Rim and 30 minutes from the East Entrance of Zion National Park.
Click the button below to see Ruby's Inn, the Bryce Canyon Grand, Bryce Canyon Lodge and other hotels near the park on TripAdvisor.com.
Related: Review of Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel
How far is Bryce Canyon from…
Here is a list of national parks and major airports in the region, with miles and drive times, plus an interactive map.
- Zion National Park Visitor Center – 85 miles, 2 hours
- Capitol Reef National Park – 119 miles, 2.5 hours
- Arches National Park/Moab – 245 miles, 4.25 hours
- Grand Canyon North Rim – 157 miles, 3 hours
- Grand Canyon South Rim – 283 miles, 5 hours
- McCarran International Airport/Las Vegas – 272 miles, 4.25 hours
- Salt Lake International Airport – 274 miles, 4.25 hours
It's fairly easy to see Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks in the same trip. Capitol Reef and the Grand Canyon North Rim are also relatively close. Services at the Grand Canyon North Rim are only open May-October.
Can you drive through Bryce Canyon?
You can drive your own car into the park and drive all the park roads. The park's main road is 18 miles long. There are many viewpoints along the way where you can stop, see the canyon and access hiking trails.
There are no public paved roads that go down into the canyon. Several hiking trails allow you to walk down into the canyon.
Is there a shuttle?
Yes. The Bryce Canyon shuttle runs from April-October. There is no extra cost – the shuttle is included in your park entrance fee. The shuttle route does not cover the entire 18-mile main road, but it does stop at popular points between Ruby's Inn and Bryce Point inside the park.
You are not required to use the shuttle unless your vehicle is longer than 20 feet. I usually drive my own car, but have found the shuttle to be a convenient and eco-friendly option on some trips.
I especially like riding the shuttle up to Bryce Point, then walking the Rim Trail downhill to Sunset or Sunrise point where I can pick up the shuttle again and ride back to the Visitor Center or Ruby's Inn.
Are there bears?
Yes, but you probably won't see one. Black bears live in this region, but they are rarely sighted. Same with mountain lions, coyotes and rattlesnakes. It's good to be alert – especially on trails and in the backcountry – but dangerous animals are not common here.
Keep your eyes open for deer, squirrels, chipmunks, prairie dogs, lizards, ravens and hawks. These animals are commonly seen.
Don't feed the wildlife! It's not healthy for them, and you could be injured. These animals may seem cute and tame, but they are wild.
Bryce Canyon is one of my favorite national parks anywhere. It's somewhat remote, but worth the trip. Pair this park with a road trip to Zion, Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef or other national and state parks nearby.
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